In what is reportedly a make or break season for Marcell Dareus, the Buffalo Bills' talented defensive tackle got off to a solid start in 2017 during a game in which he was used more sparingly than usual.
Dareus played 34 of a possible 58 defensive snaps (59%) against the Jets. The News' Jay Skurksi provided this analysis of his usage:
"Dareus' 34 snaps were the fewest he's taken in a game since he played 16 in a Week 16 game against Dallas in the 2015 season. He left that game because of a neck injury, though, and did not return. You have to go back to Week 11 of the 2014 season to find a game in which Dareus played fewer snaps without a reported injury."
Though Dareus came off the field multiple times on third down, he still made an impact as a pass-rusher. Among 71 qualifying interior defensive linemen in Week One, Dareus' pass-rushing grade of 82.0, via Pro Football Focus, ranked sixth. That's a good sign for the top-five selection after 2015 and 2016 seasons in which he underperformed as a pass-rusher.
Dareus was credited with one quarterback hurry and got penetration on a few other plays, thereby giving him some positively graded snaps. Upon re-watch, most of those came on plays in which he initially beat his blocker, but the ball came out of Josh McCown's hands too quickly for Dareus to get to him.
As a run-stopper, Dareus graded slightly in the negatives, and finished as the No. 45 defensive tackle in that facet of the game, according to PFF. The grade came as a bit of a surprise. Despite down years getting after the quarterback during the Rex Ryan era, Dareus finished sixth as a run-stopper among defensive tackles in 2015 and 15th against the run in 2016.
He was double-teamed around 30 percent of the time against the Jets. I saw him beat just one double -- which isn't easy -- to make a play on the ball-carrier.
Routine double-teams are something he's dealt with for a few years now. Offensive lines will frequently scheme to stop him on the interior with an array of doubles and chips.
Against the Jets, Dareus had a sound, yet unspectacular outing. Against a stronger interior offensive line in Week Two -- Carolina's trio of Trai Turner, Ryan Kalil, and Andrew Norwell is one of the finest in football -- the Bills will likely need a bigger game from him.
Story topics: Marcell Dareus