After being sidelined with an ankle injury in Week Three against the Broncos, Bills polarizing defensive tackle Marcell Dareus played in a limited role again Buffalo's victory over the Falcons.
(Bills stats and grades courtesy of Pro Football Focus)
Dareus had one quarterback pressure (a hurry) on 12 pass-rushing snaps in Week Four. He was not credited with a tackle but received a +0.6 overall PFF grade. On the season he has two hurries and two assisted tackle and an overall grade of +3.6, which ranks 18th out of 89 qualifying defensive tackles.
Because Dareus only played 22 snaps against the Falcons, I figured the game provided a good opportunity to describe what he did on every play he was on the field without the list being too long:
Snap 1: Stymied on pass-rush attempt.
Snap 2: Slipped after double team.
Snap 3: Split double team.
Snap 4: Scrape well down the line on stretch play, helped tackle.
Snap 5: Got caught up by chop block on run away from him.
Snap 6: Worked around reach block on run away from him, helped finish the tackle.
Snap 7: Looked to be two gapping on pass-rush attempt.
Snap 8: Pushed past Matt Ryan on double team on pass-rush attempt.
Snap 9: Stymied in pass-rush attempt one-on-one.
Snap 10: Blocked by double on what looked to be purposely wide pass rush from inside defensive tackle spot.
Snap 11: Held up by double team on inside run play.
Snap 12: Beat down block on run away from him but tackle occurred before he got to the ball.
Snap 13: Took two counter moves but made his way close to Matt Ryan on one-on-one pass-rush attempt.
Snap 14: Initially anchored well against double team but ultimately went to the ground.
Snap 15: Slipped behind down block attempt but run was on opposite side of the field.
Snap 16: Lunged forward to get penetration in goal-line situation.
Snap 17: Moderate push into pocket on pass-rush attempt.
Snap 18: Inside pass-rush was thwarted by second blocker.
Snap 19: Flowed with entire DL on play-action bootleg.
Snap 20: Pushed to ground by second blocker on double team on pass play.
Snap 21: Pulled to ground on double team on run play and got up to chase as Devonta Freeman reversed his field.
Snap 22: Won at point of attack swipe move to get pressure on Ryan.
I counted nine plays in which Dareus was double-teamed by some combo of Atlanta offensive linemen. That equates 40.9 percent of his Week Four snaps. While Kyle Williams seems to be in a position to get upfield on every play, Dareus often looks to be occupying blockers as a nose tackle and doesn't seem to be in attack mode nearly as often as his interior linemate.
And the latter — against the Falcons — may have been due to Dareus' injury.
Whatever is going on, so far in 2017, Dareus hasn't been the explosive defensive tackle he's shown he can be in the past.
Despite possibly playing more of a "reactionary" role and not being 100 percent healthy, Dareus still moves extraordinarily well for his size, has sledgehammers for hands when swiping blockers and typically anchors well. All that proves his immense talent. Also, he's still drawing plenty of attention from offensive lines, as evidenced by the frequency he's being double-teamed.
Dareus should be healthier for Week Five's contest against the Cincinnati Bengals. I'll be monitoring whether or not he can parlay some of his overlooked positive play into actual stat-sheet production.
Story topics: Marcell Dareus