Sean McDermott made the point last Monday, less than 24 hours after watching his team complete an unlikely comeback victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bills were built with players who were told by other teams that they weren't good enough. Micah Hyde suggested they were a collection of misfits.
Indeed, it was fitting Friday evening for the Bills, when trading Marcell Dareus to the Jaguars for a 2018 sixth-round pick, to rid themselves of a player who stood out like a wart on their collective nose. Nobody in their group of resourceful overachievers was a greater misfit than Dareus, a lazy defensive tackle and chronic underachiever.
The trade was a classic case of addition by subtraction. Buffalo exchanged Dareus' massive contract for long-term cap relief. They swapped his apathetic attitude for an opportunity to reinforce the notion they value players with high character. And they sent a message to their own players that they can win without him.
For all the nonstop talk over the past two years about Tyrod Taylor's future, Dareus and his six-year, $96 million contract was the bigger issue. He was the green elephant with pink polka dots in the herd and showed few signs that he wanted to be here. Well, guess what? The feeling was mutual.
Dareus copped an attitude early in training camp, continued going through the motions after the season began and showed little interest in being a major part of their plans moving forward. The new regime couldn't get him out of here fast enough once it became evident they couldn't get through to him.
McDermott and General Manager Brandon Beane were wise to his act from the start. They publicly questioned his commitment shortly after they arrived. Dareus confirmed their initial assessment when he was late for a preseason game and was sent home. His response to being publicly humiliated was making jokes about flying to Buffalo in luxury, further embarrassing himself and insulting his team.
The other day, after playing his best game of the season against the Bucs, he had an opportunity to change his tune and the perception of him. Instead, he made little effort and offered the bare minimum, as usual. And that was always the thing about him. He was a terrific player when he was right but left people longing for more.
"I'm just one piece of the puzzle," Dareus said. "I'm just doing my job. I come in day in and day out and work my butt off. Whatever they ask me to do, that's my job. That's what I have to do, to the best of my ability."
The Bills should have expected more from their former third pick overall and their highest-paid player on the team. He might have been one-eleventh of the defense, but his $1 million per game salary accounted for one-tenth of their salary space. He played about one-third of their snaps but accounted for one-half of their headaches.
In return, he gave them a fraction of his total ability.
Was it too much for Dareus to acknowledge the overall landscape appeared prettier under McDermott than any coach in recent memory? Or to take ownership in the Bills as a premier player? Or lead the younger guys? Or to consistently play with the passion Kyle Williams showed after the game Sunday?
It was laughable.
Just so you know, Dareus getting traded five days after playing his best game was no coincidence. Dareus needed to show he could still dominate in the NFL in order for the Bills to convince the Jags to cough up something in return. The Bills sold him like an old piano: Any offer would have been accepted to take him off their hands.
The Bills received what they wanted, a draft pick. The Jags received a defensive tackle who could make an impact under Doug Marrone. The trade worked out for Dareus, too, because he gets an extra week off with Jacksonville on a bye.
Let me be clear: Dareus made a major impact on the Bills' 30-27 victory over the Buccaneers. He played nearly double the snaps he had for any game since their opener. He made the tackle on the final play after the Bucs lateralled the Bills to exhaustion while McDermott aged a decade on the sidelines.
The Bills' defense, after a great start, fell to 21st in total yardage after allowing 712 yards passing the past two games. The run defense is seventh in yards allowed and fourth in yards allowed per carry. Imagine how much better the unit would be if Dareus bought into the new regime in training camp.
If anything, Dareus' performance against the Bucs was another indictment of his commitment to the game. Nobody questioned his ability to terrorize offensive lines when willing. In games in which he failed to provide a full effort, he was just another defensive lineman picking up a paycheck.
But for the first time all season, he played like the monster the Bills envisioned when they selected him in 2011. In his first five games this year, he had eight tackles and a sack. Three of his four solo tackles and five of his eight total tackles this season came last Sunday, when the Bills were showcasing him.
After his best week of practice, he played like had finally climbed aboard. Dareus should have been sitting in the conductor's seat while leaning on the whistle but instead was chasing the Bills Express down the tracks. Little did he know, after finally jumping on the caboose, he was on the first train leaving the Land of Misfit Toys.
You can almost see the Bills, knowing they'll be better off in the long run without him, waving goodbye … and good riddance.