ORCHARD PARK – There is a chasm that exists between the Buffalo Bills front office and overpaid defensive tackle, Marcell Dareus. And on Wednesday it grew just a little bit larger.
When asked if Dareus should be considered a starter, head coach Sean McDermott gave as vague an answer as possible.
“There’s great competition on our roster right now, and I love that,” McDermott said. “The players want that. That’s why they work during the week. They understand what’s at stake. We’re only going to continue. Competition takes everyone’s game up a notch. That’s good for us.”
In Week 4, Cedric Thornton started at DT in place of Dareus, who had been nursing an injury throughout the week of practice. It took until the Bills third series of the game for Dareus to see any action and he finished the contest having played only 29% of the Bills defensive snaps. After the game, McDermott said a combination of his own strategic rotation of defensive lineman and the injury played a role in Dareus’ limited snap count. According to the Bills head coach, Dareus’ ankle injury is “trending in the right direction,” leading up to their Week 5 meeting with Cincinnati, which makes his noncommital comments to the former No. 3 overall pick even more telling.
“It’s who can get the job done,” McDermott stated. “There’s things we look for, the measurables, where you say, ‘Is the chin over the bar?’ There’s not going to be a fatal flaw. And then you go to the character and that type of formulas you guys have heard me talk. I keep repeating myself I know. That’s what we philosophically believe in. How hard those guys play. It’s how they all fit together, really. Just like our team. It’s how it all fits together. A lot of things look good on paper, but it’s got to fit together. That’s true of our football team. Things fit together, and when you’re building any team that’s the important part. And guys understand their roles and put the work in.”
This isn’t the first time McDermott has remained curiously ambiguous regarding Dareus. Just last week, before Buffalo’s Week 3 win over Denver, the Bills head coach shared some interesting comments with NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero questioning Dareus’ urgency.
“At times. I’m going to be very honest about it — at times. At other times, not really,” McDermott told Pelissero. “This bus is moving and at the end of this year, we’re going to have a pretty good feel for who’s on the bus and who’s not, and everyone knows that, I would hope. So, I would hope they’ve seen that from the moves we’ve made and the direction we’re heading, the mindset we’re embracing and the devoted mindset you need to have to win in this league. We’re going in a certain direction for a certain reason, and we play and do things with a purpose. People that have that common purpose and want to share that common purpose, they’ll be here.”
He attempted to clarify the comments later in the week by saying the entire team, himself included, has things to improve upon, then calling Dareus a “big-time part of the team.”
Those remarks, however, sound more like damage control than a sincere attempt at showing his support for the 27-year-old, and these latest ones only suggest that the disconnect between the two sides isn’t going away anytime soon. As long as Buffalo continues to compile wins with minimal contributions from Dareus, questions about the organization’s commitment to the defensive tackle will persist.
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