By Nick Shook
Read full post on NFL.com
Marcell Dareus‘ revenge tale became complete with last weekend’s victory over his former team.
But for the defensive tackle, it’s just the beginning of what he views as the brightest portion of his professional career — and he couldn’t be more grateful.
“This organization has changed my life,” Dareus said of the Jacksonville Jaguars, via the Florida Times-Union. “They’ve done such great things so far, I just don’t want mess anything up. I’m just overjoyed for the opportunity to play.”
Dareus came to Jacksonville via trade for relative peanuts — a sixth-round pick that became a fifth when the Jaguars made the playoffs — in part because he was deemed more of an issue than an asset in Buffalo. He’d caused his fair share of trouble, drawing substance-abuse-related suspensions in 2015 and 2016, and wasn’t giving effort Bills coaches deemed acceptable. At one point, the team made Dareus, a starter, dress for the team’s fourth preseason game (though he didn’t play) because of these issues.
His trade to Jacksonville didn’t come as a surprise, but the resulting effects have been eyebrow-raising. Dareus never lost his ability that earned him a contract worth nearly $100 million in 2015, which became evident when his insertion into Jacksonville’s defense behind fellow interior lineman Malik Jackson only improved the unit. Defensive tackle isn’t a position that shines statistically — Dareus has played on 50 percent of possible defensive snaps, racking up 20 tackles and one sack in nine games (one start) — but his teammates’ opinions carry plenty of cache.
“He fits in very naturally,” defensive end Calais Campbell, also a new arrival in 2017, said of Dareus. “I think what we all have is that we don’t want to let each other down. That’s why I go above and beyond trying to do my job. That’s kind of our biggest motivator. Making sure we take care of our business for the man next to me because I know he’s going to take care of his business for me. That brotherhood and accountability is why we’ve been successful.”
Dareus sounds like a man rejuvenated by success, which seems to be the best deterrent from any additional off-field issues. It’s tough for a competitor to get in trouble when an opponent like Pittsburgh awaits, standing between you and a trip to the conference title game.
“They’ve been rolling, they have their focus,” Dareus said. “Their running game is good. Their quarterback is a hall of famer. We have a game on our hands.”
A game on their hands indeed, and one for which Dareus wouldn’t be preparing if he hadn’t been shipped out of town. The defensive tackle says meeting his old teammates in the wild-card round “was pretty tough.” It’s safe to assume it would have been much more difficult had he been given a trash bag on Monday rather than a scouting report and gameplan.