Jacksonville’s defense is getting even stronger.
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The Buffalo Bills traded defensive tackle Marcell Dareus to the Jaguars on Friday. In exchange, the Bills are receiving a 2018 sixth-round pick.
“Jacksonville reached out to us today and we thought about it and talked it through as an organization and decided it was a good move for the Bills and a good move for Marcell,” first-year general manager Brandon Beane said on a conference call with reporters.
The First Team All-Pro tackle’s productivity this season didn’t live up to the six-year, $96 million contract he signed with the Bills in 2015. In the first five games, he recorded just three tackles. Back in August, he was sent home from a preseason game for violating a team rule.
Buffalo talked to a couple of teams in the preseason about trading the 27-year-old but nothing came to fruition.
It was a make-or-break year for Bills who eventually decided to part ways.
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“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 youth Jim Kelly jersey, I would hope,” head coach Sean McDermott said in September when asked about Dareus. “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.”
Dareus is coming off his best game of the season where he had five tackles against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He joins a Jacksonville defense that had 10 sacks against the Colts in Week 7.
The difference in performance has been stark.
Through four weeks, the Bills own the NFL’s No. 1 scoring defense (13.5 points per game allowed), given up a league-low four touchdowns, are tied for fourth with seven takeaways, sit fifth in yards per play allowed (4.7), and eighth in yards allowed (306.0).
Last year, the Bills ranked 16th in points per game allowed (23.6), 19th in total yards per game (357.0), and 29th in rushing yards per game allowed (133.1).
Speaking on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football on Thursday, Bills linebacker Preston Brown said the difference between 2016 and 2017 is a simplified D.
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“We don’t like to compare that much with last year, but we know it’s a lot simpler,” Brown said. “You can see it out there. Guys are having fun with women Tyrod Taylor jersey. With the 4-3 scheme, we’re back to where we are my rookie year. Guys are having fun and just playing fast.”
The tape speaks the truth. The Bills defense flies to the ball. Jerry Hughes leads a battering defensive front, with undrafted free agent Eddie Yarbrough flashing each week. The second level of Brown, Ramon Humber (who broke his hand this week) and Lorenzo Alexander swarm ball carriers. And the back end led by safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, along with first-round corner Tre’Davious White, is a perfect mesh for McDermott’s zone-heavy scheme.
Boldin retired in August just weeks after signing a one-year deal with the Bills. He appeared in two preseason games with the Bills before announcing his retirement in a renewed effort to focus on social issues in the wake of racial violence that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia.
One of the greatest possession receivers in NFL history, Boldin ranks 14th all-time in receiving yards with 13,779 on 1,076 receptions with 82 touchdowns. Boldin was productive in each of his stints with the Cardinals, Ravens, 49ers and Lions. Since 2008, he earned 3,495 yards after the catch, per Pro Football Focus. Only Wes Welker and Larry Fitzgerald have more in that span.
Last year in Detroit, Boldin was Matthew Stafford’s go-to red-zone target (8 touchdowns) and also frequently looked his direction on third down.
The big question now is whether there’s still a market for him. He didn’t sign with Buffalo until after training camp started, so it’ll be interesting to see if a team is willing to take a chance with Boldin, even if means giving up some sort of compensation for him.