Through five weeks of the season, the Buffalo Bills have gotten off to a 3-2 start to the season, which has shown they’re at least ahead of the generally accepted schedule both fans and media had of the team heading into the 2017 season.
As is the case for NFL teams through a bye week, it’s a time for reflection about what has happened, and what’s to come. With that said, what are the biggest questions for the Bills as the season continues? We’ll be counting down the top seven throughout the week.
No. 6: Will Marcell Dareus ever make the same impact again?
I know what you’re thinking.
Well, when you consider what has transpired over the last two months, his salary cap hit, and the player he once was for the Bills, it will continue to be a storyline for the team as they go forward in 2017 — especially if the current trend holds.
Dareus, who makes up exactly 10.35-percent of the salary cap in 2017 (according to Spotrac.com), has played a shockingly low percentage of snaps, and until Sunday against the Bengals on a pair of occasions, really didn’t make any splash plays that helped put the defense in a great position.
His snap counts over his first four games, with the Denver game not included due to being inactive:
Week One vs. New York Jets: 58%
Week Two at Carolina: 25%
Week Four at Atlanta: 29%
Week Five at Cincinnati: 33%
In fairness, Dareus did suffer an injury against the Panthers and missed the better part of the first half — but he did return to the game. Some will argue that he’s bouncing back from an injury against Atlanta and Cincinnati, but he was removed from the injury report on the Friday before the game both weeks, which means he should be ready to play at least 50-percent of the snaps.
No, instead, Dareus — at one time an integral piece to the defense — hasn’t even started the last two weeks, as the Bills instead went with Cedric Thornton in Atlanta, and Adolphus Washington in Cincinnati. Those two players have struggled in 2017, which makes it even more damning.
However, is there any shred of hope that Dareus can get back to the player he once was in Buffalo?
If the current trend continues, the really short answer is probably not. He’ll continue being out there for run downs, making a flash play every once and again, but nothing to warrant the type of money he’s getting.
If it really is the injury that’s holding him back from playing the same amount of snaps that he did in Week One, then Dareus could work his way back into being an impact player.
However, even in that game — when healthy — he did not provide the spark he once did, often got pushed off his spot, and really looked like ‘just a guy,’ on the field. If you combine that with his salary heading into the 2018 season, things don’t exactly look promising for the former star defensive tackle.
Only time will tell with Dareus, but if he hovers around the 30-to-40 percent of snap rate through the rest of the season, there is absolutely no reason to keep him on the roster heading into 2018 -- especially considering he makes up over 10-percent of this year's salary cap. And the longer it keeps up, the more and more evidence we get that that will indeed be the conclusion of the Marcell Dareus story in Buffalo.