Since arriving in Seattle in 2010, Pete Carroll has instilled a culture of confidence that the organization would never stop attempting to add talent. They had the absolute worst roster in the NFL in 2009, and then midseason 2010, Carroll acquired Marshawn Lynch. In subsequent years, names like Percy Harvin, Jimmy Graham, Cliff Avril, Zach Miller, Sidney Rice, and Luke Joeckel entered the fray. The latest such move included a trade for Sheldon Richardson from the New York Jets, just before the season.
One would have assumed that Carroll’s disciple Gus Bradley would have helped instill a similar culture in Jacksonville, but with the Jaguars that never quite happened. Not with Bradley, at least. Since firing Bradley late last season, the Jags have added Calais Campbell, A.J. Bouye, and Barry Church to their defense through free agency. Yes, they previously added Malik Jackson, but it wasn’t until their 2017 moves did they become great. Perhaps the best defense in the NFL before Friday.
Before they traded for Marcell Dareus.
On Friday, Jacksonville sent almost nothing (a sixth that can become a fifth) to the Buffalo Bills in order to acquire Dareus, a two-time Pro Bowl, one-time All-Pro defensive tackle who is still only 27. Not without his issues (Dareus has multiple violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, he was sent home early from a preseason game, and obviously fell out of favor with Buffalo coaches), the former third overall pick is still extremely talented. Playing for current Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone back in 2014, Dareus had 10 sacks and helped the Bills have one of the top three pass defense in the league that season.
He now goes to the best pass defense in the NFL this season.
Jacksonville leads the NFL in sacks (33) and they’ve allowed four touchdowns against 10 interceptions for a passer rating against of 62.3. Dareus pairs with Campbell, Jackson, Yannick Ngakoue, and Dante Fowler on the defensive line alone. Campbell has 10 sacks in seven games, followed by 6.5 for Ngakoue, 5.5 for Fowler, and three for Jackson. Dareus was relegated to a backup role by defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier in Buffalo (and to their credit, it seemed to work for them, just as moving Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby doesn’t seem to be killing them either) but could make the Jags that much better over the rest of the season. He does have plenty of time left on a $100 million contract, but none of it is guaranteed past 2018.
I don’t know if the Jags are now the favorites in the AFC to make the Super Bowl, but they’re acting like it.