From the phone call from the Buffalo Bills informing him of the trade to his arrival in Jacksonville amid the annual Florida-Georgia game at EverBank Field to meeting the coaching staff to quiet moments in his hotel room, Dareus said he was still trying to adjust even as he participated in his first practice Monday morning.
“I still haven’t gotten over it yet,” Dareus said. “I’m still in shock. I’m shocked for a trade. I’m shocked that this defense, this team … I’m still just taking it all in. It’s three days, man. Three days.”
The Jaguars’ newest defensive tackle said he had an idea that something may have been in the works last week but he continued to prepare for the Bills’ home game against Oakland. When he was told he was headed to Jacksonville in exchange for a sixth-round pick in 2018, things started to happen pretty quickly.
Friends and teammates stopped by his home on Friday night to say goodbye, and on Saturday morning he was headed to the airport with a one-way ticket.
“I still haven’t gotten over it yet. I’m still in shock. I’m shocked for a trade. I’m shocked that this defense, this team … I’m still just taking it all in. It’s three days, man. Three days.”
“Little overwhelming,” Dareus said. “Kind of saw some things happening but at the same time I was getting prepared for the game and we had a game plan in and I was practicing all week and I’m just zoned in, trying to keep negativity out. And when I got the call and things happened the way it did, I can’t lie it did make me a little emotional because I know [Saturday] it is a one-way ticket [to Jacksonville].
“It was so swift that before I knew it I was already in Charlotte and by the time I got to Charlotte, a blink of the eye and I’m here in Jacksonville saying hey to the coaches, the biggest cocktail party in the world, and with all that going on it was just — the world is spinning. Traded, on the plane, cocktail party, going to the stadium, saying hello, getting out, going to the hotel room laying on the bed looking at the roof: What is going on?”
Dareus isn’t completely unfamiliar with the Jaguars. Doug Marrone was the head coach and Nathaniel Hackett the offensive coordinator in Buffalo in 2013-14. Jason Rebrovich is the Jaguars’ assistant defensive line coach and he was a quality control/assistant defensive line coach under Marrone in Buffalo, too.
That at least helped to somewhat lessen the shock, but he’s now caught up in learning the Jaguars’ defensive system and finding out where he fits in. The Jaguars are last in the NFL against the run (138.6 yards per game) and no team has allowed more than their 5.2 yards per rush. The 6-foot-3, 331-pound Dareus gets headlines because of his prowess as an interior pass-rusher (35 sacks in six-plus seasons) but he’s one of the league’s better run-stuffing tackles.
Dareus had his two best seasons under Marrone, racking up 17.5 sacks in 2013-14 and making the Pro Bowl in both seasons. The move does come with some risk. Dareus has had more than his share of off-field issues — he was benched for being late to a team meeting in 2013, was sent home from a preseason game this year for violating a team rule, was twice suspended for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, and he’s had two offseason arrests — but the Jaguars believe the help the Alabama product can bring the run defense is worth the risk.
“We’re all at risk, myself, everybody,” Marrone said. “I think some people get themselves in situations [and] you hope that they learn from it. If they don’t then obviously there’s consequences.”
Dareus said he’s glad to be getting a fresh start.
“I thought that Buffalo was home and extremely happy for everything I’ve done there, everything they’ve done for me, the organization,” he said. “… “At the same time it’s a business and this is where I am and I am thoroughly happy just to be a Jag. It feels good to be wanted.”