Shortly after the Jaguars pulled off their unexpected blockbuster trade to acquire two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Marcell Dareus from Buffalo last Friday, Malik Jackson didn’t know exactly what to make of the move.
Yet, he admitted his initial thoughts were strictly about himself.
“My first impression of the trade made me think inward – ‘What have I done and what do I need to do better?’” said Jackson, the Jaguars’ starting defensive tackle who has three sacks after seven games. “But then you kind of take yourself out of it and see what the team needs and what we’re lacking. And you see picking up a great asset like that is only going to help us.”
Behind Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue and Jackson, the Jaguars’ front was already considered to be a strength. But with a chance to make the playoffs for the first time in 10 years, the Jaguars’ management aggressively looked to add a talent like the 6-foot-3, 331-pound Dareus.
Now, the Jaguars think they landed a proven talent in Dareus to improve their struggling run defense, which enters Sunday’s game against Cincinnati ranked last in the NFL (138.6 yards per game) and they are surrendering 5.2 yards per rush, another league high. They slipped from 30th to last in rush defense without playing a game in Week 8.
“I like this trade a lot,” Campbell said. “I’ve studied [Dareus’] game since he came into the league [in 2011]. I always thought of him as a great player. He’s really good against both the run and the pass. One thing that I think is underappreciated is that he’s always around the ball in the run game. He has been clogging up holes and handling business for years.”
Dareus’ arrival could result in starting nose tackle Abry Jones getting shifted to reserve duty and Jackson seeing less snaps, along with back-up Sheldon Day.
“Being a lineman and seeing Dareus coming here – first I was a little shocked the Bills let him go,” Jackson said. “I think if you have a player like that and you’re able to acquire to help your team then you go get him. To see that we have been struggling to stop the run a little, I don’t think just the nose is a position that needs help. At the end of the day it’s depth with good players. You can’t have nothing better than that.”
Asked if the trade to acquire Dareus was a message sent by management that they are doing whatever necessary to help improve their playoff chances, middle linebacker and defensive captain Paul Posluszny agreed that it’s definitely a step in the right direction with nine games left and the Jaguars currently tied for the lead in the AFC South with the Tennessee Titans.
“Anytime you can bring guys in that you know can have an immediate impact and really help us get to where we want to go, it’s exciting to see,” Posluszny said.
Rookie defensive end Dawuane Smoot said it wasn’t hard to spot Dareus on his first day of work during Monday’s practice.
“I saw him pick up a dude and just throw him,” Smoot said. “He’s that strong and he’s definitely going to help our interior. I feel like we’ve put a lot of emphasis on getting better on the line and trying to become a more balanced defense.”