Just when fans thought it couldn’t get any worse for the Buffalo Bills and their depleted roster, it got worse. All-Pro defensive tackle Marcell Dareus will miss the first four games of the 2016 NFL season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
The 26-year-old told the media on Wednesday that the suspension came as the result of a missed drug test. NFL reporter Ian Rapoport basically concurred with that statement a day prior, only adding the suspension was due to “either failed or missed drug tests involving his use of marijuana.”
Rapoport also reported that the Bills found out about the suspension just “two hours” prior to the story going public.
This is just one of many gaffes in this disastrous offseason for the Buffalo Bills. Let’s see. Where do we even begin?
Well, first there was first-round pick Shaq Lawson immediately hurting his shoulder and requiring surgery just a mere few weeks after the team selected him. Several teams red-flagged Lawson in the draft and didn’t select him out of fear for his less than 100 percent shoulder.
Then last week, second-round pick Reggie Ragland tore his ACL and will miss the entire season. At least Lawson still has a chance to return at about the midpoint of the season, but the two linebackers Rex Ryan was hoping would fix his 3-4 defense will miss substantial time in 2016.
Then there’s outside linebacker Manny Lawson, who is facing a one-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on domestic violence. The Buffalo News broke that story Tuesday, so there will likely be more developments in it over the ensuing weeks. First-time domestic violence abusers are supposed to face a six-game ban, so it’s unclear at this point why Lawson’s suspension is just one game.
Regardless, assuming the two rookies would have earned starting roles, the Bills’ defense will be missing four starters for at least Week 1 when Buffalo opens the season against Baltimore.
And that’s just on defense. No. 2 running back Karlos Williams came into minicamp 20-25 pounds overweight, tried to blame his wife for the weight gain, then also violated the league’s substance abuse policy and will miss four games. Not to mention, starting running back LeSean McCoy skated by without punishment for his involvement with a night club brawl in Philadelphia back in February. Buffalo fans should feel fortunate they aren’t missing both top running backs at the beginning of the season.
To be fair to Buffalo, the injuries aren’t really in their control (although their training staff did clear an injury-prone college linebacker to be picked in the first round). That’s at least partially bad luck.
But Dareus is different. He’s one of the most important players for the Bills defense, in fact, their team, and one of the most vastly underrated players around the league. In the final two seasons under Jim Schwartz’s defense, Dareus made two Pro Bowls, registering a combined 17.5 sacks. During the 2014 season, he made All-Pro with 10.0 sacks.
So this isn’t his first rodeo. A five-year veteran should know better than to smoke marijuana or miss a drug test. Rightfully so, Buffalo made Dareus know about his stupidity in a statement blasting him Wednesday. Although it seems a lot of the anger coming from the Bills front office is the result of this disastrous offseason, what was stated about Dareus was true.
In 2014, the Bills posted their first winning season in a decade, but Buffalo only seems to be moving backwards under Ryan’s leadership since then. That being said, no one can possibly argue Ryan is on the hot seat entering the season when his defense is already missing four starters.