On a team that doles out second chances, Marcell Dareus puts Bills in a bad spot
Six weeks ago, Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone expressed confidence that defensive tackle Marcell Dareus had straightened himself out.
Marrone benched Dareus for the first quarter of the penultimate game after arriving late to team meetings. The very next day, Dareus showed up late again and got benched for the first half of the season finale.
"I'm sure that he was disappointed. We both were," Marrone told me at the NFL's annual owners meetings in Orlando, Fla. "We talked about it.
"But it's a situation that happens, and I don't see it happening again. You make mistakes, and you just move on from it. He's going to be fine. He really is."
Dareus was arrested Monday on felony charges for possessing a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia in Alabama. A source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Buffalo News the substance was synthetic marijuana, which can avoid detection in a drug test.
That slapping noise you heard echoing around Western New York was from a bunch of palms striking foreheads at One Bills Drive.
Two sources informed me today the team has been concerned about Dareus' marijuana usage since Chan Gailey was coach, but nobody has been able to convince Dareus to stop getting high.
Monday's arrest creates a difficult situation for the Bills, a team that has extended redemptive chances to several players in the past year.
The NFL could ease the Bills' discipline burden by stepping in with a four-game suspension, but Dareus doesn't seem to learn easily or care much.
At what point do Marrone and GM Doug Whaley send a message to Dareus and the others about what won't be tolerated?
How do the Bills expect to reclaim guys like receiver Mike Williams and linebacker Brandon Spikes, whose bad behavior got them sideways with their previous employers?
How can the Bills expect youngsters -- some with histories of getting suspended and/or kicked off their college teams for being drunk and stupid -- remain model teammates when one of their young stars keeps blowing off authority?
Marrone discussed his philosophy on second chances while chatting in Orlando about the Spikes signing. Spikes has been suspended for performance-enhancing drugs and had a sex tape leaked. The New England Patriots reportedly benched Spikes in the playoffs last year for tardiness.
"Each situation's different and what that mistake may be," Marrone said. "There are some things that you can't come back from, but the individual that we've talked about today we've talked about in detail.
"They understand that stuff is not going to be tolerated. If something happens, they won't be part of it. I think you just tell them that, and they understand that.
"They should feel a sense of having a chance to better themselves. We're in the business to win football games, but we're also in the business to make sure that our players and our coaches work together to better ourselves and our communities as husbands and fathers."
Dareus, the third overall draft pick in 2011, went to his first Pro Bowl last season. Marrone has viewed him as a critical component to the Bills' success, but the coach's patience must be thinning.
"He can be one of the more dominant players at his position," Marrone said in Orlando. "I think he's a heck of a football player.
"He brings a lot to our defense. He brings a lot to our building. I'm excited about him. As we move forward, I hope he's with us his entire career."