JACKSONVILLE – Marcell Dareus' reaction was what you would imagine.
One minute on Friday he was a long-time member of the Buffalo Bills; the next, he was a brand-new member of the Jaguars.
That's as sudden as NFL change gets, particularly for a former Top 3 selection in the NFL Draft – a player who at one point was a face of the franchise that drafted him. It's life-altering stuff, which made the theme in Dareus' first Jaguars media availability Monday unsurprising.
Surprised? Yeah, Dareus said. You could say that.
"I still haven't gotten over it yet; I'm still in shock," Dareus said Monday as the Jaguars (4-3) prepared to play the Cincinnati Bengals (3-4) at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m. "I'm still taking it all in."
Dareus' foundation wasn't the only one shaken when the Jaguars sent a sixth-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft to Buffalo in exchange for Dareus Friday evening. This was big enough news in Buffalo that the Buffalo News sent a reporter to cover Monday's availability.
Dareus is that big a story in Buffalo: the No. 3 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, and a player who became the Bills' highest-paid player when he signed a contract extension in 2015.
How big a story will he be in Jacksonville?
Possibly very big. Dareus' addition could make what already was one of the NFL's best defenses more balanced – and therefore better. And he no doubt has the ability to make an already enticing, interesting Jaguars season even more so.
"I saw a lot of people saying that we won the bye week, and we did," Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith said. "That is definitely an upgrade for our defense."
Dareus indeed is that good. He's a two-position tackle, capable not only at nose tackle but at the three-technique position. That means he not only can pressure the quarterback (35 career sacks in seven seasons), but he can disrupt an opponent's running game.
"It's going to help the whole defense," said Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone, the Bills' head coach in Dareus' two most-productive seasons in terms of sacks – 2013 (7.5) and 2014 (10). "It's another player who is going to work in there and not get worn down – another player who you have to game plan against. Obviously, we're excited about it."
Dareus' pass rush could be viewed as a luxury. The Jaguars, after all, lead the NFL with 33 sacks. His run defense? That's necessity. The Jaguars rank 32nd in the NFL in rushing defense at 138.6 yards a game. They have allowed just over 192 yards per game in their three losses.
"We've struggled at times against the run, and I think he's going to be able to help our defense that way," Marrone said.
Dareus, while talented, had off-field issues in Buffalo – and teams don't trade players of his talent for no reason. Marrone on Monday addressed that aspect of the trade.
"It's just making sure you handle your responsibilities," Marrone said. "Do the right thing … if you don't, there's consequences. We all understand the consequences from a league perspective, I think all the players understand that and I think that all the players understand the consequences from an internal aspect of what we're looking for.
"I think the one thing with Marcell is because of the past, he knows what is expected from me and I think that's the most important thing. We've had open communication in the past and I expect that to be the same way now."
Said Dareus of Marrone, "I understand what he's looking for, and I'm going to do the best I possibly can to give him exactly what he's looking for."
Yes, Marrone is confident this is the right move for the Jaguars – and Dareus said he believed it was the right move for him, too. And although Dareus was honest enough Monday to admit being shocked and saddened to have been traded – "I thought Buffalo was home," he said – he seemed equally honest when discussing the Jaguars.
"It's hard to miss what these guys have been doing," Dareus said. "The way their defense has been playing, the way they've been running the ball, the weapons they have … it's hard to miss what's going on with these guys."
How quickly can Dareus make an impact? That remains to be seen.
"I'm still processing what I just went through," Dareus said Monday moments after his first practice. "I had meetings and just got off the field. I'm trying to feel my way through, I'm trying to see exactly what they want me to do. They're not making it hard and they're going to give me everything I possibly need for a smooth transition."
Yes, the shock Dareus felt over the weekend was real – and his transition may not happen in one day or a week. But make no mistake: His impact could be very real – even defense-altering.
If it is, an already interesting season could get a lot more interesting indeed.