There have been obstacles the past two seasons that have compromised the effectiveness of what many saw as a dream duo on Buffalo's defensive interior. Bone spurs on both heels for Kyle Williams and a personal off the field tragedy for Marcell Dareus kept the defensive tackles from operating together at peak performance. Through the first two games in 2013, Dareus and Williams have begun to be the disruptive force most expected.
The two interior defenders combined for 10 tackles, including one for loss, a half sack, two quarterback hits and a pass breakup. Marcell Dareus feels they've just begun to scratch the surface in Mike Pettine's new defensive scheme.
"We're still trying to figure ourselves out," Dareus said. "We still have 14 games to play. That's where we're at right now. We're still building on it. We've got to build on that win and do better the rest of the season."
The game plan Sunday was to drive their offensive linemen back off the line of scrimmage and collapse the pocket to prevent Cam Newton from stepping up to avoid the outside pass rush.
"That was the whole game plan for us to just kind of be the best we can and get in his face and keep him uncomfortable," said Dareus. "As the game went on we just kept getting in his face, kept pushing O-linemen in his face so he couldn't get his throwing motion the way he wanted it. He had to look other ways and then Mario came on in and made the plays he was supposed to make or pressured him the way we needed to. So it all worked in our favor."
Their effectiveness forced Carolina's offense to make a decision. They either had to double down on Buffalo's defensive tackle and leave Mario Williams one-on-one outside or double the Bills top pass rusher and risk giving Dareus or Kyle Williams a one-on-one opportunity in the middle.
"Obviously Mario did a great job winning the one-on-one battles, which is what he has to do, but when you have other players around you that are pushing the pocket or taking the double teams off (of you), which people are going to do to Mario, it frees some people up," said head coach Doug Marrone. "Just like anything else it's a team effort. It's kind of chain reaction between Mario and Kyle and Marcell."
Williams and Dareus were also effective in bottling up Carolina's inside run game. DeAngelo Williams has a career yards per carry average of 4.9, but on Sunday he was held a full yard under that mark (3.9) managing just 85 yards on 22 carries.
"That's just what we're expecting of course and we worked hard in the offseason to be able to do that," said Dareus. "Hopefully we can carry that through the rest of the season and just keep busting our butts. That's how the game goes."
Dareus didn't mind that Mario Williams got most of the headlines with his team record 4.5 sacks Sunday. Buffalo dropped Newton six times and he was pressured on nine other drop backs leading to several overthrown passes.
"We all work together," Dareus said. "I feel like a sack is not an individual goal. It's a collective thing for everybody. Our DBs do their job and me and Kyle do our job and Alex Carrington does his job it leaves (Mario) open to get one-on-ones with the running back, one-on-one with the tackle and have the line slide our way. "Me and Kyle pushed the pocket where Cam couldn't run through the middle, which he wants to do. By us holding him to that it allows Mario to just have fun and do his thing. It just feeds the whole defense. We stayed on top of him no matter what the situation was. They went down (in the red zone) three times and we held them to three points each time. It was a big plus for us and we just feed off of it."
"I think we know we can do good things," said Kyle Williams. "We've got some good players. Schematically, we do some things that give people trouble. We're only on the tip of the iceberg here. We're only going to get better and better the further along we go."