The Buffalo Bills’ defense was once again one of the best units in all of football despite the immense struggles in the two postseason games. The group allowed the sixth-fewest yards per game at 319.1 and the second-fewest points per game, at just 17.9. They were third in Football Outsider’s DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) Run Defense rankings with a score of -19.7% and fourth overall with a cumulative score of -11%. Buffalo allowed the fifth-fewest rushing yards per game at 104.6. A meaningful portion of the success must be credited to the addition of defensive tackle DaQuan Jones. His importance to the defensive line and the defense as a whole is why we rank him eighth on our list.
DaQuan Jones came in at No. 8 in the Cover 1 cumulative Top 10 Important Player rankings by earning 15 out of 70 possible points (first-place vote = 10 points, tenth-place vote = 1). Jones’ highest ranking came from @LowBuffa, @Stasetistics, and @UberHansen, who placed him at No. 7. The interior defensive lineman finished just ahead of No. 9 Von Miller, who racked up nine points from the team.
The boxscore stats aren’t always a fair picture of how effective an IDL (interior defensive lineman) is playing, but Jones stacks up pretty well when compared to his Bills’ teammates. The former fourth-round pick had two sacks, good enough for sixth on Buffalo. His 33 quarterback pressures landed him fourth on the squad, and the 650 snaps were seventh most. Not too shabby for a guy clogging up the middle of a defense that emphasized the need for a rotation up front. Examining those numbers versus other IDL, his 19 hurries were 36th most while leading all Bills. He only missed five tackles, according to PFF (Pro Football Focus) which places him tops on the Bills and 31st overall. “Jones’ impact as a run stuffer and block eater has made the whole front seven better. He might be the most irreplaceable Bill on this team besides Allen.” – @LowBuffa
There may be no more important position to look at the analytics than IDL. Those hogs usually don’t rack up the counting stats, so deeper analysis is often needed, and those numbers favor Jones. According to PFF, Jones was the 17th-best IDL at overall defense, with a grade of 73.6. That puts him 14 spots ahead of teammate Ed Oliver and in a group with Calais Campbell, Shelby Harris, and Leonard Williams. He finished with a 72.7 pass rush grade, just .1 points behind some dude named TJ Watt. His run defense score was also the best on the Bills, earning a grade of 66.4 or the 24th-best mark in the NFL. “The Bills have been gashed on the run season after season as they searched for a true 1T DT. They found just that in DaQuan Jones finishing the season with the third-ranked Rush Defense DVOA with Jones leading all Defensive Linemen in Snaps,” – @UberHansen.
Game of the Year:
Jones’ best game in 2022 came in a 28-25 Week 12 win at Detroit on Thanksgiving. The Penn State product had a sack, six tackles, and a pair of QB hurries all from the inside of the line, per Pro Football Reference. PFF ranked it as his second-best overall defensive performance of the year and his best pass rush showing of 2022. @Stasetistics put it best, “DaQuan Jones anchored down the middle of the defensive line and proved himself valuable as a newcomer to Bills last offseason.” This was certainly true in the Buffalo win over a Detroit team that had one of the better second halves to the 2022 season.
According to Spotrac, DaQuan Jones signed a two-year, $14,000,000 contract with the Bills before the 2022 season. The deal includes a $5,500,000 signing bonus, $10,625,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $7,000,000. They added that in 2023, Jones will earn a base salary of $6,750,000, while carrying a cap hit of $8,583,333 and a dead cap value of $7,041,668.
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Vorse’s Final Take:
The biggest bummer in 2022 may have been learning just how valuable DaQuan Jones was in his absence versus the Bengals in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Buffalo was taking on a Cincinnati team missing 60% of its starting offensive line, and the Bills couldn’t capitalize, thanks in large (literally) part to Jones’ injury. @AjayCybulski agrees, adding, “you saw what happened to the Bills against Cincinnati with Jones out for the first time all year. Takes on multiple blockers, and opens up room for the rest of the defensive line to go to work.” We thought Jones was going to be a huge (again, literally) addition for the Bills in 2022, and he was, the former Nittany Lion is the 1T Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier have coveted for years. His tenth season in the NFL will again be in Buffalo, and fans should be excited about what he can do with another year in this system. In an offseason where a lot of questions will be asked about saving money and finding cap space for Jordan Poyer, Tremaine Edmunds, and more, Buffalo has a really solid deal with Jones, owing him a base salary of $6,750,000.
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