1 – This Bills veteran says something special is brewing at One Bills Drive
Having been in the league for over a decade, Lorenzo Alexander is familiar with the emotions that come with being an NFL player.
He’s experienced the euphoria that comes with making the playoffs as well as the agony that comes with being on the outside looking in come late December. At 35 years of age, Alexander is currently writing the final chapter of what will go down as a storybook career, a special teamer-turned-Pro Bowl MVP who was incredibly respected by his peers.
There’s one thing preventing Alexander from officially closing out his career, however - he can sense that the Bills are on the verge of a breakout season.
“Obviously something special is brewing here,” Alexander said. “I’ve been on some teams that have had some struggling years leading up to before they exploded, and so I kind of recognize some of those signs. Obviously you never want to leave, then that’s when something special happens. That’s always in the back of my mind.
“There’s a lot of great talent, young talent, here, and it’s definitely been going on the rise as far as their development. Next year, I think, is going to be something special that occurs here.”
The 2019 season could realistically be the year in which the Bills break out. The team’s foundational pieces will be a year older, and having gone through an entire NFL season, they’ll be more confident in their own abilities.
Still playing at an incredibly high level, Alexander feels as though he could assist the team’s young core next season.
“I think next year, with a lot of these young guys, they understand how to win on the road, how to close out a lot of those games,” Alexander said. “We could easily find ourselves in a much different position [next year].”
2 - Defense’s statistical success is ‘something to build on’
Throughout the majority of the 2018 season, Buffalo’s defense has ranked among the top defenses in the NFL in numerous statistical categories.
Statistically, few defenses have been more effective than Buffalo’s this year. Allowing an average of just 298.7 yards per game, the unit currently ranks second in total defense, trailing only the Baltimore Ravens. The Bills’ defense has also been the league’s best at defending the past, allowing an average of just 182.7 yards through the air per game.
Improving upon a 2017 season in which they finished with the league’s 26th ranked defense was a goal entering the new campaign, according to defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. Though wins are the ultimate goal, Frazier feels as though finishing atop the league in multiple defensive categories is a step in the right direction.
“We talked before the season, and you always have goals beyond the team goals,” Frazier said. “Part of our goals on defense was to be a top five defense, and we have a chance to finish the season in the top-five in the number categories.
“That means a lot, but what means the most is winning and having a chance to be in the playoffs. We’ve fallen short in that area as a group, but from a defensive standpoint, to be able to finish in the top five, that would be something positive to build on going into the offseason.”
3 – Levi Wallace one of PFF’s top rookie CBs
All Levi Wallace has ever needed is an opportunity.
There’s never been a palpable hype surrounding the cornerback. The Tucson, AZ-native wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school, receiving zero scholarship offers from division one programs. Putting trust in his own ability, Wallace bet on himself, enrolling at the University of Alabama as a walk-on. He eventually won a starting job in the Crimson Tide’s secondary, helping the team capture the National Championship in his senior year.
After going unselected in the 2018 draft, Wallace was forced to bet on himself yet again, inking a deal with the Bills as an undrafted free agent. After spending the first ten weeks of his professional career on Buffalo’s practice squad, he finally received an opportunity to make an impact, and he delivered.
Wallace has started every game at cornerback since being promoted to the active roster in Week 10, totaling 30 tackles and two pass deflections. The 23-year-old has been one of the NFL’s best defensive backs since making his debut, and he’s emerged as one of the league’s standout rookie corners.
According to Pro Football Focus, Wallace is currently the second-best rookie cornerback in the NFL, trailing only Cleveland defensive back Denzel Ward. The Browns took Ward with the fourth overall pick in the 2018 draft.
Wallace rounds out a promising Buffalo cornerback corps that also includes Tre’Davious White and nickel defender Taron Johnson, the latter of whom rounds out PFF’s top-five list.