As the Buffalo Bills gear up for the 2021 NFL season, there are plenty of stats that will be looked at. But our friends at Touchdown Wire decide to hone in on just one single statistic that will matter for the Bills.
That number is 79.4 and it has to do with cornerback Levi Wallace.
On Friday ahead of their opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott named Wallace the team’s starter at cornerback.. This number, 79.4, was the passer rating Wallace allowed in 2020.
For more on why this matters, senior writer Doug Farrar has the breakdown:
The bookend position opposite Tre’Davious White at outside cornerback is a bit less defined, but could be sewn up this season. In 2020, Levi Wallace got the majority of the reps there, with 686 snaps at outside cornerback. On those snaps, Wallace allowed 38 catches on 68 targets for 462 yards, 128 yards after the catch, three touchdowns, two interceptions, six pass breakups, and an opponent passer rating of 79.4. This was a decided improvement over the five touchdowns and 93.2 opponent passer rating he allowed in the 2019 season. Wallace gave up two of those 2020 touchdowns and an opponent passer rating of 80.8 from Week 10 of the regular season through the AFC Championship Game, and the obvious hope is that the Alabama alum, now entering his fourth NFL season, is ready to rise to the next level, and make Buffalo’s secondary as lockdown as it needs to be.
Wallace being the focal point of the Bills defense is rather simple.
White is among the best in the NFL at what he does and opposing teams will not want to throw his way much. That makes Wallace an easier target to stomach for opponents, so he is going to have to step up.
In a positive sense, this is something Wallace is already used to since he has starting experience playing across from White. In 2021, Wallace might have his final shot to prove he can handle that pressure for the long haul.
But the same can probably be said for the Buffalo pass defense over the middle of the field, too. Opposing slot receivers and tight ends will likely get more looks because of White as well.