While the Buffalo Bills‘ offense rightfully receives a lot of attention, it’s difficult to ignore the insane talent and versatility of quarterback Josh Allen, but the team’s defense is shaping up to be a formidable force as the team readies for their 2021 NFL season.
During a press conference on September 8, Bills assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier named an unexpected player to become this season’s “breakout player,” defensive tackle Ed Oliver.
“There’s a chance he could go to the next level with his performance this season and that would be great for us,” Frazier announced, per 13WHAM reporter Dan Fetes.
“Ed Oliver has a chance to open some eyes around the league this season,” Frazier continued, according to Bills Insider Chris Brown. I’m looking forward to him having a bust out season. We’ve challenged Oliver to deliver those impact plays on a consistent basis. He has a desire to be a really good player and that will help him going forward.
“Oliver has matured as a player. Had a good camp, preseason. Expect him to have a really good season as well.”
The 23-year-old defensive tackle is preparing for his third year in the NFL. A 2019 first-round pick out of the University of Houston, Oliver, who’s 6-foot-1 and 287 pounds, started all 16 games for the AFC champions last year, tallying 33 tackles, three sacks and six quarterback hits. During his rookie season with the Bills, Oliver recorded five sacks.
NFL.com Ranked Bills Defense as the 9th Best in the League
NFL.com ‘s Adam Schein ranked Buffalo’s defensive unit as the 9th best in the league, and also personally named Oliver as one to watch.
“I was stunned how nondescript the Bills’ defense was last season,” Stein wrote. “Sean McDermott is a fantastic head coach and defensive mind, and I love coordinator Leslie Frazier. I expect a major bounceback in 2021. It has to start with a pair of highly pedigreed players: LB Tremaine Edmunds and DT Ed Oliver.
“Both selected in the top half of their respective first rounds, Edmunds and Oliver were far too inconsistent last year. The talent is there — there’s no excuse. I’m expecting a breakthrough season from last year’s highest draft pick, A.J. Epenesa, as well. The pass rush just needs to be better in Buffalo.”
Bills Take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1
The Bills have the advantage of kicking off their 2021 NFL season at home at Orchard Park on Sunday, September 12 where they will be taking on Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
This is the third time in the past three seasons the two teams will play against each other, and the Bills took the win in the last two matchups.
Last season, Buffalo beat Pittsburgh by 11 points in Week 14. In 2019, the Bills won by seven points in Week 15, which secured the team’s spot in the playoffs.
Bills head coach Sean McDermott, who’s a former college teammate of the Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin, said before Sunday’s game, “They’re a good football team, and we expect to a very tough game.”