Those who watch the Buffalo Bills every week know how good Tre’Davious White has been this season.
The second-year cornerback is well on his way to shut-down status — even if the rest of the league isn’t fully aware of it.
“He doesn’t get enough respect,” Pro Bowl safety Micah Hyde said of White. “I love playing with him. The energy he brings on and off the field, he makes it fun to come to work every day. We appreciate everything he does. Most of the time he’s matched up against the other team’s best wide receiver, and he holds his own.”
Slowly, however, White is gaining that notoriety. Austin Gayle, an editor with Pro Football Focus, tweeted this week that White has allowed just 58 total yards in 241 coverage snaps since Week 5, a total of seven games. That’s an average of 0.24 yards per coverage snap. Since Week 9, it’s been even better — a total of 8 yards on 96 coverage snaps, an average of 0.08 yards per coverage snap.
“Insanity,” is how Gayle summarized those numbers.
For the season, White has taken 25 snaps for every reception allowed, 12.5 snaps for every time he’s been targeted and 0.43 yards per snap — all of which lead PFF’s rankings.
“I mean, just from watching film, I’m definitely playing better than I did last year, even though I’m not getting the takeaways that I got last year,” White said. “I’m still playing better.”
There’s a good reason White’s not getting the opportunities, according to coach Sean McDermott.
“He's been very solid. I think he's gaining some respect around the league by the number of balls each game that he's faced this year,” the coach said.
It’s true that some of the truly elite cornerbacks in the NFL don’t always have huge interception numbers for the simple reason that teams elect not to throw in their direction. White is rapidly approaching that status.
Just look at some of his results in coverage from the last two months:
• In Week 7 against Indianapolis, T.Y. Hilton made just one catch for 8 yards.
• In Week 8 against New England, Josh Gordon had two catches for 15 yards.
• In Week 9 against Chicago, White was targeted three times, but did not allow a catch.
• In Week 10 against the New York Jets, Quincy Enunwa had two catches for 15 yards.
• In Week 12 against Jacksonville, Donte Moncrief was targeted twice with White in coverage, and failed to record a catch.
McDermott said of White locking down the opposition’s No. 1., “He's wired that way. He embraces that challenge. I've been around some good corners, and not everyone wants to do that. Some are better on one side or the other. Tre'Davious offers the versatility to go left and right.”
Despite the gaudy analytics numbers, White’s interception total might lead the casual observer to think that he’s having a down year. After making four picks as a rookie, he’s got one in 2018.
“People can be blinded by numbers,” White said. “They see a guy with five, six picks, but that can be deceiving. It's not necessarily that they're playing at a high level. I try to put great stuff on film so the real people that know football, watch the film, they know how I'm performing.
“When you're good, guys try to shy away from you,” he continued. “I don't try to go into a game thinking that way, because when the ball comes my way, I want to make a team pay for throwing my way. Whenever I get the opportunity, 50-50 balls, I just plan on coming away with it. I continue to practice hard, prepare well, and whenever the takeaways start coming, they start coming. I've got five games to try to get some of those.”
White’s on-field demeanor hasn’t changed. He’s still dancing around during every break in the action, including last week against the Jaguars behind the referee trying to signal that it was the Bills’ ball.
“He's able to joke and stuff like that because of the work that he's put in. He's gotten to this level of his career by just having fun,” Hyde said. “I've said it before: I was excited to see what he did from year one to year two, because that's the biggest leap you're going to have in your career — understanding the game going into your second year. You've had an offseason to collect your thoughts and improve yourself. He's done everything he should have done.”
White and Hyde, along with fellow safety Jordan Poyer, lead a secondary that ranks No. 1 in the NFL in passing yards allowed, at just 193.7 yards per game. The Bills are looking to hold their opponent to less than 200 net passing yards for the fourth straight game Sunday in Miami.
“We feel like we never get the respect that we deserve,” White said. “We've got the No. 1 passing defense in the NFL and we don't get that respect. But that just comes with it. We're going to try to continue to finish the season as the No. 1 pass defense.”
Guard John Miller did not practice Thursday because of a strained oblique. He’s missed both practices this week. Tight end Logan Thomas also didn’t practice, but he’s not injured – his wife was expecting their fifth child.
Limited in practice were quarterback Derek Anderson (concussion), tight end Charles Clay (hamstring), cornerback Taron Johnson (shoulder) and cornerback Lafayette Pitts (concussion).