When the New England Patriots selected linebacker Jamie Collins in the second round of last year’s draft, they were unsure of exactly what they would be getting. After a breakout game against the Indianapolis Colts in the second round of the NFL playoffs, they know they have a potential game-changing defender.
The big question heading into the matchup with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos is whether or not Collins can repeat his dominating performance.
Collins, a versatile defender, was all over the field on Saturday night. When he wasn’t pressuring Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, he was blanket-covering tight end Colby Fleener on the outside, or simply salting the win away with an interception 30 yards down the field. It’s that kind of do-it-all defender that Bill Belichick and the Patriots have valued during their recent run of success.
Versatility is nothing new to Collins, who played quarterback in high school before playing everything from safety to defensive end at Southern Miss. His best position in the NFL is outside linebacker, but his ability to shift all over the field makes him invaluable to the Patriots, especially against an offense like the Broncos that can throw so many playmakers on the field at the same time.
Manning and the Broncos thrive on forcing the defense into unfavorable matchups and taking advantage of them. There is no quarterback in the league who is better at getting his team in the right formation time after time as Manning. If you put too many defensive backs on the field, he’ll bunch it in and run on you. If you stack the box with linebackers, he’ll spread you out and attack the defenders who can’t cover. The key to stopping his offense is having defenders who can both stop the run and play man-to-man coverage.
Basically, you need a whole team of Jamie Collins out there.
Collins had his best game as a pro by far this past weekend against the Colts. If the Patriots want to get past the high-powered Broncos and earn another chance at the now-elusive Super Bowl title, they will need him to be just as dominant this coming weekend.