It's no secret that the Washington Football Team has been the void of talent at the safety position since Sean Taylor passed away 13 years ago. Last off season, Washington may have signed the closest thing talent wise fans have seen to Sean Taylor. In 2019, veteran Landon Collins signed a 6 year 84 million dollar contract with 26 million of that guaranteed. At just 25 years old, Collins was already on his second contract after playing his first four years with the New York Giants. After being drafted 33rd overall in 2015, Collins would go on to become a 3-time Pro Bowler (2016-2018) and a first team All-Pro in 2016. He was a ball-hawk and made play after play during his tenure with the Giants, which had many making references to his style being comparable to ST21. After one full season with the Redskins, that chatter has tapered down to a whisper and not much has been mentioned about Landon Collins’ "impact". After all, if you pay a strong safety 84 million dollars, you expect to receive some return on your investment. Quite honestly Collins did not play up to anywhere close to that number in 2019. That's not to say he played poorly or that it was completely his fault.
Collins had an unusually quiet first season with Washington compiling 117 tackles and 2 forced fumbles. Definitely not "poor" numbers, but he has not recorded an interception since the 2017 season. At some point as a football player, you just have to make plays, and Collins has not been on the positive end of enough of those since signing with Washington. That could all change this upcoming season with defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio calling the sets and putting Collins in the necessary positions to maximize his skillset. Collins is most effective attacking, not covering and chasing receivers around the field. Circumstantially he is able to cover tight ends in this league, but I wouldn't want him chasing the likes of Zach Ertz and George Kittle around all day long. You want to get him close to the line of scrimmage as often as possible and allow him to play in space where he can use his athleticism to chase the football. I fully expect Washington’s defense to be in attack mode with the current coaching staff and personnel assembled on this roster. That caters perfectly to what Landon Collins does well. He is a "seek and destroy" type player that loves contact and feeds off of the energy of making a play at or behind the line of scrimmage.
This year during training camp, there hasn't been much buzz around Landon Collins' name, but that doesn't necessarily mean he isn't taking care of his business on the field and in the film room. For a veteran like Collins, training camp is more about learning his fits around the field and making sure he is in the right positions at the right time. If Landon was making plays all over the field, you would hear some saying "he isn't going to do that during the season though", but now that you barely hear his name at all, it's "Collins isn't having a great camp". That isn't necessarily true. You have to see how his preparation translates to regular season production for a player in his position. If he has been studying film appropriately, and working together with his teammates and coaches to execute effectively, everything else will take care of itself when live action begins. Collins has a minimal amount to prove being dominant in camp as long as he is mentally where he needs to be and the coaching staff is able to recognize that he is cohesive with the rest of the defense. A player with his talent level, and at his age, could have even more of a breakout year in 2020 than he had his sophomore season in 2016. Washington’s current defense is the best talent he has played with from top to bottom since he has been in the league. You can look for the entire defense to benefit from that including Collins.
Washington opens up September 13th against the Philadelphia Eagles. The clock starts ticking at kickoff for Landon Collins to make a name for himself in a Washington uniform. He has consistently indicated Sean Taylor was his favorite player and that he tries to emulate him on the field. Collins may have unknowingly put a bit of a target on his own back by referencing Taylor, so fans in turn expect to see the second coming when he is on the field. It isn't fair to him and it's not realistic. At this juncture, Washington just needs the best version of Landon Collins they can get. At some point, someone will fill that void Taylor left at safety. If I'm Landon Collins, there is no time better than the present and no player better than me to do it. As you were…
Photo Credit: Elijah Walter Griffin Sr/Washington Football Team