Landon Collins signed a six-year contract worth $84 million with the Washington Football Team in March 2019. At the time, it was the richest contract ever given to a safety.
Despite Collins’ accolades with the New York Giants, where he went to three Pro Bowls and was named first-team All-Pro back in 2016, Washington received a lot of criticism for the then-record contract.
For one, Collins was considered a box safety in a league where the box safety was minimized. Secondly, it was a lot of money for a team headed in the wrong direction with a lame-duck coach.
Finally, why would Washington, who had been prudent in free agency in recent years, pay for a luxury item with needs everywhere?
With all that being said, Collins is a good player. However, his first year in Washington certainly had its ups and downs.
Washington had a plethora of issues on defense in 2019. Collins was the least of the team’s problems last season, but he wasn’t the stabilizing force he was paid to be either.
Pro Football Focus gave Collins an overall grade of 69.2 in his first year with Washington. His run defense grade was a respectable 77.3, while his pass defense-grade checked in at 60.6.
Collins is a player who fills a specific role. The former coaching staff had no clue how to utilize Collins.
It was going to be better with Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio in charge.
Well, perhaps not.
In five games this season, Collins has accounted for 32 tackles, including three for loss, one sack, and one interception. Those are certainly not bad numbers through five weeks, but your eyes tell you a different story when watching Collins play.
LISTEN: Washington's Plan to Beat Broncos
Locked On Washington: Super Bowl Champ & former Broncos/Washington Football Team OT Tyler Polumbus Joins LOWFT!
Goodell Insists WFT's Snyder Already ‘Held Accountable’
"I do think he's been held accountable," NFL commissioner Goodell says of Snyder.
Source: Antonio Gibson Shin Means WFT Tryouts for 2 RBs
Washington NFL Draft Tracker for 2021: Check back often as we keep you up to date on WFT info, rumors, trends and scoop
On Monday, Washington coach Ron Rivera met with the media and was asked about the 56-yard touchdown catch from Robert Woods in the second quarter.
Kendall Fuller was in coverage on Woods, jammed him, and released him to the deep safety. That safety happened to be Collins, who allowed Woods to go right by him for an easy touchdown.
According to Rivera, Fuller did his job correctly, while Collins took a bad angle on the play.
Rivera isn’t the coach to throw his players under the bus, and he didn’t necessarily do that with Collins. He answered the question honestly. But it was clear he was not happy with the safety play.
Washington is getting next to nothing from the safety position. Free safety Troy Apke should not be on the field. At some point, rookie Kamren Curl needs to take that position over on a full-time basis.
Collins is not only taking bad angles; he’s missing tackles at an alarming rate. When we talk about why this defense isn’t showing the progress we expected, things like missed tackles are a major reason for the continued struggles.
Pro Football Focus has ranked 82 safeties in 2020. Collins is ranked No. 52, while Apke comes in at No. 61. Collins would certainly benefit from better play at free safety, but shouldn’t he be the stabilizing force at safety?
Collins is 26 years old and still has the ability to be a great player in this league. Washington just needs more from him — and now.
If Collins doesn’t get things turned around, he will be viewed as another free-agent bust owner Daniel Snyder just had to have because he idolized the great Sean Taylor.
Bryan Manning writes about the Washington Football Team for 'Washington Football' and contributed to All Hokies on SI.com as well. He has covered the NFL, MLB, NBA, college football and college basketball for almost 10 years for various outlets such as Bleacher Report, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today SMG, and others. For his day job, Bryan works in engineering for a major communications company.