by David Austin Bumpus 10/13/15
Jamie Collins, in just his third season with the Patriots, is topping the team with his sacks and tackles, and has matured into a multi-talented machine capable of rushing the quarterback and dropping back into coverage.
In his rookie season, Collins had no sacks through 16 games. In his second year, which resulted in a Super Bowl victory for the team, Collins had just four sacks through 15 games. This year, Collins has created a solid reputation for himself, tallying a team-leading three and a half sacks through his first three games and creating havoc for opposing quarterbacks.
Collins also leads the defense with 22 tackles, 15 of them coming alone and seven of them assisted. In the Jacksonville game in Week 3, Collins had five tackles, four by himself, along with one sack and a forced fumble.
Collins has given Patriots opponents troubles throughout the first three weeks, but teams have still been unable to stop the speedy linebacker so far. The Patriots have utilized a talented defensive line to open up lanes for Collins, giving him the chance to rush in at full speed and sack quarterbacks or stop running backs before anything can come from the play.
Not only has Collins been successful in the pass rush, he has been a threat in pass coverage when quarterbacks try to take advantage of receiver on linebacker matchups. Quarterbacks were 6 for 11 for 34 yards when targeting Collins through the first three weeks of the year, who has shown his superior athleticism during his man coverage throughout this season.
It may seem like an easy answer on how to stop Jamie Collins: make it a point to focus on him when you’re on offense. However, Collins is one of those impact players that can still make plays when teams center their blocking around him, and the defensive line and linebackers are talented enough to make plays when Collins can’t. Between Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, and Dont’a Hightower, the Patriots have playmakers that can pick up the slack when Collins struggles to make plays.
Collins will be a player to watch for the rest of this season, and his emergence as a defensive star in such a short amount of time is causing teams to rethink their offensive strategies when playing the talented linebacker.