Linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. has been a disappointment so far in 2020, to say the least.
The entire Detroit Lions defense has played terribly, with all three units getting steam rolled for at least the last five quarters, but Collins has managed to stick out.
First, obviously, because he started his Lions career by earning himself one of the dumbest ejections of all time.
Lions LB Jamie Collins was ejected after making contact with an official with his helmet. pic.twitter.com/yvSAH5lwZ7— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) September 13, 2020
But, more so, because of how bad he has played. The veteran linebacker was brought into Detroit to be a leader on defense. He was supposed to be the best linebacker on the team, and a linebacker so good that the struggling players around him would get a natural boost.
That has not shown up, though. Collins has looked awful. He is slow, he is a step behind every play, he has no motor. The linebacker just does not look like he wants to play anymore. Through two games, he is very obviously not the player the Detroit Lions thought they were getting when they signed him last March.
The linebacker looks a step behind in almost every situation. For example, on this play against the Green Bay Packers, he navigates traffic well, but he just looks too slow to keep up with anyone on the field.
On this play, he is tasked with rushing off of the edge and shows absolutely no effort.
Here against the Chicago Bears, he gets shoved off the edge way too easily and barely even fights back to the tight end collapsing him on the edge.
This raises an interesting question, what it wrong with Collins? He was a great player for the New England Patriots last season and certainly played like a player who still had many more NFL years ahead of him. Suddenly, though, in Detroit he looks like a player whose career is nearing its end.
Regressing when he is separated from the Patriots is not something new to Collins. In 2016, he was traded to the Cleveland Browns, and while New England certainly felt his absence, the Browns did not get a particularly great player. The linebacker was a ghost in Cleveland’s defense, rarely being a major contributor for the team, and looking checked out.
After two and a half year with Cleveland, the Browns eventually decided to release him before the 2019 season. Collins went right back to New England and once again played very well in a Patriots uniform.
The night and day change from his time to the Browns to rejoining New England breathed life into the linebacker’s career. While a move to Detroit in 2020 once again pulled him away from the only franchise he has ever performed well with, he also would get to play under head coach Matt Patricia—his defensive coordinator during his prime days. If the problem in Cleveland was the system, then now he would be joining a team with the same system as New England.
This raises a key question regarding the linebackers poor play. Is it mental or is it physical?
At age 30, Collins is at an age where you sometimes see a player’s body start giving up on them. He has played seven long years in the NFL, playing at least 15 games in each season—outside of 2015, when he played 12 games. Maybe his body is just giving up. This would make sense, though it is a very concerning prospect for the team that just inked him to a three-year deal worth $30 million.
Collins could just be checked out, though. We have seen him check out in the past in Cleveland, and it is possible that the motivation is just not there for the veteran right now. This would signal a deeper problem and something many have suspected about Patricia. He may just be bad at motivating his players and getting the best out of them.
Either way, the Lions’ most exciting signing from the offseason has really struggled through two games, and there is not much to tell us things will get better in the coming weeks. Collins was supposed to be the defense’s savior. Instead, he has become a problem that may end up damning the team for years.