The Washington Football Team defense stinks, and there’s no evidence to suggest that’ll change anytime soon. A get-right game against the New Orleans Saints awaits in Week 5, but we know better than to set high expectations.
After all, that was the narrative heading into Sunday’s game in Atlanta, and the defense fell on its face…again. When the dust settled, it allowed a declining Matt Ryan to throw for 283 yards and four touchdowns.
It was the same old story. Missed tackles in the open field, including the redzone. Blown assignments in the secondary leading to big-play touchdowns. At some point, there has to be some accountability.
While Jack Del Rio deserves the majority of the blame, his players haven’t performed up to snuff. That would be an understatement.
For the sake of time, though — highlighting every underachiever would take hours — let’s focus our attention on one Landon Collins.
What exactly should Washington do with their expensive safety?
As the weeks go by, Landon Collins is proving to be a huge liability in Washington’s secondary.
Missed tackles in the redzone are a death sentence, and Collins whiffed big time on one of Cordarrelle Patterson’s three touchdowns. We saw some fans defending Collins on Twitter, saying Patterson uncorked a filthy juke move to elude the tackle. We hear that, but we’re also talking about an $84 million safety. Collins is paid to make those plays, and he didn’t in what was a huge point in the game.
Remember all the buzz Collins garnered during training camp? All we heard was that he looked like a player reborn following Achilles surgery. In fairness to those reports, Collins showed a ton of promise during the preseason. Once the regular season started, though, his greatest flaws reared their ugly head.
The infuriating part of it all is that Collins profiles as a box safety. He’s a physical specimen who can get downhill in a hurry to defend the run and bullrush opposing quarterbacks. His numbers this season reflect that, as he’s earned a 64.4 run defense grade and 82.8 pass rush grade from Pro Football Focus.
Those are impressive numbers. Unfortunately, that’s all Collins has been good for this season. A box safety isn’t tasked with a ton of coverage responsibilities. However, they’re expected to hold their own when the time comes, and Collins has repeatedly come up short for Washington in that regard.
Whether it’s a late read on a passing down, whiffing on a big tackle — he has five through four games, equating to a grotesque 16.1% rate — or not looking on the same page as his fellow DBs, Collins has been a disaster in coverage.
The former All-Pro has a 44.6 coverage grade from PFF and is conceding a 122.4 passer rating, the highest of his career, per Pro Football Reference. It’s one thing if the eye test indicates a player is underperforming, but when the stats back it up, that’s when you know you have a problem on your hands.
So, what can Washington do to fix it? Well, reducing his playing time comes to mind. The 27-year-old played 100% of the snaps against the Falcons. That cannot happen again until he shows signs of improvement.
Cutting him is obviously out of the equation … unless the front office is willing to swallow $26.3 million in dead cap. Assuming that isn’t an option, perhaps the franchise can exercise patience, ride it out this season, and look into trading/releasing him in the offseason if his woes continue.
At this point, if Collins continues on this trajectory, he won’t be back in the Burgundy and Gold next year. While he’s a serviceable as a box safety that plays closer to the line of scrimmage, that’s not why he was given a lucrative contract.
Anyone else miss the Kamren Curl and Jeremy Reaves pairing?