For 30 minutes, the Washington Football Team’s defense held up their end of the bargain against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
Then, however, the second half happened. When the dust settled, Washington’s defense surrendered 31 points and 499 yards of offense, while allowing the Chiefs to convert 64.7% (11-of-17) of their third downs.
We’re hard-pressed to put the blame on one player’s shoulders. Per usual, though, it was the secondary that put Washington in adverse situations.
William Jackson was picked apart by Patrick Mahomes. Unlike his running mate, Kendall Fuller didn’t give up any big plays. However, he still gave up nine receptions on 12 targets (75%) for 59 yards, per Pro Football Focus.
However, for this article, let’s focus on a player who was recently moved out of the secondary. We’re referencing Landon Collins, whom Ron Rivera acknowledged plays his best when he’s lined up closer to the line of scrimmage.
This position switch was long overdue, but is it actually working?
Did the Washington Football Team make the right call moving Landon Collins to linebacker?
While Collins is still listed as Washington’s starting strong safety on the depth chart, Bobby McCain and Kamren Curl logged a 100% snap share at safety in the Week 6 loss. Collins, meanwhile, lined up primarily as a hybrid linebacker.
It’s fairly simple to pinpoint why Collins is being moved around.
Sure, Jon Bostic’s season-ending injury likely played a role in Rivera’s thought process, but let’s call a spade a spade: Rivera is trying to get the most of the former All-Pro, and he simply isn’t cut out to play any snaps in coverage.
So, what did we learn? Well, Mahomes still torched the secondary for 397 yards and two touchdowns, so Collins is far from the only liability in coverage.
As for Collins, he finished with six tackles (right around his season average) and was a force against the run, as he has been all season. All good, right? Not exactly. Despite Rivera’s best efforts to prevent Collins from being exposed in coverage, he conceded five receptions for a team-high 78 yards, per PFF.
Collins failed to turn around and make a play on the ball on the deep ball to Jody Fortson that preluded Damien Williams’ first quarter touchdown. Travis Kelce also took his lunch money on a handful of occasions.
According to PFF, only three safeties in the NFL have posted lower coverage grades than Collins has this season. Like the Chiefs, teams will continue to isolate him in coverage regardless of whether he’s lined up at safety or linebacker.
It’ll be up to Collins to make that adjustment, as well as Rivera to institute a game plan that prevents him from getting exposed.
Fans might see fewer breakdowns in the secondary with Collins playing almost exclusively as a hybrid linebacker, but lining him up closer to the line of scrimmage doesn’t exactly mean the problem has been solved, either.