And now more news drops. No Days Off, indeed. It'd be nice if the Patriots would take a short break from making major personnel moves so a fella could catch his breath or go grab lunch or something. But I knew what I signed on for when I enlisted in this service. If I wanted peace and quiet I could've volunteered for Barstool Salt Lake City or something.
Anyway, with this team, nothing happens in a vacuum. One move leads to another. The first report about Jamie Collins coming back to Foxboro for a third tour of duty since he got released by Detroit and heated up yesterday when Field Yates reported they were working on a deal. Then they traded Stephon Gilmore, freeing up cap space in an amount just shy of $5.8 million:
... for the purpose of hopefully hanging onto JC Jackson long term, but also adding veteran help in Jamie Collins. Which is great. We can us all the linebacker help we can get. Frankly that unit has underperformed so far. Dont'a Hightower has looked like the year off has set him back some. He's seems slower and hasn't been able to get into the backfield with any sort of consistency the way pre-opt out Hightower did. Ju'Whaun Bentley has been their most reliable off-the-ball LB, but he didn't dress Sunday against Tampa, either due to injury or for game planning reasons, neither of which would be good. And so being able to add a plug-and-play veteran who knows all the calls and can be an asset from Game 1 is a pure good, right?
I can't believe this is me saying it, but my answer is ... not necessarily.
Look, there's no question Collins plays his best ball in this system. The analytics bear out what your eyeballs tell you about that:
And so this would seem like a no-brainer. Addition by addition. But to me it's not that simple.
My problem with Collins is not that he's not freakishly athletic or that he's not a good guy and teammate. He's all those things. Let us not forget that when Tom Brady was walking around with a puss on his face, having already made up his mind he was giving his two-months notice and trying to see how many office supplies he could take with him between now and the time he walked out the door, Collins was playing his ass off. And giving his defense a nickname that almost stuck:
My issue Collins is his consistency. There was a reason they shipped him to Cleveland midway through his fourth season. And then let him walk after 2019. And I think it's that the coaches can't know with any degree of certainty what they're going to get from him from week to week.
If we can get September-October 2019 Collins, I'd give up practically anything. But if we're getting November-January Collins, I'd pick him up just to put him on the Bills. Here are the numbers from his last stop in New England:
1st half of 2019:
Tackles: 35, Tackles for loss: 7, QB Hits: 8, Sacks: 6.0, Interceptions: 3, Passes defensed: 4, Defensive TDs: 1, Forced fumbles: 2, Recovered: 1
2nd half of 2019:
Tackles: 22, Tackles for loss: 3, QB Hits: 2, Sacks: 1.0, Interceptions: 0, Passes defensed: 3, Defensive TDs: 0, Forced fumbles: 1, Recovered: 0
In his first eight games, he had a Pro Football Focus grade over 90 in four of them. In the next eight, his highest grade was 75.7, his only grade in the 70s. And while there were a lot of factors and by no means was it all on Collins, but it's not a coincidence that an 8-0 team went 4-5 the rest of the way, including a playoff one-and-done.
The overall point being that Jamie Collins is like a box of chocolates. But then again, if there's a team capable of finding the good ones with the nougat and the caramel and not the shitty ones with the hazelnut or that weirdo pink cream, it's the Patriots. So if he can come here and be a reasonable simulation of the early 2019 Boogeyman, when he was all over the place making impact plays, I'm all for it. If he's going to be the Invisible Man that he was after that epic 13 tackle, 1.5 sack, 2 QB hits performance he had against Cleveland in Week 8, I'll be happy to pass and just give those reps to one of the younger guys like Anfernee Jennings or Ronnie Perkins.
Sorry if I sound weirdly cynical about this rather simple personnel move. It's just that after the first two times you've seen your team let a guy go, you start to notice a pattern develop. I just hope he proves me wrong.