Jamie Collins is a month into his seventh NFL season. He's at the point now, in his second go-round with his second team, that he's considered a veteran leader. He called the defensive signals for the Patriots on Sunday in Buffalo with Dont'a Hightower out with a shoulder injury.
There's some wisdom in Collins' game at this point. Some savvy. But as we saw over the weekend, even though he's gotten older, he's still explosive as hell.
Just before the end of the first half against the Bills, Buffalo kicker Stephen Haushka lined up a kick to give coach Sean McDermott and his club a lift going into their locker room. As he did, Collins got down into a three-point stance just to the right of the Buffalo long-snapper as part of the Patriots rush unit.
We knew Jamie Collins was crazy explosive well before he was drafted. Set a combine record in the broad jump.— Phil Perry (@PhilAPerry) September 30, 2019
Clearly...it translates. Can’t run and jump over the line on kicks anymore—something Collins has done before. But no penalty if you leapfrog from a stationary position. pic.twitter.com/gnkvpI6c2g
We've seen Collins take his place at the second level during opponent field goals in the past, where he's timed it up perfectly, running and jumping over the line to attempt a block. But that action is now illegal, as it's been deemed an especially dangerous position for players to throw themselves into.
What Collins did on Sunday was attempt the same leap over the line . . . but from a three-point stance instead of a running start. Players who are stationary at the line of scrimmage are still allowed to jump. It's just that they rarely -- if ever -- try to jump over the blockers in front of them and into the backfield; it is still a penalty to jump from a stationary stance and land on a lineman.
Collins, 29, is still one of the few athletes his size who could pull off a leapfrog over the line and not worry all that much about picking up a flag.
The 6-foot-3, 255-pound linebacker leapt from his crouched position, lifted his knees to his chest, got over the line and then sprung back up into the air to try to block Haushka's kick. He didn't get a piece of it, but the kick went wide.
McDermott argued at the time that the jump should've been a penalty, but it was legal because of where Collins started, and the officials were right to let it go.
"Well, he’s a great athlete," Bill Belichick said Monday on WEEI's Ordway, Merloni and Sauria show when asked about the play. “I think we all know that. There’s not too much he can’t do athletically. He was pretty close to blocking the (previous) field goal coming off the edge on the outside.
"He’s a very explosive player. He’s got a great lower body, very explosive, through contact and through space. He can jump, too, as well as being long and fast and having a lot of power."
In a game like that one, even three points made a difference. While Collins didn't block the kick, he might've thrown off the kicking operation just enough to encourage a miss. And without his athleticism at Belichick's disposal, that kind of jump-the-line move probably wouldn't have been a consideration.
The play was just another reason that Collins came away from the game as one of the most valuable players on the field -- something that's becoming a weekly occurrence in 2019.
“He played another outstanding game for us, both on defense and in the kicking game," Belichick said. "He was really close on that. If that ball hadn’t missed to the right, if it had been straight, he might have had it."
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