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Landon Collins is thrilled to be with the Redskins and can't wait to get revenge on the Giants

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NBC Sports Washington

Landon Collins is thrilled to be with the Redskins and can't wait to get revenge on the Giants

You may not know the exact dates of the Redskins' two matchups with the Giants this season, which will take place Sep. 29 and Dec. 22 in 2019. But Landon Collins sure does.

"I'm gonna circle it for the next six years," the 'Skins new safety told ESPN in a recent interview. 

No, Collins isn't circling those dates from now until 2024 because he wants to be very organized and ensure he doesn't have any scheduling conflicts. He's doing it because he's dying to get revenge on his former team, who let him leave as a free agent in part because of their "culture change," according to him.

"All we wanted to do was win, and we spoke up because we had to get them to listen to us," Collins told ESPN, referring to himself and other now ex-Giants like Odell Beckham and Damon Harrison. "I think we were too vocal, and that platform was bigger than the Giants... If it's not good media, they don't want that kind of media."

In addition to the organization wanting to go in a different direction culture-wise, New York didn't want to pay the amount of money the Redskins ended up paying for Collins because he wasn't an ideal fit in their defense. The 25-year-old pushes back against the idea that he's strictly a "box safety," though, as do current and former players.

Interestingly enough, Collins isn't the only member of the Redskins' secondary who's in D.C. thanks to a decision by Dave Gettleman. Gettleman was also the same guy who decided the Panthers needed to move on from Josh Norman in April 2016.

Collins, for one, doesn't sound like he'll miss Gettleman at all. The defender didn't love how the GM consistently failed to make an effort to connect personally with his players. 

"I don't know him, he don't know me, that's kind of how it just kind of was," he explained.

All that, however, doesn't matter anymore. Collins is going to be the foundation of the Redskins' defense for quite some time, and that's a challenge he's ready to accept.

"I'm on a team that loves me and wanted me here," he said.

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How Nate Kaczor expects to use Antonio Gibson's varied skill set on special teams

How Nate Kaczor expects to use Antonio Gibson's varied skill set on special teams

Just moments after the Redskins drafted Antonio Gibson in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the running back/wide receiver hybrid was asked what position he plans to play in the NFL.

Gibson's answer was simple: "I view myself as a weapon."

The 21-year-old is officially listed as a running back, and the No. 24 jersey that he will wear backs that up. But Gibson plans to contribute in a lot more ways than just as a rusher, and his versatility and experience on special teams is Nate Kaczor is excited about.

Kaczor, Washington's special teams coordinator, believes that the combination of Gibson's size and speed will allow him to make an impact for the Redskins specials unit in a variety of ways. 

"He's big and fast," Kaczor told the local media in a Zoom call on Tuesday. "He [is] 220-ish pounds, some people had him in the low 4.4's, high 4.3 area. Regardless of what time he's prescribed to, he's fast. He's not only a returner; he can bring some protection and speed and coverage."

A year ago, the Redskins found a gem in undrafted wide receiver Steven Sims. The Kansas product became Washington's starting slot receiver by the end of the season, but Sims first made an impact as an NFL player on special teams.

Kaczor believes the combination of Gibson and Sims gives the Redskins a lot of flexibility in the return game.

"In an ideal setting, if you have a legitimate returner [Sims] and your off-returner [Gibson], who is 30 pounds bigger than your returner, if he doesn't get the ball he becomes a blocker," Kaczor said. "And he weighs 220 [pounds]. That's a really good situation. If they don't really want to kick it to one guy and they want to kick it to your other one and he's really good, then you have a heck of a situation there."

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The special teams coach emphasized that Gibson has the skill set to make an impact in other ways on special teams, too, even if he's not the primary returner for the Burgundy and Gold.

"He could be on the punt team and play a slot, which is very conducive to running backs skill sets, where the block rushes and then release and help contain," Kaczor said. "Quite often on the punt team in the NFL, you will see a starter or two on offense or defense being used. He's more versatile because he is a returner, he is big enough to play in the return game as a blocker, as an off-returner."

As a senior at Memphis in 2019, Gibson was the team's primary returner, and the third-round pick was a home run threat every time he touched the ball. He notched 23 total returns on the season, averaging close to 29 yards per attempt and even took one kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown.

That kickoff return touchdown came in an upset victory over then-ranked No. 15 SMU last October. That game was truly a coming-out party for Gibson, who finished with 386 all-purpose yards on 12 total touches. In addition to scoring a touchdown via kick return, Gibson found the end zone twice more in two different ways: a 50-yard TD reception and a 78-yard TD run.

Florida State head coach Mike Norvell, who was Gibson's coach at Memphis at the time, told the Redskins Talk podcast that Gibson's outing that evening "was probably the finest performance I’ve ever been a part of from a single game."

Kaczor is excited to get to work with Gibson in the near future, but knows that the running back's value could be best displayed in other ways.

A year ago, Washington drafted Terry McLaurin in the third round, who at the time was known just as much for being a special teams ace as he was a wide receiver. Well, it didn't take long for Kaczor to realize that McLaurin could be an excellent wideout at the NFL level, and that the then-rookie was too valuable as a pass-catcher to be used on special teams.

“Well geez, the more [Offensive Coordinator Scott Turner] uses [Gibson], the less we can," Kaczor joked.

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Redskins special teams coach Nate Kaczor has a hilarious Terry McLaurin story

Redskins special teams coach Nate Kaczor has a hilarious Terry McLaurin story

When the Redskins drafted Terry McLaurin in last year's third round, the expecation was that they'd use his elite skills on special teams — analysts raved about what he did in that area for Ohio State — while slowly working him in on offense.

Naturally, that thought delighted Washington's special teams coach Nate Kaczor. Who wouldn't love a blazing fast and unselfish guy on their unit to help down punts and drop returners?

Unfortunately, Kaczor never really got his hands on McLaurin, thanks to how quickly the rookie blossomed at wideout. And during a Tuesday Zoom call with reporters, the top assistant gave a spot-on analogy for how he felt about the situation.

"That would be like getting a Christmas present and just when you opened it, your brother snatches it from you and you never get it back," he said.

Kaczor explained that right when he saw McLaurin haul in a 70-yard touchdown in the team's opener against the Eagles, he understood where McLaurin's future would be — and it wasn't as a gunner or a tackler.

"It was humorous how fast that happened," Kaczor said. "Right off the bat."

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It wasn't a shock to see Kaczor act so good-natured about the whole scenario (he's the kind of person who'd get a flat tire from a loose nail on the road and check to see if the nail was OK). To him, meanwhile, it wasn't a shock to see McLaurin flourish.

"Obviously with Terry, his makeup just as a football player, his character, his effort, intelligence, speed, the fact that that happened doesn't surprise anybody," Kaczor said. "So I was really happy for our football team and I was really happy for Terry."

In the end, according to Kaczor, that kind of outcome is exactly what he's looking for with all of the pros he oversees.

"What I tell our players is that special teams is a great way to start your career and extend your career if you're not starting," he said. "Ultimately, I want all these guys to become starters on offense or defense and play a long time."

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