The initial meeting between Landon Collins and Jack Del Rio apparently started with the coach praising his key safety in a major way.
"When I first walked into his office, he said, 'Bro, I love your mentality, you remind me so much of Ray Lewis, with the mentality of being a leader, making plays, doing what we need to do and having these guys going the right direction,'" Collins told NBC Sports Washington.
But that comparison isn't actually the part of the conversation that has Collins already buying into his new defensive coordinator.
"He said, 'Now, there are some things I need you to change up in your game,'" Collins explained. "And I was like, 'All right, cool, yeah.' And that's what I love about him: He was straightforward with me. Don't beat around the bush... My best seasons came when I heard that from my coaches."
After being a part of one of the NFL's worst defenses and lining up in a scheme that some felt was too complex, Collins sounds rejuvenated. That's good news for him, Redskins fans and, obviously, Del Rio.
A lot of Del Rio's success will hinge on how he gets along with and employs the skilled Collins, and it seems like the two are off to a promising start.
Yet Collins isn't just eager to see how Del Rio's presence will benefit him.
"I like his defense," Collins said. "It's a 4-3 concept. That's what I think we needed from the get-go with these guys. We have great run stoppers, but these guys want to get upfield and make plays themselves, and stop holding people for the linebackers."
"That's going to help our back end," he continued. "It's going to clear things up for us concept-wise, gap reading-wise and playing sound defense."
Between Del Rio and new head coach Ron Rivera, Washington now has a pair of defensive-minded leaders at the top of the team's staff. The hope is that those two can better employ the likes of Collins, Jonathan Allen, Montez Sweat and others and make the unit produce the way many think it's capable of.
It's a group that already has the heart, too, according to Collins.
"That's one thing I told coach Del Rio: 'These guys aren't going to give up on you,'" he recalled. "I say, 'I've been a part of a team that's like forget this, their season's over with after six games.' These guys finished all 16."
And as Collins turned the focus from his teammates back to his personal future, he reiterated why he appreciated Del Rio's early honesty so much.
"I'm going to get the praise from the media, the guys and the fans," Collins said. "I don't need that. I need to know what are the bad parts in my game that I need to tweak, I need to fix, I need to brush up on so I can be the best player that I want to be, and be in the categories of the Sean Taylors, the Ed Reeds and the Brian Dawkins's."
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