By: Kenny Doyle
Jamie Collins. Once thought to be a staple of the Patriots defense for years to come and now he’s in the NFL hell that is Cleveland. No one knows exactly why the Patriots parted ways with Jamie Collins. Was he a locker room problem? Was he free lancing too much on the field? Did the Patriots just not think he was worth the money he was going to demand on the open market? All 3 have been speculated, but we never heard the real answer from Belichick himself… and we never will.
This season, the Patriots linebackers have been awful. The Patriots are relying on Elandon Roberts, Kyle Van Noy, and Cassius Marsh to be the center of their defense with Hightower dealing with injury. It’s gotten so bad, Pats fans are waiting on pins and needles for Shea McClellin to comeback from injury to save the Patriots defense. The issues at linebacker are glaring. The front 7 is allowing 5 yards per carry right now, which is tied for the 3rd worst number in the league. That is not what you expect from a defense coached by Bill Belichick. The Patriots are usually great at setting the edge against the run, but opposing offensive lines are pushing them around at will. It’s not Belichick’s fault though, the Patriots linebacking core is devoid of one key thing right now: talent.
There is no denying Jamie Collins talent as a football player and all around athlete. Ask around New England a year ago at this time “Who’s better: Jamie Collins or Dont’a Hightower?” and it would be close. Collins may even win. We can’t say what it was, but there was something that Belichick didn’t like about Collins. After all, you really have to hate someone to ship them off to play out their career as a Cleveland Brown. Either that or be scared to trade them to a contender.When the Patriots traded Collins to Cleveland and all they got back for him was a 3rd round pick, it was stunning. A 3rd round pick for an All-Pro linebacker? How is that all the Patriots could get in return for Jamie Collins? Another question we don’t have the answer to. But now, looking back and knowing what we know now, should the Patriots regret giving away the talented young linebacker?
It’s so easy to say no. The Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl without Collins. The defense ended up being the #1 scoring defense in the entire NFL and it seemed like trading Jamie Collins may have even them better. But, do you really think the Patriots would have lost the Super Bowl if Jamie Collins was on the team? It seems farfetched. Even if Collins was prone to the freelancing mistake, he wasn’t on the field in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl when Elandon Roberts completely blew his coverage and left Devonta Freeman wide open for a 39 yard catch and run. It’s not as if the Patriots linebackers were perfect once Jamie Collins left. On top of that, the Patriots had already won a Super Bowl with Collins starting at linebacker. So why couldn’t they have won another with him?
The real reason the Patriots may regret giving up Collins is what their defense has turned into. The Patriots defense has been one of the worst in the NFL this season, if not the worst, and a talent like Collins could have really helped them in these first 5 weeks. The Patriots are scrambling to find something that works in the front 7, so is it possible that trading Jamie Collins was a mistake?
If the Patriots defense can bounce back and figure it out in the second half of the season then the answer will be no. But right now, it feels like Jamie Collins could really help the Patriots weak linebacking core. They may have won the Super Bowl without Collins last year, but his absence could keep them from winning another one this season.