Secret Superstars 2014: Patriots

Some Secret Superstars have to scratch and claw their way into playing time... exactly what the Patriots' Jamie Collins did in 2013.

| 3 years ago

Secret Superstars 2014: Patriots

2014-SS-collinsAs we continue our Secret Superstar series, we arrive at the New England Patriots who have been working for years to replace the linebacking set of Willie McGinest, Tedy Bruschi and Roman Phifer. In the 2013 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots traded their first round pick to Minnesota. They received four picks in return, including the 52nd overall pick in the second round, which became Jamie Collins.

Collins was a truly versatile athlete, playing QB in high school, then safety and defensive end/linebacker in college. A tall player with long, lanky arms, Collins produced on a terrible Southern Miss team, especially as a pass rusher.

Collins was coming into an already crowded Patriots LB group with three high round draft picks (Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower, and Brandon Spikes) so he would have to wait for a starting opportunity. He would begin 2013 playing mostly on special teams.

First Half of the Season

Collins made his NFL debut in the first game in Buffalo, but only played two snaps. In the second quarter he was on the field for consecutive plays, being on the opposite side of the field for a run and then jamming one tight end at the line before blitzing against another who managed to navigate him away from the QB. He played another four uneventful snaps in the next game vs. the Jets (three consecutive plays in the second quarter and one in the fourth) before he showed up on the stat sheet in the following game vs. the Buccaneers. Playing 18 snaps in the blowout win, he recorded his first career stop against guard Carl Nicks. Collins met a pulling Nicks in the backfield, absorbed his block, shed him, and then made the stop on Doug Martin.

He was tested during his 12 snaps the following week on Sunday Night Football against the Falcons. He conceded both passes thrown into his coverage for two first downs and 23 yards, while being partially responsible for another first down catch with underneath coverage. He would only play 16 snaps over the next two weeks before another notable performance on 15 snaps in a rematch against the Jets. The Patriots lost the game in OT, but Collins made two stops and generated three hurries on six blitzes, the most impressive involving him putting center Nick Mangold on the ground (11:12 in the first quarter).

Second Half of Season

Jamie began the second half with a ‘red’ overall graded performance against the Dolphins, earning negative grades in run defense and coverage. He would only play four snaps in the following two games before the memorable Sunday Night comeback at home vs. the Broncos. Although he only played 23 of 90 snaps, he started and shined. He made an impact beginning on the games’ first series, limiting a tight end to a three yard catch on 2nd-and-10 and then assisting Hightower in keeping Wes Welker short of the conversion on a third down catch.

He would make six tackles on the night, including a possible TD saving one 31 yards downfield on a screen pass he wasn’t responsible for. He also conceded two catches for first downs, but made arguably one of the most important plays of the game: on the Broncos’ last offensive snap of the game in OT, 3rd-and-8, he was in coverage on Welker, bumped him and then instantly knocked the ball out of his hands when the pass arrived.

Collins continued to produce in the second half of the regular season, only receiving one negative overall grade in the Miami rematch and even then just barely (-0.2 overall). His best overall grade to date would come in the week 16 game in Baltimore, allowing only three of six passes to be completed in his coverage while defending two (although one, in garbage time, also counts as a dropped interception). He would end the season vs. Buffalo by showing some of the pass rushing skills he’d flashed earlier in the season and in college with two QB knockdowns on just four blitzes.


Collins would end up playing all but three of 142 snaps in the Patriots two playoff games, and made an unforgettable impression in the home divisional win over the Colts. Collins wrecked havoc on Indianapolis’ offense in every way possible. Some stout run defense (6:18 left in the third quarter is a good example of his fantastic efforts), punishing pass rush (a sack, two hits and a hurry on just nine blitzes), and solid coverage.

His work in the last area was especially notable, allowing only two catches on five targets while displaying close coverage on two third down incompletions. One was a third-and-goal where he was split out wide in press coverage and he earned his first career interception on the other target.

The following week in Denver, the Patriots season came to an end, but Collins once again contributed. He did miss a tackle (his third of the year) and was responsible for two first downs and 51 receiving yards to tight end Julius Thomas, but managed to defend a pass to Montee Ball, record six tackles including three stops in run defense, and beat an offensive lineman for a pressure. It will be interesting to see what a full season of starting playing time with due for Collins’ game, but he certainly won’t be a secret anymore.


Follow Trey on Twitter

  • Thomas Holm

    A little disappointed you didnt go with Sealver Siliga.

    • Chris from the Cape

      As a Pats fan I suffered through the horrible interior rush D of Jones (okay) and Velano (no business being on field during 1st + 2nd downs), and acknowledge that Siliga played an important role in #75’s absence. To put the words ‘Siliga’ and ‘Superstar’ in the same sentence however…

      • Thomas Holm

        Then you’re obviously not familiar with the Secret Superstars series. Secret Superstars is just a catchy title. They are not picking legit superstars in this series. Attaching the word “superstar” to Jamie Collins would be insane as well, but thats not the point. We are talking about lesser known players like Cole Beasley, John Hughes and Alan Ball just to name a few. Go back and read their reviews for their 2011-13 secret superstars and you will discover the point of the series.

        Jamie Collins is just a way too “safe” pick for my liking. Siliga did some really impressive work against the run and in my opinion, is the exact type of player this series should highlight.

        • Chris from the Cape

          Ask Andrew Luck how insane it was as he nearly single handedly ended their season in January they felt was predestined after the Chiefs comeback.
          Siliga was a huge as he filled a crucial need, but didn’t even separate himself from Logan Ryan, who was so ‘secret’ that the Ravens Play by play guy didn’t get his name right until his 2nd or 3rd pick of Joe Flacco.

          • Thomas Holm

            While his game against the Colts was impressive, it was just ONE game out of 18. Same thing with Logan Ryan (who got destroyed by Denver). ONE good game against QBs known for being reckless with the football doesnt make them a “secret superstar”. Siliga consistenly played very well. +9,5 in 151 run snaps is eye popping.

            As i have stated multiple times, it’s simply my opinion that Siliga deserved the spotlight more than Collins. Steve Palazzolo already wrote about Collins in depth in his rookie focus series.

          • Chris from the Cape

            I know what you’re saying about the rookie focus rehash: I think they even used the same picture from that article-
            In any case: this is such a great site: I don’t know where else I can go to talk about DT depth: on the local sports radio they’re too busy talking about Jerry Remy, let alone actual sports, let alone the upcoming NFL season-

          • Thomas Holm


  • Hola Backgrinder

    Nit picking but Willie McGinnest was a DE, Mike Vrabel was the other LB on the first 2 Superbowl teams with Phifer and Bruschi. When they switched to the 3-4 the LB’s were Vrabel and McGinest on the outside with Ted Johnson and Tedy Bruschi inside.

    • Chris from the Cape

      The Pats were a base 3-4 team though, right up until the past few years. In any case the mention brings back warm memories of Marshall Faulk whining to the press that McGinnest was too rough with him in the backfield as he attempted to position himself for screen passes in that Super Bowl.

  • Josh Coryell

    I very much enjoy PFF, but picking Collins as a breakout player, especially after that playoff game, is kind of weak. I would have gone with Siliga, Dobson, or Ryan.