There is not a single football player in the NFL that is better than Landon Collins. Not even All-Pro linebacker/defensive end Khalil Mack is better. Collins has taken the NFL by storm in his second season. After a forgettable rookie season (to his credit, he did play out of position the entire year), he has truly left his mark. His season statistics are 125 tackles, four sacks, five interceptions, 13 passes defended, one fumble recovery, and one touchdown. To demonstrate just how well he has played, there has never been an NFL player in the history of the game to have 100+ solo tackles, two+ sacks, five+ interceptions, and 12+ pass defended (via. Pro Football Reference).
Landon Collins: Defensive Player of the Year
With J.J. Watt out for the season, it looks like the race for defensive player of the year is really between Khalil Mack, Von Miller, Vic Beasley and Landon Collins. Collins is the only player from the secondary that has a legitimate chance at winning this award. Everyone else is a pass rusher, since many analysts believe sacks are the more important statistic. Vic Beasley is a sack machine. This season, he had 15.5 sacks and six forced fumbles. Outside of that, he only has 39 tackles and two pass defended. Von Miller has 13.5 sacks, 78 tackles, three forced fumbles and three passes defended. Khalil Mack has 73 tackles, 11 sacks, five forced fumbles and three passes defended.The recurring theme of all these players is that they have a lot of sacks. Outside of the sacks, none of these players are as valuable as Collins has shown through their season statistics.
Collins has transformed into a hybrid safety role, where he has the freedom to come to the line of scrimmage or drop back in coverage. Collins also has five run stuffs (runs stopped at or before the line of scrimmage), while Beasley and Miller have four. Only Mack has more with nine total. This shows that although his primary goal as a defensive back is to make stops though the air, he is just as valuable on the ground by contributing to run defense, making him just as valuable if not more than these pass rushers.
In the past 16 years, only three defensive backs have won this award. Of these three, none of them had more tackles, more sacks, or more pass breakups. The names of these safeties are Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu, and Bob Sanders. All of them were among the top safeties over the past decade. They were also all on winning teams, a lot of it because of how good they were. As good as these players were, two of whom are potential Hall of Famers, Landon Collins is having a better season than any of these three. Sanders leads the group with 96 tackles and 3.5 sacks, Troy Polamalu leads them with 11 passes defended, and Ed Reed leads them with nine interceptions. If you combine all three players statistics, using their best for each category, only Ed Reed’s interceptions are more than Landon Collins this season.
Winning Means Everything
Landon Collins is the key component of a winning defense. Khalil Mack is on an average at best defense. While this could make Mack’s numbers look that much more impressive, it works the same way for Collins. On a defense full of Pro Bowlers, Collins is the man who stands out. He is the gel that allows for other players to play at the level in which they are currently at. Collins is a ball hawk. Wherever the ball is, number 21 is right there as well. Whether he is blitzing and disrupting the quarterback, or blowing up a potential big run, he is always involved.
Unlike the three potential winners named above, he is strong in coverage. This is exemplified by how well he plays against the opposing team’s tight ends. Landon Collins means more to this Giants defense than anyone does to their respective defense in the NFL. It would be a shame to see such a talented player on record pace miss out on one of the most prestigious individual awards a defender could win.