The Green Bay Packers Never Recovered After Losing Nick Collins

With the 51st pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers drafted Nick Collins. Collins played his college ball at Bethune-Cookman and was a relatively unknown product. Many scouts and analysts had him going a little bit later in the draft, but Packers general manager Ted Thompson saw something many others did not, a true play-maker. Collins immediately displayed his talent and leadership and found himself starting at free safety as a rookie.

The Green Bay Packers Never Recovered After Losing Nick Collins

Throughout his career, Collins always had a knack for the big play. In the Packers Super Bowl victory, the three time Pro-Bowler made a game changing play when he intercepted Ben Roethlisberger and took it for a touchdown. Collins, along with Charles Woodson, truly gave the Packers a secondary to be feared.

On September 18th, 2011, Collins would put on his Packers uniform for the last time. In the 4th quarter, Collins went to tackle Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart, who leaped and grazed the top of Collin’s helmet. The impact caused Collins to suffer and herniated disc and miss the remainder of the 2011 season. Collins underwent successful fusion surgery, but the Packers deemed his situation too risky and decided to release him on April 25th, 2012. Collins would eventually retire from the NFL in 2014 due to injury. Collins career stats for eye popping for only playing for six years.

95 games
340 tackles
21 interceptions
5 defensive touchdowns
6 forced fumbles
1 sack

In 2010, with Collins, the Packers defense was dominant. The team defense ranked fifth in the NFL in yards allowed and held opponents to the second fewest points in the NFL. Quarterbacks averaged a 67.2 passer rating against the unit and threw 24 interceptions.

In 2011, without Collins, things fell apart. The Packers ranked dead last in yards allowed and fell to 19th in points given up. They had seven fewer interceptions and quarterbacks fared much better with a 95.9 rating against the struggling defense. Surprisingly, other than Collins, the 2011 defensive starters had a healthy year. Only Lawrence Guy and Davon House missed a significant amount of time and both did not play significant roles in the defense. Collins was severely missed as a leader and play-maker, and the Packers defense would never recover from his absence.

In the next few years, the Packers would have a dominant offense, but the defense was always the Achilles heal for the team. On most occasions, Aaron Rodgers and the offense would simply outscore the other team, but the defense always came up short in the playoffs. With a healthy Nick Collins, the Packers would have had a better shot at getting at least another Super Bowl Title.

The Packers finally addressed the void Collins left when they drafted Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix in 2014. Clinton-Dix has been compared to Collins on multiple occasions for his play-making ability and leadership from the safety role. With Dix in the role of Nick Collins, there is hope for another dominant Packers defense. But improvement from last year will be necessary if the team is to take the next step which is to make the Super Bowl.


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