Redskins Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins addressed the local media via videoconference on Wednesday afternoon. Here's what we learned from the discussion:
1. Collins seems to already have a solid relationship with head coach Ron Rivera.
Since entering the NFL in 2015, Collins has had five head coaches and two interim head coaches. His latest is Ron Rivera, and the two already seem to be building a quality relationship.
"He asks me...to always be myself and continue to be the leader that I am and keep doing it the right way," said Collins, who added the two have talked on the phone a few times and communicate much more via text. "That's kind of the gist of how we handle our stuff."
Collins also liked what he heard during Rivera's first full team meeting, which was held Monday. He described it as "very, very, very good" and added that Rivera was "straight to the point" when discussing his vision and expectations in 2020 and beyond.
"Rivera is just a solid coach," Collins said. "He's a guy I know is going to get the job done, and that's why he said what he said in the way he said it."
2. Collins understands the importance of the virtual offseason program.
When asked about what he's been getting out of these Zoom calls, Collins simply responded, "everything."
In Collins' mind, these meetings are basically the same as the ones that would have happened at Redskins Park. They're still installing the new 4-3 defense and figuring out everyone's role.
The only difference is that they are not unable to take what they learn in the classroom and implement it on the field.
Since the Redskins are not allowed to practice due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these virtual conferences are more important than ever. The players must comprehend every tidbit of information, Collins said, because there is no telling when players and coaches will be allowed back into their facilities.
That's why the Redskins have stressed that there are no dumb questions. During Wednesday's meeting, Collins had a few inquiries about a topic he did not fully comprehend. Usually, he would be able to figure it out once he stepped onto the field. But without that luxury, Collins could not picture what the coaches were saying in his head. Instead, they had to talk through the problem until it was completely resolved.
"Regardless of how long it takes, we have to get it down because at the end of the day, once football season starts or once we all start back up, we don't know if we're going straight into football or if we'll have some time before we start," Collins said. "Those questions, those answers, how everything goes within the Zoom meetings, it's fairly the same as if we are in a team meeting room."
3. Collins is excited to play behind the Redskins' defensive line.
Collins knows that a solid pass rush will make his job easier. He will not have to cover as long and can play more aggressive. And since opposing quarterbacks will often throw quickly to avoid sacks, there is less of a chance of getting beat over the top.
That's why he's so excited to play behind the Redskins' defensive front. It has a speed rusher in Montez Sweat and a physical presence in Ryan Kerrigan, and between them are first-rounders Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne, reigning sack leader Matt Ioannidis and up-and-comer Tim Settle. Add in No. 2 overall pick Chase Young, who Collins said is already a "great athlete," and he believes this group can wreak havoc this fall.
"All those guys are going to be able to teach Chase NFL football," Collins said."Having those guys around him to teach him how to attack this, how to read that, how you can play this better in a professional league and getting out of his college form is going to be great."
4. Collins has high hopes for cornerback Jimmy Moreland.
Jimmy Moreland wowed his teammates with a flurry of interceptions during OTAs and continued his strong play during training camp and into the preseason. But once the regular season kicked off, his ball-hawking skills did not result in any interceptions across 14 games.
Still, Collins has high hopes for the 2019 seventh-round pick entering his second NFL season.
"Jimmy was supposed to have seven picks last year; that was just off of athletic ability," Collins said. "He was doing what he was supposed to be doing in the game, but at the end of the day he was all athleticism. I was like, 'Wow, he is going to be special.'"
Collins said Moreland's anticipation skills improved as the season progressed but that he did not trust himself enough to jump certain routes, which could have led to interceptions and even a few pick-sixes. Collins can relate to Moreland because he felt a similar way as a rookie in 2015. There were times when Collins saw a play develop but did not act because he did not want to upset his veteran teammates if his risk failed.
Nowadays, Moreland is more confident in his abilities and knows he has the secondary's support, which should prompt him to play more freely in 2020.
5. Collins believes the defense can have a breakout year.
The Redskins' offseason additions remind Collins of the moves the New York Giants made ahead of their 2016 campaign. After missing the playoffs and finishing last in total defense (420.3 yards allowed per game), the Giants signed three difference-makers: defensive end Olivier Vernon, defensive tackle Damon Harrison and cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
All of the sudden, the Giants were back in the postseason behind a top 10 overall defense (339.7 yards allowed per game) and a top 3 rushing defense (88.6 yards per game). In 12 short months, they went from 6-10 to 11-5.
It remains to be seen how the Redskins' defense performs in 2020, but between free agency and the draft, Collins believes the team brought in enough talent to become one of the better units in the league.
"Having that big pickup with Chase Young and having those two corners brought in along with some solid safety help, I don't see why we don't have that breakout year that we want."