Collins and Hightower: Seeking Huge Contracts But Not Delivering Huge Plays

Collins Hightower:  Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins are both heading into the pending offseason seeking huge contracts that place them in the upper echelon of annual salaries for defensive players in the NFL.   Both are up and coming linebackers that presumably offer teams a chance to “ride them during their peak years”.

In addition to battling injuries this season (yet again for Hightower mind you), Dont’a Hightower has recorded 9 combined tackles, 2 assists, no sacks, no picks, and zero forced fumbles.

After a sluggish start (that pick against Miami was a gift Tannehill literally threw it right at him), Jamie Collins exploded against Houston and his stats for the year are good but not great.  He has 29 combined tackles, one sack, and two interceptions.

Collins Hightower

(Foxborough, MA, 09/30/15) Patriot's Linebackers #91 Jamie Collins and #54 Dont'a Hightower go through a drill during Patriots at Gillette. Wednesday, September 30, 2015. Staff photo by John Wilcox.

At the risk of sounding too harsh on Hightower and Collins they both appear to be still in that category where they are teasing coaches, teammates, and fans with greatness rather than already delivering greatness. Both have a history of nagging to moderate level injuries as well so it certainly will be interesting to see what the New England Patriots do with the contract situations of these two young linebackers.   There is still a lot of football left in 2016 and with their talent Collins and Hightower can still certainly deliver monster performances. 

Regarding the Patriots, a few notes:

  • What’s up with Rob Gronkowski? He seems somewhat limited and more notably ignored in the game planning.  Is something going on behind the scenes? Is he not ready and more of a decoy currently?
  • Steven Gostkowski missed another very hittable FG on 10/2 versus the Bills. There appears to be a concerning trend here well in motion at this point.  Last season in the regular season some kinks showed up and then he missed an extra point against Denver in the AFC Championship.  In the pre-season he was a bit shaky and that has continued. 
  • How good are the Patriots? They won a game that they should have lost in the opener, gave up an enormous lead to Miami at home, beat a hapless and listless Houston on a short week in a Thursday night yawner, and then got embarrassed by Buffalo. This team still has a whole bunch to prove and clearly looks inferior to Denver and Pittsburgh at this time.



Here is a prior piece we did on Jamie Collins:

Jamie Collins Takes Shot at Defensive POY for the New England Patriots

As a fan watching the New England Patriots games it just feels like Jamie Collins is on the cusp of breaking out in a very big way. Ok, maybe saying it “feels like” a player is heading in a certain direction isn’t the most sophisticated for of analysis, but the athleticism and playmaking displayed by Collins well . . . . . . makes it feel like he is heading to stardom.

Coming off a Pro Bowl selection in 2015 the first priority for Collins will be to remain healthy. Collins played just 12 games in 2015 in the regular season and frankly the raw, mainstream stats are good but not phenomenal. Collins registered 89 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 6 passes defensed, 1 interception, and 5 forced fumbles, but his impact on the game goes way beyond the raw statistics most fans understand.  His ability to cover receivers, rush the passer, and slam down ball carriers all within the same series or set of downs makes him a standout on the defense for the New England Patriots and capable of more than most linebackers in the NFL. 

Jamie Collins fits in very nice with other young, emerging defensive starts for the New England Patriots such as Hightower and Malcolm Butler. In fact, the Patriots traded Chandler Jones in part to try and ensure they have the cap room to sign all of these defensive contributors. 

Jamie Collins is a 26 year old OLB entering his fourth season and importantly playing with essentially the same coaching staff. If he can stays healthy could he register 10+ sacks, 3+ picks, and 7+ forced fumbles? He has the ability to do so and staying healthy will be the key.  Tune in to find out if Jamie Collins can make a run at Defensive Player of the Year and help the New England Patriots get back to the Super Bowl.

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Here is a piece we published on the explosive offense of the Pittsburgh Steelers which seems to be functioning quite well this season aside from the game against the Eagles. The Steelers also got back L’Eveon Bell this past week and he sure did make an impact.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Record Setting Offense in 2016?

Pittsburgh Steelers Offense: The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off an explosive and exciting 2015 season that ended with a tough to swallow playoff loss.  In 2015 the Steelers ranked fourth in the NFL in points scored and third in the NFL in passing yards. Although Martavis Bryant is out for all of 2016 due to a suspension, anticipation is extremely high for the offense in Pittsburgh in 2016.  Can this Pittsburgh Steelers team approach any NFL records on offense this year?

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One factor that may help the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger put up huge statistics this season is the Pittsburgh Steelers defense.  The Steelers defense ranked 12th in the NFL in 2015 in yards allowed thus presenting Big Ben with multiple opportunities to play from behind and get involved in a shootout.  Unless the offseason changes and additions created very drastic changes this is unlikely to change all that much in 2016.

Although star running back Le’Veon Bell will miss the first few games for a suspension that may actually help this Steelers offense over the course of the entire season. Bell could return extra fresh and healthy and stay very productive throughout the remainder of the season.  Steelers fans know Maurkice Pouncey is always a question mark at Center, but his return to start the season gives the offensive line even more strength heading into the season.

So, what happens to the gap left by the suspended Bryant? The Steelers seem to have a knack for developing receivers under the radar and this season they will give plenty of looks to Markus Wheaton and Sammie Coates. Antonio Brown will do his thing and likely have an exceptional season piling up stats so it will be up to the other receivers and TEs to pick up some slack. 

Although questions remain like with any NFL team, look for the Pittsburgh Steelers to improve upon their great offensive production in 2015 with a banner year in 2016.


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