Can the Patriots win a championship without Jerod Mayo? Film review of Jamie Collins big day

All-Pro linebacker Jerod Mayo was lost for the season back in a week 6 win over the New Orleans Saints.

It was one of many major injuries to come and a lot of Pats fans started thinking it could be the nail in the coffin for a lost season.

Yet, here we are. One great quarterback was sent packing home, and the Patriots are in the AFC Championship facing another. How the hell did they do it?

Well, obviously, when you lose your starters the backups have to play well.

Rookie linebacker Jamie Collins did his part to fill the void against Indy Saturday night, completely filling the stat sheet with six total tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss, three QB hits and an interception. With Brandon Spikes hitting IR, Collins played all 66 snaps.

Prettay Pretttay good.

How about going a little deeper though?

Check out this little show of strength by Collins. In this play, he gets cut by Colts guard Hugh Thornton trying to get to the outside to stop a Trent Richardson run to that side. Somehow, Collins is able to tackle Richardson with one arm while falling to the ground.

Obviously, Trent Richardson contributes to this play as well. Stopping briefly for no apparent reason, giving Collins the split second to get there. But even so, a one armed tackle while on the ground? Hard not to be impressed.

Count former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi as someone who was.

In his weekly Patriots chat, Bruschi talked about exactly why Collins is all of a sudden breaking out. In short, he's starting to get it.

I don't think it was an anomaly. I think Collins just has a full season of coaching under his belt. Sometimes it takes young players a little while to understand what's asked of him in a Bill Belichick-coached defense. Matt Patricia, the defensive coordinator, has had a full season to figure out what Collins does best. The fact that Collins broke out and made some huge plays in a big game is a good sign that he's starting to understand what is asked of him and turning that into playing "free" football. What I mean by "free" football is this: Once you understand what you're doing out there, and you're not thinking, your instincts and play-making ability kicks in.

Collins' strength was on display again on this next play, his sack of Andrew Luck. Again, Collins makes something out of nothing. Colts runningback Donald Brown slides in with perfect protection, and gets low to cut the rookie linebacker.

In an impressive display of athleticism, Collins barrels over Brown and straight into Andrew Luck. One of three sacks the Patriots had on luck that day.

In addition to his sack and QB hits, Collins added two quarterback hurries to his resume.

Still, Collins didn't just shine in pass rush and against the run. No, when we say he had a complete game, he had a complete game.

Collins also held his own in coverage. On five targets he allowed only two catches (Via NESN) totaling only 12 yards.

Can the rookie keep it up next week against one of the best offensive lines in the league in Denver, and one of the best tight ends this year in Julius Thomas?

Patriots fans sure better hope so. With a defense as depleted as this, Collins is almost all that team has. It's refreshing to see, because the Pats haven't really had a linebacker be that kind of game changer in a long time. They'll need more of that if they are going to win their biggest game of the season this Sunday.


Jamie Collins reminds us all that Belichick can draft