If you were wondering how much team success or failure can impact an individual athlete’s reputation, look no further than New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and strong safety Landon Collins.
During the 2016 NFL season, when the Giants went 11-5 and made it to the playoffs, Manning was being talked about as a future Hall of Famer, and he won the NFL’s Man of the Year award. Collins received first team All-Pro honors, and he was heavy in the conversation for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
In 2017, the Giants went 3-13 and finished with the second-worst record in the league. Manning got benched along the way, ending his consecutive-games-started streak at 210. It was also widely rumored that New York would use its No. 2 overall draft pick on the quarterback who would be pegged to replace the allegedly declining Manning. Collins, meanwhile, did make the Pro Bowl but he wasn’t voted All-Pro and he was no longer in the DPOY discussion.
Collins also dropped significantly in the NFL Network’s annual top-100 player rankings. A year ago, Collins was voted the 28th-best player in the league. This time around he was 92nd on the list that is determined by his fellow NFL players. And it’s not like Collins got worse as a player. His team just went from pretty good to really bad.
Collins finished last season with 104 tackles, two interceptions, six pass breakups, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. He shined brightest in one of New York’s few victories when he made 15 tackles and had a pick in the Giants’ 12-9 overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 11. For that game, he was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week.
Since he entered the league in 2015, Collins has led all defensive backs in tackles with 341.
The Giants are starting over in 2018 with a new head coach (Pat Shurmur). They used that No. 2 pick on running back Saquon Barkley, who many draft experts believe is the best overall player in this rookie class. The team used a second-round pick on guard Will Hernandez, a first-round talent who can help upgrade the offensive line. Star wide receiver Odell Beckham is back after missing most of last season with injuries.
New York also traded in the offseason for All-Pro linebacker Alec Ogletree. But the leader and lynchpin of the Giants defense remains Collins. Don’t let his slide down the top-100 list fool you; he’s still arguably the best in the game at his position.