Collins's Steady Play Is Money in the Bank

Backup quarterback Todd Collins is in the final year of a two-year deal and likely will receive a significant raise.
Backup quarterback Todd Collins is in the final year of a two-year deal and likely will receive a significant raise. "I'm sitting here smiling, watching my TV every week," said Collins's agent, Brad Blank. (By Preston Keres -- The Washington Post)
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By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 29, 2007

While meeting with reporters this week at Redskins Park, Washington quarterback Todd Collins was asked about the potential reward he soon could receive in free agency because of his impressive performance since becoming a starter. Collins sidestepped the topic while emphasizing the importance of the team's recent strong play.

It appears, however, that Collins is in line for a lucrative new contract after playing a key role in resuscitating the Redskins' season.

"Who knows, really," Collins said. "I'm just enjoying this week to week. I don't know how long this is going to last. I'm just going to savor the moment."

Collins has led Washington (8-7) to three consecutive victories since taking over when Jason Campbell was injured against the Chicago Bears on Dec. 6, putting the Redskins on the verge of only their third postseason appearance in 15 seasons. With a victory over the Dallas Cowboys (13-2) tomorrow at FedEx Field, Washington would clinch the NFC's last playoff spot. The Redskins would not be in this position, many players said, without Collins, who has exceeded their expectations and helped himself in the process.

"With what he's done in the past and what he's doing lately . . . it's pretty amazing," center Casey Rabach said. "We couldn't be happier with the guy we have there, he's doing a heck of a job for us. Obviously, everybody had confidence in him to get the job done. But maybe not to the extent he's been doing it."

In two starts and one long relief appearance, Collins, 36, has completed nearly 61 percent of his passes for 644 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Collins, who had not appeared in a game this season prior to filling in against the Bears, has not thrown enough passes to qualify for the NFL's quarterback rankings (a minimum of 14 passes per game through 15 games). If Collins had enough attempts, his 107.0 passer rating would rank only behind Tom Brady's league-leading mark of 117.2.

Collins has finished games well, completing more than 73 percent of his passes after halftime with a 119.3 passer rating. Collins's closing ability is a welcome attribute on a team that has lost five times this season -- and 15 times since 2004 -- in a game in which it had led at halftime.

"The coaches are giving Todd the opportunity to make plays and he's making them," wide receiver Santana Moss said. "We've always known that Todd knows this offense and knows how to play, but he's going out there and really taking advantage of this opportunity."

Collins had the best outing of his career in the 32-21 victory over the Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome last Sunday. He completed 22 of 29 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns in guiding Washington ahead of Minnesota in the NFC wild-card standings. Early in his career while with the Buffalo Bills, Collins had games in which he completed more passes and had higher yardage totals than in his previous performance, but he had never been so efficient and productive, especially in a game his team had to win to keep its playoff hopes alive.

After a four-game losing streak, the Redskins were 5-7 when they faced the Bears. Collins -- who had not thrown a pass in a regular season game since Dec. 19, 2004 -- entered late in the second quarter when Campbell was carted off the field with a dislocated left kneecap and strained medial collateral ligament.

Collins led the Redskins to all their points. He completed 15 of 20 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns. For his efforts, Collins was named the NFC offensive player of the week. Then, in his first start in a decade the following week, Collins led the Redskins to a 22-10 road victory over the New York Giants.

Collins struggled in difficult weather conditions (8 of 25 for 166 yards) but had no turnovers. He provided steady leadership under pressure and managed the offense well, coaches said, teaming with Moss on 36- and 34-yard completions in the second quarter that helped the Redskins score 10 points in taking a 16-3 halftime lead. Against the Vikings, Collins connected with tight end Chris Cooley and Moss on 33- and 32-yard touchdowns.

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