Chiefs in Good Hands with Todd Collins

In the NFL the most popular player on the roster used to be the back-up quarterback. For Chiefs quarterback Todd Collins his number rarely gets called upon to lead the Chiefs in a game winning drive but the debate rages as to what might happen if he's actually called upon to lead this high powered offense.

"If Trent Green gets hurt, it's curtains," said a fan in a recent article in a KC Star column. For some reason, it seems that some Chiefs fans share this opinion. If you were to go into a Kansas City watering hole and ask a dozen or more Chiefs fans their opinion on whether or not the team would be in good hands if Collins had to play, a significant percentage would be of the opinion that the team would be in trouble. But there just isn't any valid reason to support that opinion.

In spite of what may even be the majority opinion, the facts tell us the opposite is true. The Chiefs are very fortunate to have Todd Collins as their number two man. Which facts you ask?

How about the last time Collins had any significant playing time? That would be the pre-season of last year. All Collins did was complete 38 of 49 passes (77%), and throw three touchdowns with ZERO interceptions, for a passer rating of 128.2. In fact, Collins has finished five of the last six pre-seasons as the Chiefs highest rated passer. He has thrown for 13 touchdowns versus only three interceptions in the last six pre-seasons.

This will be Collins' 11th season in the NFL, eighth with the Chiefs, and this will be his fifth consecutive year as teams top back-up. He has a solid grasp of the offensive system and has to be one of the healthiest quarterbacks ever to play eleven years in this violent game as his body hasn't taken many hits over the past few years. A former second round pick of the Bills, he has 17 starts and 39 games of experience in regular season games.

Collins plays behind Chiefs starting quarterback Trent Green, who hasn't missed a start in four consecutive seasons, the only Chiefs quarterback to ever accomplish that. What is sometimes lost in that statistic is that Collins played very well when he's been given the chance to lead the team on offense in meaningless pre-season games playing with the second and third team offenses. The problem is that he hasn't been called upon to start any games with the first team in a regular season due to Greens' amazing durability.

Ask any NFL coach if they would want to have a healthy, veteran back-up QB who knows your system as well as your starter and to a man they would tell you that it would make them sleep better at night. Just ask the Miami if they would like that situation right now. If you polled most NFL experts would agree that Collins would be starting if he played for the Dolphins right now. Could it be that Chiefs fans have been a little bit spoiled by their QB tandem of Green and Collins? To answer that burning question we asked the real resident authorities of Kansas City Chiefs football, the offensive coaches, are very pleased with their top two signal-callers.

Chiefs Head Coach Dick Vermeil how Collins has done so far in training camp. "Todd's doing a good job. He has gotten more work because we're trying to limit the rep's that Trent (Green) throws because of his sore shoulder," Vermeil said. "It's good for him. He'll probably be more ready to play because of getting those rep's."

When asked if Collins effective play thus far in training camp has surprised him, Vermeil added, "Nothing he does real well surprises me. We more or less take him for granted. We expect him to do a good job and he does."

Another person on Collins side is offensive coordinator Al Saunders who shares the same sentiment as his the head coach.

"He (Collins) has done a terrific job. You saw that two-minute offense (in practice today) and he was flawless. He has a great understanding of this offense and I think he is a tremendously underrated player. He has been in this scheme going on his fifth season. He is an extremely brilliant young man and he understands the offense as thoroughly as Trent (Green) does and he has a very catch-able ball. He has improved in his passing game. (QB's coach) Terry Shea has done a terrific job with him in regards to his mechanics and his throwing the ball. He has a lot more velocity than he has ever had. We would feel very comfortable if Todd had to go in and play," Saunders said.

Collins will turn 35 years old in November, but many observers in training camp have commented that if anything he looks younger than ever and, as coach Saunders commented, he has more zip on the ball than in previous years.

Still we needed to further make our case so we went to the source to try and settle the debate. We went to the teams' most under-appreciated player Todd Collins to get his thoughts on being the back-up and how the team has looked overall in training camp.

WI: How do you feel physically, you look like you could play for several more year?

TC: "I hope to, this is the final year of my contract so we will see what happens, its not entirely up to me. I feel good, there is a little soreness in my elbow but that's to be expected."

WI: You seem pretty fresh out there, it's as if you are getting better with age?

TC: "Thanks, one advantage I have from not playing much in the regular season is my body stays healthy, and I try to stay in shape and keep on improving"

WI: The coaches know what they can expect from you and will probably want to look closely at the other back-up quarterbacks, how much do you expect to play in the first two preseason games?

TC: "It's too early to tell, but probably about the same as previous years, I'm not sure if I will play into the second half or not in the first couple games."

WI: How do the receivers look this year?

TC: "Cro (Craphonso Thorpe) came in a little late, I think he held out a couple days, but he is coming along very good and we have a solid veteran core returning including Samie Parker who played well toward the end of last year too."

WI: During the regular season with Trent Green's 64 game consecutive starts, is it hard to keep your head in the game and stay prepared to play?

TC: "I don't think it's hard, it's my profession and I take it very seriously. I just try to get in a mode where there is a consistent pattern of getting ready to go whether it's off-season work, training camp, or games."

WI: Does the defense look quicker this season?

TC: "I think so, yes. I don't think they are giving up as many big plays in the passing game as they were in years past, they're doing a great job back there in the secondary, and some of those linebackers and defensive linemen seem to be more fired up too."

Todd Collins hasn't been able to get on the field much in the last few years, but if called upon, he is ready to go. The Chiefs have a back-up quarterback that is more qualified and better prepared than most teams have to keep their high powered offense on the attack.

And in case Chiefs fans have a short memory or a long one in this case, the last back-up quarterback to lead the Chiefs in a big series of games was none other than Mike Livingston who filled in for Len Dawson some 35 years ago.

For Collins in 2005, he never knows when he might have to fill in for Trent Green because on any given play on any given Sunday; this back-up quarterback could become the most popular player on the team once again.

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