With training camp less than two weeks away, Packers third year cornerback, Quinten Rollins desperately needs to show that his second year in Green Bay was nothing more than a fluke. One noticeable difference between his rookie season and his second season was his aggressiveness playing the ball in the air, which was most likely due to a groin injury, as reported by Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee State Journal.
Like many rookies, he was playing with a ton of confidence. The confidence of an undersized basketball player who’s needed to prove himself time and time again. The Miami (OH) product showed the ability to get his hands in position to make it difficult for the receiver to get both hands on the ball. That’s something you’d expect from a division one starting point guard, ball skills.
His confidence led to excellent play. David Neumann of profootballfocus.com notes,
“In 2015, Rollins allowed a 58.4 passer rating on 39 targets into his coverage, which ranked fourth out of 105 cornerbacks with at least 200 coverage snaps. Last season, that ballooned to a 135.4 passer rating on 67 targets, including seven touchdowns, which ranked 107th out of 110 cornerbacks.”
Even before he sustained his groin injury last October, he wasn’t attacking the ball like his rookie season. There have been many athletes that show their most promise as a rookie, when they’re still trying to prove to themselves if they belong at the top level. An irrational confidence kicks in, they aren’t exactly sure what their assignment is, so they play by their instincts.
The talent the scouts saw in them shines for a moment, then everyone from the front office, coaching staff, and fanbase start imagining the players best case scenario. Unfortunately, there are cases when the player loses that creativity as they pick up the playbook.
Rollins showed a ton of creativity his rookie season, looking as if he was guarding a quick point guard when up against a slot receiver, or going up to tip away a rebound from the physically gifted outside receiver. His basketball background made him look like he belonged on the field more than many corners who’ve dedicated much more time to football.
His second year in the league just didn’t have the same basketball mojo coming out in his play. Instead of jumping a passing lane and knocking the ball into the rich folk sitting courtside, he was sitting on his assignment’s hip, hoping to stretch his arm into the passing lane.
Rollins is the type of player that needs to rely on his creativity to get the most out of his skill set. Undersized players need to figure out a way to overcome their shortcomings.
Steve Nash became a star in the NBA because he trusted his creativity. Had he listened to his coaches and just played the game of basketball by the book, afraid of getting burned, he’s not in the NBA. Imagine if Charles Woodson had just played to his gap assignments, and never used the creativity that made him the Defensive Player of the Year. Had he relied on his physical profile, his time in the league would not have extended until the age of 39.
As desperate as the Packers cornerback situation was last season, Ted Thompson added Davon House and Kevin King to the mix. I would expect both players will get playing time this season. Leaving Ladarius Gunter, who the team seems to be high on, and Demarious Randall as Rollins competition for playing time.
The former Miami (OH) point guard is in a tough position entering the 2018 season. He needs to have a big preseason to cement himself into the team’s future plans. If he continues to struggle, he’ll likely become the team’s fifth corner, looking for a new team at season’s end.
He has a lot of ability and size in front of him on the depth chart. Rollins needs to find an equalizer to make it in Green Bay. Much like Steve Nash and Charles Woodson, it’ll come from trusting his unique skill set, and letting his irrational confidence dive deeper in the pool.
The third year player should ghost motion in-between the leg dribbles as he jogs to line up with his assignment. Pretend he’s Allen Iverson in the 2001 Finals and stomp, step over Tyrone Lue. Get in the zone pre-snap in Lee Evans like fashion.
He’s a basketball player on the football field, forgetting that could be the end of the journey, remembering it could be the start of a long, long career.
Rollins can become a dangerous weapon on the defensive end the Packers haven’t had in some years now. He just needs to stay healthy, and trust his instincts over the advice.