POMONA, N.Y. — Washington Redskins safety Landon Collins already has it circled on his calendar: Sunday, Sept. 29 (1 p.m. ET) at MetLife Stadium vs. the New York Giants. He reiterated this on Saturday at his farewell to New York event when he hosted the Landon Collins Celebrity Softball Game. The same goes for Sunday, Dec. 22 (1 p.m. ET) when the Giants visit FedEx Field. That game is also circled, and nothing will change for any future matchups against his former team.
In Collins’ mind, the Giants-Redskins rivalry is on, ready to leap into a new stratosphere given the current conditions.
Collins signed a six-year deal worth a potential $84 million with the Redskins this offseason after the Giants allowed him to walk uncontested. They never even made an offer. That left a sour taste in Collins’ mouth and has the Pro Bowl safety yearning to prove the Redskins right and the Giants wrong.
It also might — along with the Giants passing on quarterback Dwayne Haskins only to have him drafted at No. 15 overall by the Redskins — help spark a seemingly listless rivalry between the NFC East teams.
“It’s going to be crazy,” Collins said.
The Giants and Redskins, as of now, are bound simply by their division. Odell Beckham Jr. versus Josh Norman never materialized into anything and the two teams haven’t met in the playoffs since the NFC Championship Game during the 1986 season. They haven’t even been good very often at the same time in recent years to compete for the division title and their last matchup saw the Giants build a 40-0 lead during a December game which had zero playoff implications. Yawn. The closest the Giants and Redskins have come to a big game in the past few years has been when the Giants — with little or nothing to play for — knocked the Redskins out of the playoffs in Week 17 of the 2016 season.
While the Giants and Eagles have met in three playoff games over the past 18 years and the Giants and Cowboys have played in countless memorable games (annual season openers and the 2007 playoffs), the Giants and Redskins rivalry has been lacking. This offseason might just be the injection of juice this rivalry needed.
“You’ve got guys [the Giants] let go and they didn’t draft a guy that everyone wanted them to draft and stuff like that,” Collins said while helping raise $30,000 with his softball game for St. Christopher’s. “It happens. They felt their way was a different way and the best way to them. More power to them.
“As I’ve said from the get-go, and I appreciate Daniel Jones coming out [to the softball game], but I still think we got the best quarterback in the draft.”
The Redskins added Collins and former Giants Ereck Flowers and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie this offseason. Perhaps most notably, they also added Haskins, the Ohio State quarterback who many fans and pundits were calling for the Giants to draft. Instead, New York selected Jones with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft.
— New York Giants (@Giants) June 4, 2019
This surely won’t go unnoticed by the fan bases if one of the quarterbacks is great and the other flops. If both are good, the arguments will undoubtedly go back and forth for years about who is better. It’s what rivalries and sports are built upon. The same as Giants and Cowboys fans will debate Saquon Barkley versus Ezekiel Elliott, there will be Giants and Redskins fans doing the same for Jones and Haskins.
Both rookie quarterbacks met through the pre-draft process. Jones called Haskins a “good guy” and wished him the best with the Redskins before slugging a home run during Saturday’s softball game. But he doesn’t really see it as a rivalry that will elevate the Giants-Redskins matchup.
“I think the Giants-Redskins rivalry has been kind of a classic,” Jones said. “So I don’t really see it that way.”
Haskins might feel a little differently. He wasn’t at Collins’ softball game even though he was listed as a potential participant who would have been teammates with Jones. Haskins was in Maryland tending to a family matter.
But Haskins’ comments during the draft indicated he was going to use the Giants passing on him and selecting Jones as fuel. Haskins was shown on television chuckling as the selection of Jones was announced.
“To be honest, I’m more motivated now than ever,” Haskins told ESPN immediately after he was drafted by the Redskins. “There is a bigger chip on my shoulder. The league done messed up.”
The Giants are likely one of many NFL teams Haskins was referring to with his post-draft comments. The Cardinals also drafted a quarterback ahead of Haskins.
Collins believes it was a blessing to the Redskins that the Giants will regret.
“[Haskins] looks awesome!” Collins said of what he’s seen so far. “Honestly. We all know every quarterback is going to make their rookie mistakes during OTAs. He’s going against veteran guys that know the game. So there are going to be mistakes. But arm power, trusting his arm and trusting throwing to receivers that he doesn’t trust yet and trying to fit it in there. He’s doing all those things. That’s what we need. He’s pushing the ball downfield.”
The early returns on Jones have also been positive. He’s thrown the ball especially well downfield and flashed impressive mobility. The Giants are equally optimistic about his future.
If both teams are correct, there will be memorable games on the horizon and the Giants-Redskins rivalry will be rekindled. Instead of Simms vs. Theismann it will be Jones vs. Haskins. Giants-Redskins will have new meaning.
“We’ll see this upcoming year,” Collins said of where the rivalry is headed. “It’s going to be special.”