Collins is dialing up on Fassel's calls

The faster tempo, better rhythm, increased role in decision-making, and leadership.

QB Kerry Collins has flourished in two games with coach Jim Fassel calling the plays. His numbers show it -- 45 completions on 63 attempts (71.4 percent), 528 yards, three TDs, one interception --and so does his demeanor.

Collins is clearly comfortable in an expanded role compared to what he was afforded under offensive coordinator Sean Payton, who maintained tighter control of the offense until he was relieved of his play-calling duties two weeks ago.

"I think it definitely makes me feel more a part of it," said Collins, who remains loyal to Payton. "Jim has given me a lot of freedom to change a route, to not necessarily make a complete, wholesale change on a play, but a change. As a quarterback, you're playing the game, you see what you see. You know what you think is good. To have that kind of freedom, I think, has really helped the way that I'm approaching the game and playing as the game progresses."

It's about time. Collins is, after all, in his eighth season. He is content. He understands the offense. He is mature.

Fassel, a former quarterback, has recognized that Collins is ready to take on more. Fassel has included Collins in choosing plays and wants Collins to be "at the forefront" in leading this team.

"Obviously he was a quarterback himself," Collins said. "He feels that quarterbacks should be involved in what we're doing."

Fassel thinks Collins "is playing his best football" since coming to the Giants in 1999.

"He just handles things so maturely," Fassel said. "I feel very confident in his maturity level, and that's one of the reasons that I shove leadership and responsibility his way as far as being a very active participant in what we're doing."

All of that will be more important than ever with the Giants' receiving corps in upheaval because of injuries. Ike Hilliard, Collins' most trusted target, is gone for the season, as is promising rookie Tim Carter. Ron Dixon has a sprained knee.

The Giants are fortunate they have RB Tiki Barber, the leading pass-catcher who can line up in the slot, and TE Jeremy Shockey, who can -- and should -- split wide more often. The addition yesterday of Herman Moore can only help.

But more than anyone or anything, keeping the offense going falls on Collins. Good thing he likes it that way.
Nov. 13, 02