For so long, Giants' fans would cringe and hide their eyes once quarterback Kerry Collins was flushed from the pocket, fearful their strong-armed but heavy-legged passer was headed for nothing but a sack, a short gain, or at worst, an interception.
But this season, Collins has revealed a new version of himself as a dangerous quarterback on the move. Two of the biggest plays in the Giants' 24-21 overtime victory over Washington two Sundays ago were completions by Collins on the run.
A 5-yard touchdown pass to Ike Hilliard with 19 seconds to go before halftime gave the Giants a 21-3 lead, and a 27-yard completion to fullback Jim Finn in overtime set up the game-winning field goal. Both came with Collins rolled out to his right, and were completed with dead-on accuracy.
"It adds a lot because at certain times we can get him out of the pocket and defenses can't say 'We're going to blitz you and Kerry's going to be right here,'" first-year quarterbacks coach Turk Schonert said. "We're going to move him around, put him in different spots, and teams have to account for him."
Schonert and coach Jim Fassel added training camp drills for Collins that dealt with throwing on the run.
"It's a technique," Fassel said. "You're moving and the receivers are moving and you have to have timing. Getting your shoulders down, bending your knees, those types of things. We've scored when they were coming after us hard up the middle. All you have to do is seal everything and get [Kerry] outside and he throws a completion."
The Hilliard touchdown worked precisely that way, an indication that the on-the-move throw is another dimension to the ever-improving Collins. Because he might not have been able to make such a throw in the past, the coaches weren't likely to even call such a play.
"I know Jim's gotten confidence in him, I've got confidence in him, and Kerry's gotten confidence in himself doing it," Schonert said. "Watching film from last year, his accuracy was an issue on the move. He was all over the place. He's gotten more accurate."
Collins will never carve a reputation for escaping the pocket and turning into a running back, but he does deserve credit for his mobility within the pocket and ability to make so many different throws.
"That helps you as a quarterback and as an offense," backup quarterback Jason Garrett said. "It's not [Michael] Vick or [Donovan] McNabb, but it's mobility, quick feet, and athleticism. The key is getting yourself righted after the subtle movement to make the throw. Kerry is such a good athlete and I think a lot of times because he's a big guy with a strong arm people don't feel like he's athletic but he really is. He can move and he can throw the ball from so many different positions."