I wanted the Eagles to sign Malcolm Jenkins. Some fans wanted Jairus Byrd. Others wanted TJ Ward. Rumors had the team very interested in Mike Mitchell. Jenkins was my guy.
Malcolm Jenkins is not a great player. He’s not an elite playmaker. But I felt like he was the right guy for the Eagles. And that is more important that being the guy with the best stats or the biggest name. Sometimes the right fit is the star player. When you’re team signs that guy, you’re on Cloud Nine.
Jenkins is the right kind of person and the right kind of player. The back end of the defense needed a leader. Jenkins is a veteran who has won a Super Bowl and been part of some big games. He can handle pressure. He’s smart and he’s a good communicator. Jenkins can help Earl Wolff and other young players develop. He can also make a big impact on gamedays by running the secondary and making sure everyone is lined up correctly on a regular basis.
As a player, Jenkins’ best quality is his versatility. Put on a Saints game and you’ll see him in the box, playing centerfield. lined up in the slot and even occasionally lined up at outside corner. He can do it all.
That’s important for a couple of reasons. Bill Davis likes to blitz. If he has versatile DBs on the field, he can mix up assignments and coverages. Remember the Dallas game when Patrick Chung was 1-on-1 with Dez Bryant? That turned into a TD. I can’t guarantee Jenkins tackles Bryant short of the sticks or breaks up the pass, but I bet he wouldn’t have given up the long TD. That happened due to a blitz where Chung was required to cover a WR. Didn’t work at all. Davis can now use that play with a better hope for success.
Brandon Boykin is a terrific nickelback, but he had no real backup last year. If anything had happened to him, the Eagles would have put Roc Carmichael in there and the results likely wouldn’t have been very pretty. Jenkins has played the slot a ton for the Saints. He can handle that role if need be.
In terms of traditional Safety roles, Jenkins is a solid centerfielder and effective box player. He’s not great at either role. And that’s his biggest weakness…that he’s not a standout player in any one area. Jack of all trades, master of none. Jenkins isn’t going to step on the field and instantly make the defense something special. He’s not an impact player.
But think back to last year. The Eagles defense looked pretty darn good at times. They had a ton of issues on 3rd/long. Jenkins will get everyone lined up correctly. And he’s going to be a more aggressive tackler than Nate Allen. The Eagles were way too passive on some 3rd downs last year. If Jenkins can just help to clean up some 3rd down issues, he’ll help the Eagles a lot.
Jenkins does have very good man cover skills. Davis can use him against TEs. Jenkins is 6-0, 204, which is solid size. Nate Allen had some good moments in man coverage vs TEs, but Jenkins will be more consistent.
If you put Jenkins in the box, he’s not afraid to get physical and mix it up. He’s not going to light it up down there. Jenkins grew up playing CB so he’s not used to playing in a ton of traffic.
As to playmaking skills…check out 2013:
Jenkins – 2.5 sacks, 2 FFs, 2 INTs, 5 PDs, 5 TFLs.
Eagles Safeties – 1 sack, 1 FF, 2 INTs, 14 PDs, 4 TFLs
While Jenkins isn’t a great playmaker, he is an upgrade. And the price was right. He signed a very reasonable deal, getting 3 years for $16M. That gives the Eagles the flexibility to add other players. Heck, they could sign another Safety, They’ve got a shot in the Revis sweepstakes. And they’re checking out OLBs. I just don’t know if they’ll find anyone they like there.
Malcolm Jenkins doesn’t solve the position of Safety for the Eagles. He is a building block. He is a better player and leader than anyone the Eagles had last year. They can bring in another player via free agency or the draft and continue building up the position. If Nate Allen gets no interest from other teams, maybe he is willing to return as a backup. The Eagles could decide to bring back Kurt Coleman or Colt Anderson as STs/backups. I doubt both return, but one could.
Jenkins is an excellent start to helping to fix the defense. But there is still plenty of work to be done.
The #Eagles and free-agent S/special teams ace Chris Maragos agreed on a 3-year, $4 M deal, with $1 M guaranteed, per source.
— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) March 12, 2014
So that pretty much eliminates Anderson or Coleman returning.
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