T.J. Ward and Jairus Byrd were the two names spiraling out of control all around the NovaCare center on the eve of NFL Free Agency. Fans and media alike, were all waiting in angst hoping for an announcement that the Eagles have locked up one of these two, thought to be, best safeties on the market. Instead the name they heard was former New Orleans Saint, Malcolm Jenkins. I must admit, this signing did not signify greatness to me, but instead seemed like another marginal upgrade that would bode well for Howie Roseman and his illustrious salary cap.
Fortunately for the Eagles, it looks after 3 games that Malcolm Jenkins has not only proved to be an A+ signing, but he has outplayed the other two prize possessions that were ranked before him by all of the prognosticators as well. As T.J. and Jairus are still looking for their first game changing interception, Malcolm recorded an interception for the third straight game, this time stepping in front of a Colin Kapernick pass and going 53 yards through traffic for a touchdown.
Obviously we are only 3 games into a 16 game season, but one thing is for sure: Jenkins was the right player to add to their secondary and implement their scheme. The former first round pick out of Ohio State was let go by the New Orleans Saints because he supposedly didn’t fit Rob Ryan’s system, which from the onset sounded like a problem that concerned many people in the media. His skills and mental attributes all started to come under scrutiny, as the Saints decided to go in another direction and sign Byrd instead.
Malcolm was drafted as a CB, but later was molded into a Safety because of his freakish speed and coverage ability. The Eagles haven’t had a Safety presence like Jenkins since the departure of the great Brian Dawkins, whose ball hawking skills and smash mouth style will never be duplicated. Ironically, Jenkins is the hardest-hitting safety the Eagles have featured since Dawkins left via free agency following the 2008 season, along with similar leadership qualities as well as the ability to make big plays.
“It’s a mentality that, yeah, every time we have the ball we want to score. We’re the defense and we don’t touch the ball that much,” Jenkins said. “Every time we touch it, we want to score. That’s why you see guys turning and blocking and trying to escort the ballcarrier into the end zone. It’s a big deal when we’re able to do that and hopefully turn a game around.”
Watching him live, on film, or during replays, you can sense the passion he has for the position and the game. I have seen him jump routes with efficiency, direct the defense on coverage audibles, come up in the box to stop the run, and even make an important stop on special teams. He has definitely adapted to the soaring mentality of the Philadelphia Eagles and their fan base.
If you are expecting another #20, you will be disappointed. However, if you are looking an exciting playmaker, smart decision maker, and a general on the football field, Malcolm Jenkins is starting to turn heads and making all the prognosticators look silly!
Tony Cutillo (@TCutillo23)