The Philadelphia Eagles secondary in 2013 was a mess, lacking identity, leadership, and aside from improved play from cornerback Brandon Boykins, they struggled to hold their own.
Early on in training camp, recently signed free agent Malcom Jenkins is already showing his worth.
Jenkins signed a three year/ $16.25 million deal to come in and replace the void left by former safety Patrick Chung. Malcolm’s best season was 2013, where he tallied 2.5 sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and 68 tackles. What he brings to the team is tenacity and stability, which this team has lacked for a while now.
Just several days into training camp, Jenkins is showing he’s worth more than the occasional “big play”. His ability to help guide the younger players is invaluable. He understands that he shares similarities with the young players. While he obviously has knowledge of the game as a six year veteran, his young age (26) helps him have a blend of working well with other veterans while being able to relate to the younger guys on the roster.
As a free agent, he comes in like the rookies just trying to find their place and where they stand amongst their peers. Jenkins told Philadelphiaeagles.com:
“It was kind of one of those things you know where I show up and work the way I do and I think my work ethic and work habits have made me a leader in other teams and it’s the same way here”
While the Eagles got themselves a player coming off of a career year in 2013, expect bigger things in the 2014 season. Jenkins admitted that playing solely in the deep secondary makes him antsy and that’s where he decides to gamble and it doesn’t pay off. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis employs a zone defense, but will work on getting the safety more in the box, where Jenkins’ can get the chance to blitz more and play closer to the line, which suits his style better, he says.
Early on the secondary had created zero turnovers, but that ended on Wednesday, when the secondary had four interceptions, two of which were created by Jenkins. Quarterback Nick Foles gave praise to Jenkins’ ability:
“They went Cover 0. It was third-and-2 in the situation. I was trying to throw an out route and it’s very tough in those situations. He did a great job of in-and-outting the route and cutting the route,” Foles said. “I love to see that aggressiveness. That’s why we practice. I’m glad that wasn’t a game. It’s also great for me because if you’re going to make a mistake, make it out here where you can learn from it. I know what to do next time.”
Will he be able to bring back the memories of the play and leadership of Eagles legend Brian Dawkins? No, what Dawkins brought was an “X-Factor” that may never be replaced. What Jenkins can bring with his leadership and play is an identity that this team has lacked since Dawkins’ departure.