Eagles Safety Duo Among Best in NFL
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – The Philadelphia Eagles defense is among the best in the NFL. That unit appears to be peaking at the right time allowing just 17 points in two playoff games. The Defensive Line gets a lot of credit for stopping the run and getting to the Quarterback, but it is the consistency and talent of the Safeties that helps them do their job.
Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod are extremely versatile and experienced veterans tasked with protecting the back end of the defense.
“You got two veteran guys who have been around a while,” Defensive Tackle Fletcher Cox said. “They are guys who always step up and go to war and play any position that coach asks them to play. When you got guys like that it is really good for the team.”
The marriage of Jenkins and McLeod is in its second season. Jenkins signed with the Eagles as a free agent in 2014. McLeod signed as a free agent in 2017.
“That was one of the reasons I came to Philly was because of Malcolm,” McLeod explained.
Jenkins recalled how excited he was to learn about McLeod’s decision to play for the Eagles.
“I remember when we signed him, looking at some of his tape and being familiar with who he was that he had range and was an explosive player,” Jenkins smiled. “I was happy because that allowed me to play closer to the box.”
Freeing Jenkins up to play more in the box and closer to the line of scrimmage is a big reason why the Eagles have such success stopping the run. Jenkins sometimes plays like a linebacker in the body of a safety.
“I like to see him in the box,” Cox laughed. “When he is in the box, sometimes I see a guy making a tackle and it is Malcolm and I think what are you doing down here. He is smaller, but he plays big.”
Jenkins and McLeod gelled quickly as a safety unit due to the common background in the sport.
“The learning curve for us was really accelerated because we were taught the game by the same coordinator in Greg Williams,” Jenkins said. “When Rodney got here we both spoke the same language and we both viewed the game through the same pair of eyes.”
“We work well together, we see the game similar and it has grown for me from year one to year two,” McLeod explained. “I think that has a lot to do with our success.”
That success is also due to mutual respect in what each of them bring to the field. They are similar in style, but different enough to mesh perfectly as a unit.
“His caliber as a player, he is smart and physical and I can learn a lot from him,” McLeod said. “From day one I have just been picking his brain. We work well together, we see the game similar and it has grown for me from year one to year two. I think that has a lot to do with our success. Hopefully, we are both around for a long time.”
“Our communication was really seamless in our transition,” Jenkins explained. “In our second year together, our ability to have versatility allows us to do things that other tandems aren’t able to do. That is moving around, being in different spots. He has played corner in his career as well as nickel and safety. I have played the same things, so if we are ever in a bind we are interchangeable and it is been one of the reasons why we are one of the top duo’s in the league.”
That duo will be tasked with trying to keep Tom Brady and the New England Patriots offense out of the endzone as much as possible on Sunday. Keeping that to a minimum will likely result in helping the Eagles win their first Super Bowl title in franchise history.