Jenkins’ Versatility Was the Difference Against Giants
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Jim Schwartz has been running NFL defenses for almost two decades and the veteran coach thought he had seen it all ... until Sunday.
"I don't know if I've ever had a game like that," The Eagles defensive coordinator said two days after the Eagles' 25-22 comeback win over the New York Giants. "The way that game started off, I was really proud of the way our guys hung in."
The way the game started off is Schwartz's banged-up unit allowing the terribly limited Eli Manning and the Giants to run up 346 yards of total offense in the first 30 minutes before completing shutting things down despite essentially playing without their top five cornerbacks [an ailing Rasul Douglas did play a few snaps] and losing another, undrafted rookie Chandon Sullivan, in-game.
A plea by veterans Malcolm Jenkins and Corey Graham to simplify the coverage schemes for the unproven cornerbacks was heeded and seemed to help dramatically as did the versatility of Jenkins, who ended up playing his typical box-safety position in the game as well as nickel linebacker before moving to slot corner once Sullivan went down and Cre'Von LeBlanc was kicked outside.
"We had so many new guys on the field and we were having some issues with communication and execution," Schwartz admitted. "We just simplified some things. They were trying to use -- not hurry-up tempo like you would think, like no-huddle, but they were trying to get out of the huddle and snap the ball quick and things like that. Like I said, we had some new guys and a lot of different layers to a lot of our calls, but we sort of eliminated those, and it worked out pretty well for us."
Jenkins, the only healthy member of the opening-day secondary playing, proved to be a godsend not only with arguably his best game of the season but also for his on-field communication skills with the untested.
"I don't know that we could have won that game without having a guy like Malcolm Jenkins," Schwartz said. "No.1 that has the flexibility to move to different positions, and No. 2 the athletic ability to do it. It's easier said than done. It's not just knowing what to do.
"But, you know, we were corner challenged. That's pretty well documented, and then we had an injury in the game and he had to go in and get us through that. And not only got us through it, but we played at a high level with him in there. He was certainly a key part of that turnaround from the beginning of the game to the end of game."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen