Philadelphia Eagles: Can Jenkins help league’s worst pass defense?

Legendary Philadelphia Eagles safety, Brian Dawkins, once said, “I will never have my best season”. Dawkins served as a model of dedication, hard work, and leadership during his ten-year career with the Eagles.

Dawkins was a staple in Philadelphia, not only as one of the best defensive players to ever play the game, but as one of the most influential leaders as well.

Dawkins spent his final three seasons in Denver before injuries led him to retirement.

Dawkins spent his final three seasons in Denver before injuries led him to retirement.

Brian Dawkins played in nine Pro Bowls, received all-pro honors six times, and is one of ten players to record 20 sacks and 20 interceptions. Ever since Dawkins’ signed with the Denver Broncos in 2009, the Eagles have been searching for a replacement at safety.

They may have found it in Malcolm Jenkins.

On the first day of this year’s free agency, the Eagles signed former New Orleans Saints safety, Malcolm Jenkins, to a three-year contract worth $16.25 million.

Jenkins has yet to exceed his expectations as an NFL defensive back. However, he has yet to disappoint them either. Jenkins was a two-time captain during his playing days in the Nola and has proven to be both a durable and intelligent player.

Since being drafted in 2009, Jenkins has only missed seven games and started 15 games in only his second year as a pro. Jenkins is replacing Patrick Chung, who had trouble remaining healthy and struggled in coverage situations.

What makes Jenkins a great fit for the Philly defense is the versatility that he has gained from playing as a cornerback in college and then during his rookie season in the NFL. In 57 games as a Saint, Jenkins recorded 275 tackles, 6 interceptions and forced 6 fumbles.

The Eagles were the worst team in the league at stopping opposing quarterbacks from picking apart their defense through the air. They ranked 32nd against the pass, not because of a lack of pass rush or defensive play calling, but because of a secondary that was susceptible to big plays down the field. That is where the Eagles’ front office is hoping Jenkins can make a difference.

The last time the Eagles signed a free agent defensive back to a sizeable contract, it eventually turned out to be one of the worst free agent signings in franchise history.

In 2011, the Eagles signed cornerback, Nnamdi Asomugha, to a five-year contract worth $60 million with $25 million guaranteed. Asumugha dramatically under-performed and did not play up to his reputation as one of the top lockdown cornerbacks in the league.

However, it would be unlikely for Malcolm Jenkins to fail in improving the Eagles’ defense, considering how they performed last season without him. Jenkins is undoubtedly an upgrade, and at 26 years old, can still reach his first round draft pick potential.

[Eagles making wise decisions in free agency]

The question that the Jenkins signing presents is whether or not this affected General Manager Howie Roseman’s desire to go after former Tampa Bay Bucs’ cornerback, Darrelle Revis, who is highly regarded to be the best cornerback in football.

Roseman expressed interest in signing Revis, and also cut Patrick Chung on the same day that the Eagles signed Jenkins, which cleared up cap space. However, the Eagles were not aggressive during the second day of free agency, and the New England Patriots signed Revis to a one-year deal worth $12 million.

Nonetheless, with an offense that is gearing up to be one of the best in the league next season, Chip Kelly and the Eagles management decided to instill their faith in Malcolm Jenkins to amp up a defense that is simply lacking talent in the secondary.