By David F. Cohen
When the Eagles signed Malcolm Jenkins last spring, lots of radio blowhards were pissed off that the team wasn’t going for Jairus Byrd, who was perceived to be the safety of choice in free agency and was signed by the Saints for big bucks to replace Jenkins.
But now that training camp is four days old it appears that coach Chip Kelly actually knew what he was doing.
Not only is Jenkins serving as a tutor to the likes of young safeties Earl Wolff and Ed Reynolds, but he taught himself Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis Jr.’s scheme to the point that not only could he teach the young players, but maybe even the coaching staff as well.
“I think he’s done a great job with our staff of asking a lot of interesting questions in terms of, ‘Hey, maybe we can fit it this way,’ as opposed to the way we are fitting it,” Kelly said. “I think he’s really fit in, I think maybe better than anybody on our staff thought he was going to fit in just because we were not familiar with him. But he’s a football player and he adds a lot of stability to the back end out there.”
Jenkins won a Super Bowl with the Saints and after spending the first five years of his career in New Orleans has been around several different types of coaches and coordinators which led him to know exactly how to approach Davis when he had ideas on how to improve the system.
“That is rare,” Jenkins said. “That makes me feel like it’s partly my defense, and every player should feel the same way, because everybody has a voice.
“There’s open dialogue. If they don’t take your suggestion, they’ll give you a reason why, and that way it’s not just a dictatorship, but you understand the defense a little better and you feel like it’s partly yours, and when everybody feels like they have a hand in it, people buy in more, guys know the ins and outs, and it just makes us that much more dynamic.”
Landing in Philly, Jenkins found a staff that not only is open to input from veteran players but already seems to be implementing some of his suggestions.
“It’s huge,” Jenkins said. “I’ve been around a lot of prideful coaches that don’t want to hear anything, so it’s a huge hats off to them, because that helps players really get into it. We feel like we’re all in this together, and you love playing for coaches like that.
“I’ve been around both. I’ve been around a few coaches, like [Saints defensive coordinator] Rob Ryan last year, he was one of those guys, whatever you had to say, he’d listen. If you were a veteran. He wouldn’t listen to rookies. But if you’d been around the block, he’d listen.