Jenkins: Eagles’ ‘Philosophy Change’ Speaks Volumes

Photo by: Jeff Fusco

Malcolm Jenkins. (Jeff Fusco)

Not long after the season ended, Malcolm Jenkins reached out to his agent with clear instructions: If the Eagles want me back, I want to sign a long-term deal to stay in Philadelphia past 2016.

“[Jeffrey] Lurie and Howie [Roseman] and Doug [Pederson] really felt like they wanted to start to build around players that they have already in the building,” Jenkins said. “It felt good to me to know that I was on that list of players that they feel like they can start to build around to win a championship.”

The safety, who made his first Pro Bowl last season, said his career has taken off during his two years with the Eagles, which is reflected by his four-year contract extension worth $35 million. Jenkins noted how the Eagles’ interest in retaining him contrasted to his experience with the Saints when they let him walk in free agency after his five-year tenure in New Orleans.

“Leaving there, the biggest thing I felt was that the team obviously didn’t want me there and didn’t value me as a player,” Jenkins said. “That’s more important than money to me. To be in a situation where you have another year on your deal and the team still wants to extend that and they see your value, they want you in the building and they want to build around you, that speaks volumes.

“That’s very, very important to a player like me. It was very important. It meant a lot to me, obviously, in this situation and I’m excited to be in an organization that sees your talent, that values your talent and expresses that. Commitment is huge.”

Jenkins emphasized how the Eagles’ new approach to building around current players is a positive change, and that it’s the strategy successful teams use.

“It gives your players confidence that if you play well, if you produce, you’ll be rewarded,” Jenkins said. “It builds that camaraderie and when you have consistency with leaders in the locker room over time, you build on that and you develop culture and you develop camaraderie more than just the X’s and O’s. When you look at that model across the NFL, those who use it usually do well.

“That philosophy change, more than anything this offseason, has been probably the thing that spoke the most volumes and that guys in the locker room have paid attention to. It gives you incentive or more want to to be in this building, be an Eagle. You get proud of having that logo on your chest.”

Jenkins spoke out toward the end of the season about how players weren’t being held accountable enough, and he detailed how he felt meetings should’ve been handled differently. With a new coaching staff, he thinks those potential changes will help the team.

“We’re looking forward to being more unified, especially on the defensive side of the ball, with meetings being with linebackers and the secondary so that we’re on the same page; linebackers and the d-line so that they’re on the same page,” Jenkins said. “That’s things that guys have been used to in other places that we hadn’t done here that I think will help out.”

Although Jenkins said he would prefer to play in a 3-4 defense over a 4-3 when the season ended, he expressed confidence Monday afternoon in his ability to fit Jim Schwartz’s scheme. He mentioned that the Eagles keeping defensive backs coach Cory Undlin was “huge,” and that he hopes free agent Walter Thurmond will be re-signed.

He added that playing fewer snaps will help the defense as well.

“It’s just like anything, the more exposure you have, the harder it is to succeed,” Jenkins said. “With our defense playing a normal amount of snaps, I think we can have a lot of success, especially when you talk about controlling the clock and just really complementing one another. I think that’s really what it’s all about: how does your offense complement your defense? And that really starts upstairs with the coaching staff to figure out what scheme they want to do on both ends, and how does that mesh together, how does that flow in a game?”