Afternoon Reading: Jenkins, Cox Make the Grade
DeSean Jackson is offended, Eli Manning is confident and Fletcher Cox stands alone. Some quick links for you this afternoon:
Doug Farrar of SI.com put together a list of the 10 best hybrid players in the NFL. He has Malcolm Jenkins at No. 10 and Cox at No. 5
10. Malcolm Jenkins, Philadelphia Eagles
Jenkins has straddled the line between safety and cornerback since he came to the NFL out of Ohio State in 2009. (The Saints utilized him in both roles, especially early in his career.) When he joined the Eagles in 2014, Jenkins started out as a safety, then moved into more of a hybrid slot corner as Brandon Boykin’s role was reduced. Now, he’s equally adept at taking away slot receivers as he is rolling to the top of a defense as a pure safety, making him an excellent personification of the league’s current need for positional versatility.
5. Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia Eagles
The public often slams players who lose their overall excellence after their teams undergo schematic changes, while the respect earned by players who are indeed able to transcend major playbook shifts isn’t equally distributed. If it was, you’d be hearing a lot more about Cox and his ability to transition from a three-tech/nose tackle role in his rookie season of 2012 in a 4–3 base defense to Philly’s multi-front 3–4 over the last three years. Early on, Cox was asked to penetrate as a one-gap tackle, and he could do that very well with his power and speed. But under Chip Kelly and defensive coordinator Bill Davis, the Eagles moved to a two-gap 3–4 base front with some one-gap variables, testing Cox’s mettle. A lot of aggressive one-gap players find it difficult to play the waiting game as a two-gap tackle, but Cox excelled last season with a career-high 9.5 sacks and 77 total pressures. He was flexed in everywhere from end to straight-up nose tackle, and he disrupted consistently. With the hiring of new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, Cox should flourish in a 4–3 more similar to his rookie campaign.
“They still count me out,” Jackson said on Twitter, via Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post. “What they thought I ain’t Still one of the SiCcest Wideouts In Tha Game?? Jus watch & See They ain’t Neva Love a Real one anyway My Family taken Care of 4 life & Ima continue 2 ball on they ass.”
It’s no surprise Jackson didn’t make the top 100 in the 2016 list. Last year, he missed seven games and finished with only 528 receiving yards. Given the voting process, which requires all players who vote to list off the top of their heads the top 20 players in the league, it’s no surprise that the top 20 (and, in turn, the top 100) will skew toward the “what have you done for me lately?” category.
That’s why Colts quarterback Andrew Luck landed at No. 92. It’s why 2015 league MVP Cam Newton finished at No. 1.
It’s also why Jackson finished at No. 50 in 2015; he had 1,169 receiving yards in 2014, his first year with Washington.
Cox was the Eagles’ lone representative in the top 100 at No. 49.
Elsewhere in the NFC East, Eli Manning is bullish on the the Giants’ chances of making the playoffs. From Paul Schwartz of the New York Post:
He could have dodged the question the way he tries to escape the clutches of ferocious pass-rushers. Instead, Eli Manning tackled the question head-on.
Are the Giants of 2016 a playoff team?
“Yeah, definitely,” Manning said Wednesday morning at a Gatorade event at Kean University in Union, N.J. “We added some great players in the offseason. We were aggressive in free agency, but still have a lot of our core guys, especially on offense, back and I think we made some good moves on defense. We’re getting some guys back healthy. It’s just a matter of, hey, the talent is there, can we put it together, can we find a way to win the games and play our best football when we need to?”