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October 09, 2018

Safety Blitz with Malcolm Jenkins: 'I would say our backs are against the wall'

Eagles safety blitz

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Carroll - 2018 Eagles kickoff game Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

The Philadelphia Eagles take the field shortly before the 2018 NFL season kickoff game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Malcolm Jenkins is a two-time Super Bowl champion and veteran NFL safety. Each week this season he'll sit down with PhillyVoice's Joe Santoliquito to bring you Safety Blitz.

The Eagles endured another frustrating loss, another preventable loss, and another setback where they contributed as much to their own demise as the Minnesota Vikings did in Sunday’s 23-21 defeat.

There was Linval Joseph's 64-yard fumble return for a touchdown. Then, there was Jay Ajayi's fumble at the Vikings' 5 on the Eagles' first drive of the second half. 

Now, the Eagles are 2-3, facing a New York Giants team that is 1-4 on a short week. If the Giants lose again, their season, already spiraling downward, may be done. It's similar to the desperate situation the Vikings were faced with last Sunday when they came to Lincoln Financial Field.

But Malcolm Jenkins doesn’t care about that. His main concerned is an Eagles’ team that is leaking already past the quarter mark of the season, though a team that could get right fast with a win on national TV over the sinking Giants on Thursday.

To burrow from some boxing parlance, a wounded man is a dangerous man, and the wounded team against the ropes is the Giants.

“I’m not worried about anyone else’s record but our own right now, and we’re 2-3 with back-to-back losses,” Jenkins said. “I would say our backs are against the wall. We’re playing in the [NFC East] division finally, and there is no bigger game than this week’s. I’m not worried about anyone else’s situation but ours.

“The Giants have talent. They have a talented quarterback in Eli Manning, they have a great receiver in Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard in the slot. They have a dynamic running back in Saquon Barkley, and they’re finding interesting ways to get him the ball. They have weapons on offense, a young, talented tight end [Evan Engram]. They have guys all over the field that can make plays, so there will be some matchup issues. Plus, Eli always tries to get the ball out of his hands real quick.

“We have to have a similar game plan as this last week. We have find a way to create a rush and make them hold on to the ball, and we still have to find a way to stop the run. So I think the biggest thing will be the turnover margin. We have to get that situated and give ourselves a chance to win the game.”

Defensively, the Eagles are still firm against the run, ranked second in the NFL, giving up 66.4 yards a game, behind the Chicago Bears (64.0/per game).

The ominous cloud that’s plagued the Eagles through their first five games this season has been turnovers. Eagles lead the NFL with 13 fumbles, and also lead the NFL entering Week 6 with 7 lost fumbles. Philadelphia is 28th overall in the important takeaway/giveaway ratio, with a minus-4, tied with the 2-2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who beat the Eagles in Week 2, and the 1-4 Oakland Raiders.

The 1-4 San Francisco 49ers are the worst in the NFL in takeaway/giveaway with a minus-8, followed by the underachieving Jacksonville Jaguars, who are 3-2, with a major reason why is the minus-7 in takeaway/giveaway category, despite leading the NFL in total defense, giving up 292.2 yards a game.

Last season, the Eagles lost a total of 11 fumbles and were intercepted nine times throughout the season. But they also caused 31 turnovers, making them a plus-11 in the takeaway/giveaway margin in 2017. This season, they’ve caused five turnovers (3 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries) and turned the ball over nine times (2 interceptions, 7 fumbles). After five games in 2017, the Eagles lost 3 fumbles and were a plus-2 in takeaway/giveaways.

“It’s the one thing that we need to improve on, the turnover margin,” Jenkins said. “You look at our turnover margin and it reflects our record. If we had one thing to fix, it wouldn’t be protecting Carson Wentz, it wouldn’t be big plays on defense, it would be taking the ball away on defense and taking care of the ball on offense.

“Our season would be in an entirely different direction. That’s the quickest way for us to improve as a team. As a team, we all have to make sure each of us have to look at what we can improve in our own games. At the end of the day, we each have to look in the mirror and figure out how we can get better. It’s not an issue of talent. It’s not an issue of scheme.

“We have an opportunity on a short week to get that fixed. We’re within the division on the road, so we don’t have time to sit around and lick our wounds. We have to get back to work. We have to keep the focus on us.

“We have a chance to change this around—and fast.”

Follow Malcolm Jenkins on Twitter @MalcolmJenkins and Facebook at Malcolmjenkinsnfl

Visit Malcolm's clothing store, Damari Savile: Born in the City of Brotherly Love, Damari Savile provides made to order suiting for those looking for a more stylish fit for their wardrobe. Located at 709 Walnut Street.

More Safety Blitz: Week 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

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