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September 05, 2018

Safety Blitz with Malcolm Jenkins: 'It’s time to turn that page' on Super Bowl season

'This team didn’t earn that. This is a brand new team that has to do its own thing.'

Philadelphia Eagles NFL

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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".

Ever since Malcolm Jenkins arrived in Philadelphia, the veteran safety’s main priority with the Eagles was forming an unbreakable bond on and off the field that would translate into victories.

It took some time, but the team Jenkins — who is entering his 10th season when the Eagles host the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday in the NFL national opener at Lincoln Financial Field — finally saw the fruition of what he envisioned when he first signed with the Eagles in 2014.

It was Jenkins who personally didn’t like the Super Bowl LII champions sign hanging in the Eagles’ locker room at the NovaCare Complex, because he’s quick to point out this is a new team and a new year, with new goals and new bonds that need to be formed.

In the four previous years Jenkins has been with the Eagles, he’s finished among the top four tacklers on the team. Last season was particularly challenging—and typical—of Jenkins, who was arguably the team MVP. He finished third on the Eagles with 76 tackles, behind linebacker Nigel Bradham, though more importantly, sacrificed personal stats to play four different positions.

According to Pro Football Focus in 2017, Jenkins played linebacker for 42 percent of the snaps, slot cornerback for 30 percent, safety for 24 percent, and outside cornerback for four percent, proving once again to be the most versatile player in the NFL. He possesses the rare blend of tackling ability in the box along with the speed to drop back into coverage. In four seasons with the Eagles, he’s had 322 tackles, 10 interceptions, four TDs, 41 pass deflections, and forced five fumbles in 64 regular season games—without missing a game.

Though, 2017 marked a special season for Jenkins because that was his team. He won a Super Bowl as a rookie with the 2009 New Orleans Saints, and absorbed the template of what made that team special — on and off the field. It’s why his goal has always been about unity and “team” ever since he began wearing midnight green.

Gradually, Jenkins has risen to the role of elder statesmen on the Eagles, recognized as “the captain.” It was his personal stamp that was placed on the 2017 Super Bowl champions. Since he came to the Eagles, Jenkins has been the one player who’s always had his hand on the pulse of this team.

In October 2017, Jenkins was the one that said the Eagles were the team to beat in the NFC East without hesitation.

But this is, he stresses, a new year.

“Looking around at the guys that we have, we definitely have a talented team that can match up with anybody,” Jenkins said. “That’s as far as it goes. Hopefully, we can take our potential and do something with it. I feel comfortable with the guys that we have fitting into the scheme. This is definitely a confident bunch of guys.

“The team last year was the closest I ever played with — on and off the field. All of the adversity forced us to come together and either sink or swim. We have to work on that unity that we had last year. Last year, we brought in character guys that had a winning pedigree and are unselfish. Guys like LeGarrette Blount, Chris Long, and Torrey Smith. We had guys playing roles that no one complained about. No one cared about touches.

“We had young players like Derek Barnett, like Corey Clement, like Nelson Agholor buy into what the leaders on the team were doing. Then there were guys that kept making plays, like Agholor, Carson [Wentz], Nick [Foles] and Zach Ertz all year. We had everybody contribute, when Jake Elliott hit a 61-yard field goal, Kamu [Grugier-Hill] filling in as a kicker in a game, Trey Burton playing long snapper. No one ever doubted. Everyone expected everyone else to execute. I knew as a teammate that everyone cared enough to prepare. So when something happened, we were able to keep going.”

Coupled with the two-way input that Doug Pederson and his staff allowed the players, it made a winning formula.

“There is no doubt we can have the same unity that we had last year,” Jenkins said. “We have other character guys that we’ve taken in this year. We’re heading in a good direction, but you never really know what you have as a team or the closeness of a team until adversity of some kind comes up and challenges you.

“That’s when you really learn about yourself.”

Jenkins was also emphatic in asserting that Pederson hasn’t changed at all, despite some of Pederson’s uncharacteristic public testiness in recent press conferences.

“No, Doug hasn’t changed at all,” said Jenkins, laughing. “Doug is still the same Doug.”

Jenkins also felt the Super Bowl LII sign in the locker room was blown out of proportion. “It wasn’t really a big deal until a reporter asked me about it,” No. 27 said. “Up until that point, I didn’t even look at it. I knew for me, it became this huge media story, when actually, we all met about it and we all generally felt we should move on as a team.

“[The sign] was there all off-season to celebrate. We earned it. As we go into the regular season, it’s time to turn that page. This team didn’t earn that. This is a brand new team that has to do its own thing. The difference is, within every way, we all want to look at last year’s team and project that on this year’s team, even when it comes down individuals.

“This year, with everything we have, will be different than last year. My opinion, I wanted the sign down. But if the guys wanted to keep it up there, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it.”

The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation hosts 5th Annual Blitz, Bow-Ties & Bourbon Charity Fundraiser, Monday, Sept. 10, at 5 p.m. Lincoln Financial Field

The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation is hosting its fifth annual charity event, Blitz, Bow-Ties & Bourbon at Lincoln Financial Field, West VIP Club, Philadelphia, PA on Monday, September 10, 2018. The doors open at 5:30pm for a VIP reception and general admission is from 7:00pm -10:00pm. Blitz, Bow-Ties & Bourbon fundraiser is a stylish evening of premium spirits, notable chef tasting, live performances, and exclusive live and silent auctions benefiting The Malcolm Jenkins Foundation’s youth development and academic enrichment programs.

Get your tickets here.

“This is a great event and it gets bigger and bigger every year,” Jenkins said. “We have a bunch of current and former Eagles coming and it’s going to be a good time.”

Follow Malcolm Jenkins on Twitter @MalcolmJenkins and Facebook at Malcolmjenkinsnfl.

Visit Malcolm's clothing store, Damari SavileBorn 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.