September 27, 2018
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 are 2-1 entering this Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans, but according to Malcolm Jenkins, they’re one or two plays away from being 3-0.
The Eagles, and especially the Eagles’ defense, held up well in their 20-16 victory over the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday. The Eagles held the Colts to 1 of 5 attempts in the red zone, including the game-winning play when Derek Barnett sacked Andrew Luck for a 16-yard loss at the 20 on fourth-and-goal at the Eagles’ four with 1:13 to play.
Philadelphia is tied with Minnesota and Miami in red zone defense, allowing opposing teams to score 33.3 percent (4 of 12) in the red zone, behind NFL leaders Jacksonville and Tennessee, which each has allowed one TD in six red zone attempts (16.7%). The Eagles are second in the NFL behind the Chiefs in third-down conversions, allowing just 10 in 37 attempts (27%), behind Kansas City’s 8-of-31 (25.8%).
The Eagles lead the NFL in rushing defense, giving up an NFL low 185 yards over three games, which translates to an NFL-low 61.7 yards a game, and they’re tied for third in average yards rushing per carry (3.4) behind the New Orleans Saints, who give up an NFL-low 3.0 yards per carry, though the Saints yield an NFL-high 15 yards per catch.
“In the red zone, on third down, we dominated," Jenkins said. "On offense, we doubled them in time of possession [40:20 to 19:40]. We outgained them in rushing yards, in passing yards, yet in the end, we were still holding on. When you look at the reason why, it’s simply turnovers anDeleted one big penalty [the 33-yard interference call on Jalen Mills in the first quarter], which I thought was a bad call."
But there are a few major concerns for Jenkins and the Eagles. One is penalties. The Eagles are the third-most penalized team in the NFL, with 30 accepted penalties against them, behind Kansas City (33), Pittsburgh (32) and Baltimore (32). In yards penalized, they’re sixth, with 256 yards, behind NFL leader Baltimore, which has been flagged for 312 yards. The other is turnovers. The Eagles are minus-3 in giveaway/takeaways, which places them 29th overall in the NFL through the first three weeks.
“There were a lot of mistakes that we made [in the 20-16 Indianapolis victory], but obviously having Carson [Wentz] back makes us a better team,” Jenkins said. “I thought we did a great job running the ball. The biggest thing to me, I guess, and I have to still look at the tape, is when you look at all of the statistics, we dominated the game [379 total yards to the Colts’ 209].
“We can do all of those good things and it can be all for naught
if we don’t take care of the football, and if we don’t take it away and we
don’t protect it. I know the two big emphasis of this week is protection of the
ball and cutting down on the penalties [10 for 110 yards vs. the Colts]. We’ve
always been a good run defense, and part of that is we have a really, really
good front. We put a big emphasis on rushing the passer, and our priority is to
stop the run, to first and foremost and make teams one dimensional. Then, put
our ears back and rush the passer.
“It’s what we need to do this week against Tennessee. They’re a tough team and well coached. Mike Vrabel is a good guy, he’s an Ohio State guy [where Jenkins played], with a defensive mind. [The Titans] are going to play good defense and run the ball, so we’ll have to make sure we get after the run game and Derrick Henry, who’s heavy and tough to bring down, and a quarterback like [Marcus] Mariota, who’s mobile. They’re a handful.
“Jacksonville came off a big win against the Patriots and were playing at home, so for the Titans to beat them 9-6 at their place says a lot.
“The only difference between our games with Tampa Bay and Indianapolis was my play against Tampa, which was uncharacteristic, and won’t happen again, and look at our red zone defense, when they scored twice. The difference to me was making one of two plays. If I made that play on the very first play of the game against Tampa, we win. If someone tackles O.J. Howard, before he took off on that long touchdown, we win. If played like we normally play in the red zone, we win that game.
“We don’t overact to things. We play a fast tempo, we understand the defense we play. When we execute, we win.”
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