Yesterday afternoon I had the opportunity to speak with Saints starting safety Malcolm Jenkins for a few minutes in advance of tonight's MNF Giants vs. Saints matchup. We talked about the big game, naturally, but I also got his thoughts on the Saints season thus far and even got a little personal. Read on to learn a little more about one of the leaders of this 2011 Saints defenses.
I would like to thank Malcolm for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with me, and wish him all the best tonight vs. the Giants.
Dave Cariello: What did you do with your bye week?
Malcolm Jenkins: I hung around New Orleans for the most part but I did go back up to Columbus (OH). I was celebrating my fraternity's 100 year anniversary (Omega Psi Phi) and I was able to go to the Ohio State vs. Penn State game. So I spent a little bit of time in Columbus, OH and then I got back Sunday afternoon.
Dave: And I'm assuming you watched the big Ohio State vs. Michigan game this Saturday...
Malcolm: Yeah, I did. Unfortunately.
Dave: You guys won seven in a row, I think you can give them one. You'll get them again next year.
Malcolm: It's hard when you win seven in a row. You want that streak to keep going but all streaks must come to an end.
Dave: What will the defense be focusing on most against the Giants this Monday night?
Malcolm: The biggest thing is just limiting the big play, the shots down field. And then tackling. The biggest thing that slips during the bye week, especially defensively, is that you miss a lot of tackles and you get a lot of penalties. That will be the focus. Making sure we secure tackles and don't give them any extra yards. I know they'll try to run the ball so we have to try and stop the run. And when they do take shots down the field we have to be able to keep the ball in front of us.
Dave: Gregg Williams said he knows Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride "inside and out" from his time working with him and coaching against him. Does that give you guys an advantage? Is Gregg extra pumped up for this game?
Malcolm: I'm pretty sure Gregg is. He likes going up against old friends. But just as much as Gregg knows him, he probably knows Gregg just as well.
Dave: I know you guys are aware of the lack of interceptions and turnovers compared to 2009 and you've all been working on turning that around. Is there anything in particular that is different between then and now?
Malcolm: No, we just have to make our catches. I think in 2009 we shocked a lot of people. Gregg Williams' style of defense was new, we had some new pieces so I think we shocked a lot of people. And last year, we got a decent amount of turnovers. It wasn't quite as high. Now, we're just not making the catches. We're around the ball, we're making plays, we're just not catching the ball when it comes. It's just that simple, we just have to make the plays.
Dave: Roman Harper seems to drop the most balls. Do you guys give him a hard time?
Malcolm: It's hard to talk because all of us have had chances this year and we've dropped interceptions. I think as a group we all try and work hard. We really can't mess with each other about it.
Dave: Which defensive player has surprised you most this season with their play?
Malcolm: Patrick Robinson. He showed up. It's really night and day from where he was last year. He's really turned over a new leaf. We're excited about the way he's playing. He's really making a lot of plays. He's got some interceptions, making some good pass breakups and he's really covering about as good as anybody else we have.
Dave: How would you grade your personal performance so far this season?
Malcolm: I'm probably my toughest critic so I would probably give myself a C+. Only because I feel like I could be a little bit more productive. But like I said, I'm very hard on myself. I know I've made the plays that have come. I really haven't had the opportunity to get a bunch of interceptions but it would be nice. I just have to continue to play and those plays will come. And when they do, they'll probably come in bunches.
Dave: Do you think you will play the rest of your career as a safety? Would you ever move back to cornerback?
Malcolm: Right now, I'm really doing it all. They don't lock me in at the cornerback position, they don't lock me in at safety. I play the nickel, I'm moving all around. I think that's really the best situation for me because I get to use all my skill sets. I can blitz, I can cover, I can play back, I have some range and I'm smart enough to make calls in the secondary. I think that will be my role for a long time, just being that versatile guy that can do it all.
Dave: Now that we're deep into the season what effects, if any, do you think the lockout this summer has had on this team?
Malcolm: None. I think we did a great job of preparing during the lockout and getting some work done. There aren't too many areas I can look at and say the lockout affected it. The only thing maybe for some of the young guys is some of the installations. Being able to get all of the plays and go through it maybe three or four times before camp. This year, they had to get it all in camp and keep moving. I think they're finally starting to catch up and it's Week 11.
Dave: If you weren't playing football, what do you think you'd be doing?
Malcolm: Really, I have no idea. Football is really my passion. I would love to think I would use my degree, which is in communications. I like doing public speaking but I don't know if anyone would want to listen to me if I didn't play football, so it kinda goes hand in hand.