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What value will Malcolm Jenkins bring back to the Saints?

Two-time Super Bowl champion is back in the black and gold

NFL: Super Bowl LII-Philadelphia Eagles Press Conference Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints came into the 2020 NFL off-season looking to add more pieces to their already robust championship-caliber roster. Drew Brees swayed away from the league’s top quarterback market value. He took a team-friendly deal, 2 year-50 million dollar contract so that the reigning NFC South champs could seek out more help in free agency during his last remaining years of Super Bowl aspirations. Sean Payton gladly used their cap space to address the other side of the ball, so he went out and signed former Saint and Eagle Safety, Malcolm Jenkins, to a 4 year-32 million dollar contract.

Malcolm Jenkins will bring his talents back to the Big Easy, where he won a Super Bowl in 2010. Jenkins’s leadership and poise will benefit a young Saints secondary that were ranked 19th in passing yards allowed last year but’s been notorious for folding in big playoff games. Jenkins isn’t only an intense beacon of experience; the safety is still highly productive. He recorded a career-high amount of forced fumbles last year (4), to go with eight pass deflections last season. Malcolm Jenkins, who’s beaten Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the Super Bowl, should have the Saints secondary prepared to do whatever it takes to bring another Lombardi back to New Orleans.

Jenkins’s presence will contribute volumes of guidance to the Saints young defensive back group. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore is 24 years old, free safety Marcus Williams is 23 years old, and free safety/strong safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is 22 years old. They are all vital pieces that could reap the leadership that Jenkins has to offer. Former defensive rookie of the year, Marshon Lattimore’s inconsistent performances thus far in his early career have been tied to his lack of personal effort. The other fourth-year defensive back, Marcus Williams’s problem lies with his focus. His focus in the back end has inevitably been showcased in the “Minneapolis Miracle” in the 2017 divisional round and his face mask penalty against George Kittle in last year’s week 14 showdown. The extra yardage from the penalty where Williams grabbed Kittle’s face mask because Kittle beat Chauncey Gardner-Johnson badly, gave the 49ers excellent field goal position to seal the victory with no time remaining. Jenkins should have his locker placed next to the Saints young, talented, defensive backs, so his experience quickly rubs off.

Jenkins isn’t only a gifted player on the field. He’s a special person off the field. Malcolm Jenkins joined CNN on June 15th as a contributor, to speak on national affairs related to social issues and racism. Regardless of the political ally you fall on; You have to give props to a very wealthy NFL player who wants to be uplifting and help struggling communities prosper across this nation.

Jenkins is expected to start for the Saints secondary that likes to feature three safeties in their base front. Malcolm Jenkins, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, and Marcus Williams will be able to see the field and contribute at the same time. Jenkins’s flexibility should allow these safeties to thrive in their best spots. Jenkins has so much to offer in multiple areas for a Dennis Allen coordinated defense that likes to give different looks and be very aggressive.

Contributing in multiple positions

*Pro Football Focus tracked these notable positions for Malcolm Jenkins in 2019
  • Free Safety-208 snaps
  • box-431 snaps
  • slot cornerback-266
  • defensive line-158 snaps

Malcolm Jenkins was proven to be the ultimate chess piece for Eagles defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz, last season. Jenkins played his most snaps in the box where he came up to attack tight ends and blitz off the edge to pressure quarterbacks in the face. Jenkins had a career-high 9 qb hits last season and career-high 4 forced fumbles last season.

Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro’s role was prioritized in the box for the Saints in his two seasons under Dennis Allen from 2016-2017. Vaccaro had trouble staying on the field due to injuries and suspensions, so a departure was inevitable when his contract expired. However, Vaccaro did find success by being utilized in the box by Dennis Allen. Vaccaro had a career-high 7 tackles for loss in just 12 games during his 2017 season, according to Pro Football Reference. Jenkins could look to get more than seven tackles for loss, for only the 2nd time in his career, under Allen’s aggressive philosophy with safeties. Jenkins is already thrilled to know from experience that Dennis Allen(saints defensive backs coach 2008-2010) is trigger happy with excessive blitz packages from the safety position. They performed many packages together under former Saints defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, in their Super Bowl days.

Jenkins will provide more than a capable chess piece of playmaking for Dennis Allen’s defense. Jenkins can be the Saints secondary leader who gives more guidance and intensity on the big stage. The Saints secondary hasn’t had a veteran voice who breathes playoff experience. That’s been reflected negatively on the field during the playoff contests against the Vikings twice and the Rams; the opponents were down and shouldn’t have come back.

Super Bowl and playoff experience

NFL: Super Bowl LII-Philadelphia Eagles vs New England Patriots Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Veteran Safety, Malcolm Jenkins has had a very rich playing career, as he’s been through the highs and lows of many playoff games. Jenkins has been to 12 playoff games, so he has plenty of experience to share. Saints defensive backs, Marshon Lattimore, Chauncey Gardner Johnson, and Marcus Williams combine for 11 playoff contests. Malcolm Jenkins garnered more playoff experience, but he’s won two Super Bowls, and he’s 1 of 3 current Saints to be featured from the Saints 2010 Super Bowl roster.

Malcolm Jenkins returns to join quarterback, Drew Brees and punter, Thomas Morstead as the only current Saints from the Saints 2010 Super Bowl roster.

Jenkins will know how to keep his composure and uplift his play to the highest playoff intensity mandated. Malcolm Jenkins, who’s been on a defense that’s fallen in dire agony during the last seconds of a playoff game, like against the San Francisco 49ers in 2011. He’s also found a way to beat two of the greatest quarterbacks in the Super Bowl, Peyton Manning in 2010 and Tom Brady in 2017. Malcolm Jenkins is the type of defensive leader that will welcome a challenge on any stage from Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson. Jenkins has been around long enough to say that he’s edged out the elite quarterbacks of this decade. The young defensive backs on the Saints have not played at a high level of competition against elite competition. The Saints pass defense has allowed Jared Goff and Jimmy Garapollo to shred it apart during playoff games and big regular season games in the last two years. Thankfully, Malcolm Jenkins was signed for a lot of money to step in and contribute quality play.

Upgrade over Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Saints former safety Vonn Bell

Malcolm Jenkins will step on the field and make an immediate impact. His production is still superior at age 32 and he’s shown no signs of being washed up. He will provide a significant upgrade over former Saint, Vonn Bell and current Saint, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. Here’s the notable 2019 statistics shown from Pro Football Reference between Vonn Bell, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, and Malcolm Jenkins:

Malcolm Jenkins:

  • 6.9% missed tackle rate
  • passer rating when targeted: 80.5
  • completion percentage allowed: 62.5 %

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson:

  • 7.5% missed tackle rate
  • passer rating when targeted: 93.6
  • completion percentage allowed: 70.6%

Vonn Bell:

  • 9.2% missed tackle rate
  • passer rating when targeted: 98.9
  • completion percentage allowed: 68.6%

Jenkins is marked as an upgrade over former starting safety, Vonn Bell, and 2nd-year safety, CGJ (Chauncey Gardner-Johnson). It comes with good reason as the Saints are paying more than what they would have for Bell, and CGJ was only a rookie last year. Jenkins’s craft and playmaking ability are superior at 32 years old, not only when it comes to tackling opposing players but also excelling beyond Bell and CGJ in pass coverage. His talents should provide dividends when it comes time to face off against elite tight ends crossing the middle of the field like Rob Gronkowski twice, George Kittle, and Travis Kelce this upcoming season.

Sean Payton couldn’t ask for a better reunion with a player who brings an elite status of play on the field, and first-class acts off the field. Jenkins will fit in very well with a defense that’s talented and surrounded by positive voices. Cameron Jordan is a captain and All-Pro on the defensive line. At the same time, Demario Davis is a captain and first-team All-Pro as a linebacker, so the Saints should add another stature of high rank to the secondary. That piece was cemented with the addition of Malcolm Jenkins. Expect Malcolm Jenkins to show no signs of slowing down as Drew Brees and Malcolm Jenkins aim to bring another Lombardi trophy back to New Orleans.


Was bringing Malcolm Jenkins back the right move?

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