It’s rare for Jim Schwartz to talk about a player who’s no longer here.
He made an exception for Malcolm Jenkins.
Boy, did he ever.
Schwartz was asked Tuesday morning about Jenkins, who returns to the Linc this weekend with the Saints, and what he meant to the Eagles and to Schwartz during their four years together.
“He was so efficient at doing his job that if he made a mistake it was like once a year,” Schwartz said. “Other players will make a couple mistakes a game. (He did) very, very, very rarely. If he did, it was like, ‘News flash’ that he had a missed assignment or wasn’t in the right spot. He was just that player that always did the right thing.”
Schwartz spoke for three minutes and raved about Jenkins, who made three Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl in his six years with the Eagles before the Eagles let him walk this past offseason.
“Versatility was amazing with Malcolm,” Schwartz said. “He played seven different positions on defense here and he knew all 11. He knew all 11 like a coach, was a great set of eyes on the field for me, incredibly honest player, always did his job. …
“He was really good at weathering any storm, always remained calm, he knew when to turn it up and when to give his fellow teammates confidence. I’ve thought a lot over the years of all the great players that I coached and things like that and Malcolm certainly goes right up there. He’s probably the smartest player that I ever coached and leadership-wise you take all those (smartest) players, if he was on that he’d probably be elected team captain. I can’t have any more praise. I get in trouble for praising players, but that guy certainly meant a lot to me personally, he meant to our defense and our team.”
Jenkins, 32, has played well this year – he’s got two interceptions, two sacks, four tackles for loss, 62 tackles – and the Saints bring the No. 1 defense in the NFL to the Linc on Sunday.
Schwartz illustrated Jenkins’ football IQ with a moment from one of the two Seahawks games last year – he didn’t say which – where Jenkins did something he doesn’t recall any other player ever doing.
”He heard the offensive line say something about a look that that we had, he came to the sideline and said, ‘Schwartz, next third down call this. I guarantee we’re going to get a sack.’ And I had so much trust in him the next third down I called it and it happened exactly the way that he said and we got the sack but it was all just because of what he heard. He heard the offensive line talking about the next time we get that look this is what we have to do. That’s rare in a player. That’s rare No. 1 that he can understand what the offense is doing so well and can decipher things like that.
“I’ve probably gone on too long here, but I think a player of that stature and career and what he meant to us here deserves that kind of respect. … He doesn’t play for us anymore, I root like crazy for him 15 games a year but not going to be rooting for him on Sunday,” he said. “We’ll try our best to go after him, he’ll try his best to go after us, and that’s the way the NFL is.”
Schwartz would never come out and say he wanted the Eagles to keep Jenkins, but you don’t have to do a lot of reading between the lines to understand how he feels.
The Eagles let Jenkins walk without as much as a token contract offer as part of some sort of youth movement that never really took shape.
They clearly miss him not only on the field but in the locker room, and the decision to get rid of an all-time Eagles great sure looks like another disastrous move by Howie Roseman.
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