Late in the second quarter in Week 1, Timmy Jernigan picked up his first full sack in nearly two years, started celebrating, realized the Redskins were in their hurry-up offense, got back across the line and then finished his celebration.
He rotated his index fingers in circles around his ears.
Just found the best part of the #Eagles opener.— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaroNBCS) September 12, 2019
Timmy Jernigan gets a sack, starts celebrating, realizes the Skins are in hurry-up, gets back across the line and finishes his celebration. pic.twitter.com/KzLc9UC2y9
“Go loco,” Jernigan said smiling Thursday. “Go crazy.”
Yeah, Timmy Jernigan is back.
After an ankle injury late in 2017 and that scary back injury last year, Jernigan is now as healthy as he’s been in nearly two years. That comes just in the nick of time too, because Malik Jackson is out for the rest of the season with a Lisfranc injury. Jernigan is a starting defensive tackle again.
It might sound silly, but there’s one way his teammates know Jernigan is really back: He’s dancing again.
After plays, during practice, on the sideline, Jernigan is always letting his unique personality fly. Jim Schwartz once said Jernigan meant something to the spirit of their defense. It’s pretty clear he brings the juice.
“He’s just Timmy,” his battery mate Fletcher Cox said. “He’s always got his own vibe. He’s always smiling and having fun and just being Timmy. It always keeps the guys going.”
One of their young teammates on the practice squad, Bruce Hector, said when the defensive line huddles up on game days, it’s Jernigan who is always in the middle, dancing. “Then after that, he’s always on the sideline dancing,” Hector said.
Jernigan is just being himself, but he said he knows it rubs off on his teammates.
While Jernigan was still his fun-loving self last year, he wasn’t really all the way back. He was able to somehow play late in the 2018 season and in the playoffs, but did so after working out just a couple of times. This offseason, it’s been a lot different. And he’s worked hard to get to where he is.
There’s no question the Eagles will miss Jackson, who was brought here to be a pass-rush specialist from the DT position. But having Jernigan definitely helps soften that blow.
“Timmy’s flying around, he’s having fun,” Cox said. “He’s got a lot to prove, a lot of people counted him out. He worked his butt off all offseason, all training camp and everything. I’m excited for him. It sucks for Malik because we had a pretty good rotation going. But [Jernigan has] been in a position where he started the whole season, started the Super Bowl, he knows what it takes to win a football game.”
Hassan Ridgeway has been with the Eagles since late April, but he already knows that it’s Jernigan who gets his teammates going. Ridgeway explained that Jernigan works to amp himself up, but then it gets the rest of the defensive line going too.
Without Jackson, it’s also possible Jernigan gets on the field for a few more pass-rushing situations. He’s never had more than five sacks in a season and he has just 3 1/2 since the Eagles traded for him before the 2017 season, but that was a big one he picked up on Sunday. Even though the Redskins were able to get a field goal out of that drive, Jernigan thinks it gave the Eagles’ defense some momentum.
And it was his first full sack since Nov. 19, 2017, so you’ll understand why he wanted to celebrate. He’s been through a heckuva lot since then.
“I had to snap out of it in the moment,” Jernigan said about realizing he needed to get onside.
That meant we didn’t get to see the full “Timmy’s shimmy” as Schwartz called it, a term that left Jernigan near speechless. “Coach Schwartz,” he said, lowering his giggling face into his massive palm.
Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.