I know—it’s still early. It’s very early, in fact. The NFL season is only two weeks old, but it’s been full of surprises to this point.
A lot of players across the league have stepped up, and have helped their team do things no one would’ve imagined. But not many have done as much as Kris Jenkins has for this New York Jets’ team.
I want you all to remember how big of a question mark he was coming out of Carolina. Some of us didn’t believe he could play in the 3-4, no matter how big he was. NFL experts and analysts also believed that Jenkins was on the decline, didn’t love football anymore, and that the Jets would struggle with his strong personality.
Two weeks into the season, and all of the potential knocks on Jenkins’ abilities have been wrong. He has been the difference maker for this defense. Jenkins’ presence is the reason this team has established an early ability to rush the quarterback, and stop the run.
And as the season goes on, he’s only going to become more dominant.
Kris Jenkins was acquired from Carolina at the very start of the offseason to play a position he hasn’t had experience with since his rookie year. The former All-Pro was believed to be on the back-end of his career as he voiced his displeasure with the Panthers’ franchise. There were knocks on his size as he neared 400-pounds, and some believed he was too large to play at the same level he had earlier in his career.
Packaging 3rd-and-5th round draft picks for his services, Jenkins has done exactly what’s expected of someone his size in this defensive scheme. The Jets demanded that he maintain a weight of 360-pounds, and Kris Jenkins has been what the Jets needed through these first two weeks of play.
He’s recorded eight tackles and one sack thus far, but his presence alone has allowed for the rest of the team to apply the kind of pressure that makes the 3-4 defense work!
Since implementing the 3-4 with Eric Mangini, the Jets’ defense allowed 4.6 yards-per-carry in 2006, and 4.2 yards-per-carry in 2007. With Jenkins in the middle, that number is down to 3.1. Shipping Dewayne Robertson off to Denver for a bag of Frito’s, and an old Broncos hat left in the parking lot, has allowed Jets’ fans to see how effective this defense can be with a true big man in the middle.
To quote the evil Bill Belichick, “Jenkins is a force in there. There is no doubt about it.”
Aside from Kris Jenkins, I have also identified four of my other favorites for the league’s Comeback Player of the Year honors: NFL: Five Early Favorites for Comeback Player of the Year—check it out if you have the time.