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Transcript - Malcolm Jenkins Conference Call 1/14/21 | NFC Divisional Round 2020

New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins talks about Tampa Bay’s quarterback Tom Brady and the preparations for the Saints divisional playoff matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, January 17, 2021.

New Orleans Saints Safety Malcolm Jenkins
Video Call with Local Media
Thursday, January 14, 2021

Two of Tom Brady's worst games of the year where the two against you guys. What would you say you guys were able to do to sort of disrupt him a little bit?
"Well, the first game I thought was pretty close, we battled back and forth, got a couple big plays. Marcus Williams had the interception, that was good. And we also had a pick six in that game. Second game was a little bit, obviously, it's totally different, took a life of its own, between our offense scoring points. And then, you know, us being real stingy early in the game, they had to abandon the run and really become one-sided. So, that was really a different game. So, we can't expect the same thing. But I do think that we matched up well when it comes to their skill, obviously, on defense. And our offense, you know, does what they do, but we don't expect it to be the same team. This team, we've watched them, they've gotten better from week one to the second time we played them till now. Over the last five, six weeks, they've been really taking off, especially offensively. So, we don't expect it to be the same game. But obviously, we're very confident in our matchups."

How have you seen their offense evolve? From game one to game two to as you've been watching film for their games since then?
"Yeah, when you take, watch all the other games outside of the breakdown, you take our games out of it, they're putting up close to 400 yards of passing, almost every week. You know, Gronk (Rob Gronkowski) has gotten more involved, AB (Antonio Brown) has gotten more involved. Mike Evans has been steady and (Chris) Godwin is just somebody who I think can always win (a battle) and get them a good conversion and make plays. They've done a good job of mixing in the run, but they beat you with that pass game. And Tom's (Brady) been clean, you keep him upright, you keep him in the pocket, he's the greatest to ever do it. But if you can disrupt him and get some hits on him."

Yeah, you mentioned the receivers that they have, wanted to ask you, do you think that because of the way the last game played out that, you know, there may be a little extra motivation for that group to kind of come out and have a better showing?
"Well, I hope to motivate, well, I mean, the winner goes to the NFC Championship. I would think that would be enough motivation. I know it is for us. And obviously being in the division, knowing them well, there's going to be plenty of things to get motivated by."

I know there's a lot of reasons that go into why guys like Drew Brees and Tom Brady have played for as long as they have, but I'm curious what your opinion is on just like their nature as competitors, even if it that's stuff that manifests off the field, like you know, beating you at ping pong or something like that?
"Well you know, I think you know, Drew's (Brees) made his little quarterback challenges that they do every day, you know, in practice you know, that has been well documented. It's the constant competition and being able to work on the skill set. Tom (Brady) the same thing, I think, you know, his regimen and his training, all of those things have been documented. And I think that the older and older these guys get, the more and more they lean on their experience, their understanding of the game. You know, I watch Drew (Brees) all the time in practice, just kind of off to himself, you know, you can tell he's going through plays in his mind. And literally, you know, in his stance and there's nobody around, he's just doing stuff in his head. And those mental reps you know, you see play out throughout the game when they seem like they can anticipate coverage, they can, you know, get the ball there in time. All of those things make them the players that they are, it's not just, you know, by accident, they work real hard and stick to, kind of their process."

I don't know if you remember it happening this offseason, but like when there was nothing else going on, (Tom) Brady had that golf tournament thing with Peyton Manning and like everybody was talking smack on him and he pulled one out from like 80 yards or something like that. It just seems like maybe it's just a little bit different, but maybe that's just like a competitor thing, I guess, I don't know?
"Oh, I mean, yeah. It's not, you know, when you're a competitor, it's not something you turn of and I think you see that when you do get them kind of outside of the realm of football and just anything else. They're definitely competitors in everything and that's not a muscle you can turn off."

Both Drew (Brees) and Sean (Payton) said this week, just by knowing how good Tampa was this season, playing them in the playoffs almost feels expected? Like that was something that was probably going to happen? Do you feel that way too?
"Yeah, I think, you know, in the back of our minds, even after the last time we played them, we were sure that we'd see that team again, at some point, or at least it was going to be a good chance of it. So, I don't think we're surprised that we're in this space. You know, and I don't think we'd have it any other way. It's exciting. It's hard, really, really hard to beat a team twice. So obviously, times that by a few. And it's really hard to beat a team three times, but especially with the firepower that they have. For us and where we want to go, I think that just adds context to the story, and we look forward to the challenge."

I'm curious, what has been your impression of both Coach Payton and Drew Brees, having been there left, come back? Where have you seen those guys elevate their game, especially in the postseason?
"Well, I think the biggest thing is just the ability to adapt. Obviously, Drew (Brees), has had to adapt his game as he's gotten older, just to be able to, to match his skill set, but also the changing kind of threats that he's had, you know, back from when I was here, you had the Colston's, the Jimmy Graham's, and all of those. And it was Sproles and Brandin Cooks, now you got Mike T (Thomas), Alvin Kamara. Those weapons have changed over the years. And between Sean (Payton) and Drew (Brees), just the ability to gameplan, based off of your skillset, and even when, Drew (Brees) was out for a period this year, and even last year, the ability to create game plans that can be executed by whoever's in the game. Whether it's Taysom (Hill), and in that stretch when we were running the ball really, really well. So, being able to win in different ways, to me is the most impressive thing. And that's what creates that longevity, when you talk about success of a program, being able to sustain over the years, is the ability to adapt, and give yourself the best chance to win games."

We also talked this week, a little bit about the culture and how Drew (Brees) couldn't have anticipated early on in his career, that there would be a nightclub in the postgames. But, how important is just some of that culture? There is so much thought that goes into making sure you bring the speakers and the smoke machine on the road and making sure it's loud enough that the opponent hears it. Again, you've been in a locker room, a part of a winning program. How important is that culture? Have we underestimated that here in New Orleans?
"Well, I think, you know, even internally, like, that's new for me, when I came back here, those are things that we did not do when I was here before. So again, the ability to adjust to new personalities, a younger team that is not as traditional as the things that we used to do. But, understanding what motivates your team, right? What gives them juice, what allows them to play loose, allows them to keep their same personalities? And I think that's one thing that Sean Payton's done since I've known him, is just really being able to manage individual personalities without making anybody feel like they can't be themselves. And, you know, that's from all the way from your Jeremy Shockey's to Roman Harper's all the way to now your, you know, Alvin Kamara's and CJ (Gardner-Johnson), and other guys like that. We got a lot of strong personalities on this team, but I feel like everybody's able to be themselves. And that creates a culture where everybody's bought in and everybody is headed in the same direction."

I apologize if this is like something you have answered a billion times this year, but how long did it take you to really feel comfortable in this defense? Like, I know you've played a ton of football, you've played with DA (Dennis Allen) before. But like with no offseason and coming into a new team, like when do you feel like that started to click really for you specifically?
"For me specifically, I don't think I really had a full grasp on kind of the entire defense or like I normally have, probably until we played Chicago the first time whenever that was. So, that was a few weeks and it took, a minute to be on the field with those same guys, to receive those live reps and get a feel for how everyone around me how they play and that's important to my game. So it definitely, without an offseason, took a little bit longer than normal to pick those things up. But also think, you know, just as a whole, we were trying to figure that out, you know, in the beginning of the season, but since then it's really the, once it did get kind of locked in and everybody's on the same page, what we've been able to add, what we've been able to adjust throughout a year has really given us the chance to improve as a defense and have success like we have."

What kind of goes into that for you, like, is that conversations with you and DA, is that you just like taking extra time with your teammates on the field? How do you get from where you started to where you started to feel really good?
"Well yeah, it takes a lot of collaboration, whether it's conversations with DA (or) Aaron Glenn, (who) I think was really instrumental to that, being able to as a 12 year veteran, sometimes there's not much that I feel like, more oftentimes, I feel like there's not much to be taught or learned. But he's done a great job of really being able to teach me new things in new ways of how to play certain coverages, that I think has made me a better player and helped me improve as well. But then also just for myself being open to doing different things and fitting more into the defense, but I think they've also created packages and plays that really highlight my skillset. And so, I think a combination of all of those things have really helped me out and really got me adjusted to the defense, but it's also helped us as a defense in general."

Drew (Brees) turns 42 tomorrow. Can you imagine playing football for eight, nine more years?
"No, I'm just turning 33 (last month), I don't think anybody wants to see me playing football at 42."

And then a second part of that. And it is not that he is just playing at 42, right. He's playing well at 42. I guess, what does that say about him, that even though he may be, you know, the resident, one of the resident old men of the league, but he's still playing at such a high caliber?
"Yeah, the obvious thing that happens when you get older is you physically can't do the same things that you did, when you were in your 20s. Time is unforgiving for everybody. And so, the way you offset, that is to really sharpen your understanding of the game, the cerebral part of football. And the ones who last as long as he has, know how to take care of their body. But more importantly, they know how to mentally win the game and the game becomes so much less about the physical attributes, and more about what's going on between your ears. And it's been really impressive to see him play at such a high level for so long."

I'm already enjoying seeing Marshon Lattimore get on social media and preview this matchup again with Mike Evans, what do you think of Marshon's play and just even, just his personality on the field?
"Yeah, when I first got here, I told him, I want to see him be considered the best corner in this league. And I think he has a skillset, I think he has a mentality. And his thing's being consistent against the guys who aren't the premier receivers. Because when it is those big time matchups, that's when you see him locked in. And I think, you know, this is probably one of his favorite matchups. Just because Mike Evans is somebody who, you know, is well-renowned in this league, big body, makes a lot of plays, and Latt (Marshon Lattimore) really does enjoy those matchups. So, I'm sure he'll be locked in. He's got that attitude that we want in the defense, where there's no fear. He wants to press and challenge and that's what you want out of your number one corner. And we are definitely going to need that, if we want to have some success."

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