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Transcript - Malcolm Jenkins Conference Call 1/7/21 | NFC Wild Card 2020

New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins talks about the Bears offense, Terron Armstead on Thursday, January 7, 2021.

New Orleans Saints Safety Malcolm Jenkins
Video Call with New Orleans Media
Thursday, January 7, 2021

Yesterday, Terron (Armstead) was named your team's Ed Block Courage Award winner, and I just wanted to ask you what that means just knowing everything that he's been through on and off the field this season?
"Yeah, I mean, the amount of respect that Terron has in this locker room from peers, the coaching staff, I think is incomparable to anybody. So I think there's nobody more deserving, obviously, all things that he does that to get back on the field and keep his body together and what he means not only our offense, but our team, I think it's a great selection, and definitely well deserved."

I wanted to ask you what have you seen from that Bears offense that maybe it's changed or evolved since the last time you guys played them earlier this year?
"Well, I think they're just complimenting their offensive scheme really well. You already had the runs that are little bit difficult to deal with, because they got jet motions and tight end swaps, and all these things that distract you. And then it's hitting downhill, they got a really good running back (David Montgomery) who can run through contact, it's good balance, and can follow blocks. But I think the biggest part is they've been doing a lot more movement passes and play actions to stay, or to marry with that run game. And it makes it really hard, especially if you have undisciplined eyes, it keeps them ahead of the sticks, it makes it easy for the quarterback to just get the ball out of his hands or give him a run option. And so we're going to have to deal with a lot of that movement and be able to get them into situations where you have to go to drop back. So that means that we've got to stop the run. And that means we'll have to have discipline eyes when they hit us with play actions and really make them get into a spread out, drop back game."

You guys finished tied for the league lead in interceptions this year. Just curious if you could explain why you think that is. If it's like combination of scheme and ability or any one individual thing. And then if you could kind of break down what you saw on that interception in the end zone last week?
"Yeah, as far as the interceptions as a group, that's one of our goals is to turn the ball over as many times as we can. And that just means taking advantage of the opportunities that come. I think you can ask anybody in our room, we felt like we dropped way too many this year. And so that's been a point of emphasis. That's part talent and scheme. But as far as the one play from this past week, it's just a simple combination route that the majority of teams have when they're running a double post. And I was just able to slip into that second window as that deep defender."

A lot has been made about how offensively the team is getting back to full strength, but the secondary and the defense is getting there too with Marcus (Williams) coming back to practice and C.J. (Gardner-Johnson) potentially coming back and P-Rob (Patrick Robinson) being almost ready to come back. How big is that for you as we move down the playoffs here?
"That's huge. In the games that are most important, and you need, you want your best players on the field. So anytime you get guys of that caliber to come back into the lineup, it makes us better as a unit. We've had a lot of people step up in the rotation over the last few weeks. But to have your best guys out there in the games that count the most is what you want. So obviously we're excited for that."

Is the kind of atmosphere in the locker room at all comparable (or is it) different to the atmosphere that you experienced in Philadelphia during some of those playoff runs this year, or even like some of the earlier playoff teams in New Orleans for you?
"The vibe in the locker room is very similar. We're not going to make a huge deal out of it being football, we don't have to change up anything or now all of a sudden it's the playoffs and we do something special. It's like, no, just do what you've been doing better and do the simple things better than everybody else. I've said this many times and this is what I always tell people around the playoffs and things like that is that the game, the rules (and) the field is the same, the football is the same, just do what you have been doing to win games. The only thing different are all the things outside of the field, more fans (and) more cameras, bigger stakes, but the task and what wins football's always the same. On defense, we want to take the ball away, keep scoring down, (and) win the situations. On offense, you score more points than the other team. And so for us, it is just not doing anything different as far as our process. It has gotten us to this point, and it'll get us through if we just continue to do our jobs."

You've played the entire regular season to get the best possible seed you can have for home-field advantage. Obviously, that's going to look a little different this year, with only 3000 fans in the stands. Is there something else that you can do to help create some home-field advantage with creating the energy yourself? Or is that just something that's going to be a little weird this year?
"Well, I think we've all had to get used to not having the type of fans that we have in the stadiums around the country. It's been weird, but I think we've all adjusted to it. The Superdome in particular has always been a place that has created a really definitive home-field advantage when it comes to noise. But we've obviously grown accustomed to not having that this year. And so yeah, it's on us to create the energy, but we feel like we play with a lot of juice, we've got enough guys to create the energy and the way you create that energy is you play well, you execute and when you're making plays, it's easy to create that momentum. But no, we won't have, unfortunately, our crowd behind us like we normally do, but I think we'll be fine."

Do you feel like you've played the perfect game yet, like this team's ascending or just where do you feel like you are right now going into the playoffs?
"I don't know if I believe in a perfect game. But I think we've played some complete games this year. And I think heading into the playoffs we feel good about being balanced, having an attack that is not just a good offense or strong defense, but really clicking on all three cylinders, special teams, defense and offense are really working together. And I think that's a good sign moving into the playoffs. I think we're built to last, but for us, it is really all about the Chicago Bears. We played this team earlier this year. So we are very familiar. We think they match up well and that will be a tough game. So really, all the resources in our minds are built on how do we win this week? That's obviously the only one we're guaranteed."

Several weeks ago you mentioned compared to the other two Super Bowl teams you've been a part of here and in Philadelphia that there was a different feel to this year's Saints team. Heading into the playoffs this week, specifically, how do you reflect on that? And how does this sort of week feel different than other teams you've been a part of in the playoffs?
"Well, I think what's different probably about this team is that this is really the first one where in the offseason and going into the preseason, you pretty much know that we're going to be a postseason team. We still had to go earn it and figure out which seed, but we knew we're talented enough to be here. And we've been here, obviously, the last few years. I think the challenge we face now is that we don't assume that just because now we're here in the playoffs, that this isn't just a journey to the Super Bowl, we have got to be right here, right now. Chicago Bears are the only thing we can be focused on. And we know everybody wants to feed us the narrative about not taking care of things in the playoffs, not being able to get to that big game. The easiest way to fall right into that narrative is to be looking down the road at what our goals are, especially the closer and closer that we creep up to them. So as a leader on this team, my message really just has been, obviously one game at a time, one practice at a time, doing everything that you can to beat the Chicago Bears. (The) Rest of those things play itself out, but I think we're excited for the opportunity to be in a tournament obviously."

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