New Orleans Saints Safety Malcolm Jenkins
Video Call with New Orleans Media
Thursday, December 3, 2020
Do you put any stock into the Saints having the number one defense stat wise? Or is that just something that comes as a product of you playing?
"The goal is to win games, right? And we know what wins games. Situational football, stopping the run, taking the ball away, certain key areas. Definitely, situational football is a big emphasis for us. So when we look at the numbers, it's really just a snapshot of where we are currently compared to the rest of the league. But we're always competing against our own standards, regardless of what those numbers were. So for us each week, we're just trying to get better. We're deep into the season now and we're still trying to find those small little areas where we can improve as a defense. We look at the numbers just to see where we are comparative to the rest of the league, but we know the formula that wins football games, and that's the main focus."
Do you feel like it was more mental adjustments or physical adjustments that have allowed you guys to slot in defensively and get into the groove?
"I think it's a little bit of both. We got a lot of penalties early. We weren't very sound and everything that we were doing as far as the schematics. So I think our coaches did a great job of getting us to understand the game plan. I think players have done a great job of detailing their jobs, doing a great job of winning their matchups and making the plays that come and being a patient defense and opportunistic as well. Being able to take the ball away, causing disruptions in backend. So all of things we know we could do, but you cannot just go out there and expect it to happen. You have got to work and prepare and I think we have just been improving to get to where we want to be all year."
How confident would you rate the guys on the defensive side of the ball right now, just because it looks like you guys are playing with a lot of swagger these last few weeks?
"We're having fun. We trust each other, trust the scheme and trust that we're prepared. We'll go out there on Sunday, we look forward to the opportunities to compete, and we enjoy doing it. We're having fun doing it. So for us, that's been the formula, continue to prepare, turn every stone throughout the week. And then when we get out there, it's just about having fun, having each other's back and going to compete."
Would you say there was a certain point where you could kind of feel that vibe kind of shift maybe this season or had kind of been there all year?
"I think it definitely took a turn, probably somewhere around the Chicago game, where we just had been trying to grind and get ourselves kind of out of a hole. And that was the week where I think it really just kind of came together as a defense where everybody was playing, winning their matchups, doing what we had to do to win, and then just continue to just stack and build on top of that."
Not your position room obviously, but Trey Hendrickson, I know you haven't been here the whole time that he's been here, but what have you seen from him since you've gotten here?
"Yeah, I mean, even when I went back and watched him on tape as I was trying to get prepared to move into this defense, he was somebody that popped out on the film as a very disruptive player. And so I think this year it's really not a surprise that he's having the success that he is, especially when you're opposite of Cam (Jordan) who can rush the passer, gets a lot of attention. But Trey, he's been taking full advantage of all the opportunities that come and I think that's really all you can ask for as a player. I am excited for the type of season he's having, it's definitely making us better as a defense. But I think he's a special talent and making a name for himself."
Not having to prepare for Alvin Kamara, you see him now like on a first name basis every day, what's made him such a special player, whether it's running the ball, receiving, just being an all-around back?
"Well, I think his versatility is what separates him from the pack. You can't just take him out of the run game and expect to stop him. You've got to make sure that you've got the right matchups and personnel in the pass game. He's making catches out of the backfield, he's lining up at wide receiver, he's got all kinds of plays, he's a patient runner, he's got great balance, great speed, doesn't take a lot of big hits. And so, it's not going to be one of those things where you can really take one player or one scheme and take him out of the game. I think that's what makes him special is that he doesn't really have one strong hand. He's very ambidextrous when it comes to the game."
This year, the balance between your social justice initiatives and your charitable foundation and your football, with the COVID restrictions has it been substantially different than past years when you're able to move about freely?
"Oh, yeah. 100 percent. I think, obviously, the world is adjusting to COVID and that includes the charitable and philanthropic kind of realm. A lot of those fundraisers that we have every year, had to move those to kind of virtual experiences. Even the needs of the community has changed so we're doing a huge thing, focused a lot on education, but this year, with the hurricanes that have come through New Orleans, and obviously people still dealing with COVID, and the financial kind of crisis, it's really been food deserts and to food insecurity. So we're focusing on feeding 504 families in the New Orleans area every month this year. And so that's been a huge pivot for us, but it's been very appropriate given all that's happened this year."