Philadelphia Eagles: Malcolm Jenkins is the Week 5 answer at cornerback

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

With only three cornerbacks headed into Week 5, the Philadelphia Eagles should shift Malcolm Jenkins back to his college position against the New York Jets.

The Philadelphia Eagles have a cornerback problem.

I get it, I get it, Deja Vu, this is far from an original take, but as the team’s not-locally-televised Week 5 bout against the New York Jets inches closer and closer, the situation becomes more and more dire.

Just for context, the Eagles will likely have only one cornerback from their opening day roster on the field come Sunday in frequently-burned reserve Rasul Douglas, with their other two starters – Orlando Scandrick and Craig James – being signed within the last two weeks.

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James has been released twice so far this season, and despite deflecting a game-saving Aaron Rodgers pass into Nigel Bradham‘s hands, he’s far from a long-term answer even in a secondary like the Eagles.

And Scandrick? Outside of a canceled tryout with the Houston Texans, the 10-year vet has received no interest over the first month of the season and could very well have spent the entirety of 2019 season on the couch after failing to make the Eagles’ opening day roster.

Add it all together, and the Eagles may trot out the worst starting cornerback trio in franchise history when the Jets make the drive down the Jersey turnpike to Lincoln Financial Field.


Now granted, the Eagles are hardly facing off against a prolific offensive assaults in the Luke Falk-led Jets, but still, with a non-existent pass rush and a barren secondary that just lost Johnathan Cyprien, there’s a chance that Adam Gase could creatively torch an Eagles’ defense that could frequently be in a personnel disadvantage.

But fortunately for fans in Philly huddling in a Buffalo Wild Wings to catch the game, the Birds already have a solution on their roster to help take the load off their recent signees: Shift Malcolm Jenkins back to cornerback.

Yes Malcolm Jenkins, the absolute steal of 2014 free agency who came into the NFL as a first-round cornerback before transitioning back into the slot after a rookie season capped off with his first Super Bowl victory. While the do-it-all safety has taken to his new position like a fish to water and has been at his most effective while deployed close to the line of scrimmage as a strong safety, Jenkins was almost exclusively used as the Birds’ primary slot corner of the back half of the Chip Kelly tenure – remaining in the role until Ron Brooks mercifully took up the role in 2016.

While Jim Schwartz has been less keen on dropping Jenkins into the slot in the nickel exclusively – instead relying on an ever-changing collection of players like Brooks, Patrick Robinson, Sidney Jones, Cre’von LeBlanc, and Avonte Maddox – number 27 has steadily earned snaps at pretty much every position across the Eagles’ back seven – playing everywhere from deep safety, to slot, to even dime linebacker.

Even without Cyprien, who only played 15 snaps on defense over the first four weeks of the season, the Eagles still have much better depth at the position, with Rodney McLeod cemented at free safety, Andrew Sendejo slotted into Jenkins typical position at strong safety, and special teams ace Rudy Ford an intriguing option on as a change-up coming off the bench (62 defensive snaps since 2017).

The Eagles could even go so far as to shift starting weakside linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill back to his college position of safety if things go south – the role he played at Eastern Illinois alongside future 49ers starter Jimmy Garoppolo.

Conversely, the Eagles can’t run a traditional dime package with four cornerbacks if Gase opts to pull a Kliff Kingsbury and raid the air from four-to-five wide receiver sets – a situation that would surely result in Jenkins dropping down into the slot against anyone from Jamison Crowder, to Chris Herndon IV, to superstar do-it-all back Le’Veon Bell.

In a way, moving Jenkins to corner feels all but inevitable.

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Playing Malcolm Jenkins in the slot full-time is far from a magical cure-all, as he really is best utilized as Jim Schwartz’s swiss army knife, but with the chips down and (seemingly) half of the team on the injury report, he may actually be the Philadelphia Eagles’ most competent cornerback going into Week 5 against the New York Jets; hopefully playing cornerback is like riding a bike, as Jenkins hasn’t played the position full-time since 2009.