The Eagles secondary has been subject of much chatter around NFL circles — and among fans — due to their inability to field a group of workable cornerbacks over recent team history.
With a youthful infusion on the way in rookies Rasul Douglas, Sidney Jones and second-year player Jalen Mills expected to provide some stability at the position, it is easy to overlook the other half of the secondary — one that has been a beacon of consistency and leadership.
Ever since Malcolm Jenkins came to Philly from New Orleans, the safety position has been a strength for the Birds. And after last year’s addition of Rodney McLeod, the Eagles sport one of the most formidable safety tandems in the NFL, entering Year 2 together. A pair of Pro Bowl seasons from the safeties is not out of the question.
“We see the game the same,” McLeod, a 26-year-old former Ram, said of Jenkins during minicamp. “It’s helping my game out a lot when I can just go back to him and ask him what he sees on certain plays and pick his game. That’s one of the reasons I came over. It got better from Year 1 to Year 2 and it will only get better as we continue to play and get a feel for one another.”
McLeod had three interceptions and a sack last year, the most of his NFL career. He also had 83 tackles, another season high. His play brought out the best in Jenkins as well, who returned two interceptions for touchdowns last year whole adding 72 tackles of his own
More impressive than the individual production is the fact that the two are extremely versitile — an important attribute in the NFL in 2017.
“This spring, we’ve been able to add a few new tricks to our sleeves,” Jenkins said before the Eagles took a five week break prior to the start of training camp in July. “The interchangeability we have, the ability to see the game the same way and then communicate it to the defense is big. It’s a lot less on my shoulders and both of us have taken that next step in our maturation process and in our relationship as a tandem, and I am excited for it.”
The pair are the leaders of the defense both vocally and by example. And they are two peas in a pod in the locker room, too.
“The relationship is strong,” McLeod said. “We trust each other and when both of us are on our ‘A-game,’ it’s pretty much unstopable.”