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Eagle Eye: Who is worse: Eagles or Giants?
Cullen Jenkins is in his first season with the Giants after being released by the Eagles last offseason. (AP)
The Eagles officially released Cullen Jenkins on Feb. 25, less than a month after Jeffrey Lurie hired Chip Kelly to replace Andy Reid.
But the veteran defensive tackle knew he didn’t factor into the team’s plans long before the axe came down.
Jenkins, who now plays for the Giants, recalled the uncertain days for veterans like him in the aftermath of Kelly’s hiring. In a conference call with the Philadelphia media, Jenkins relayed the “funny story” about his first encounter with the new head coach.
“I had felt something was off when they got the new coaching staff and me and some of the guys were texting back and forth to see who had heard from the coaching staff yet,” he said, “and you slowly started to hear the [younger] guys say, 'Yeah, you know, Coach and them called me.’ And it was me and a couple of other guys I won’t mention, but we never got calls from the coaches.
“Since I was living in the area (South Jersey) I figured that I would go out and reach out to the coaches, you know, just sit down and have a conversation with him. I went up there to meet the coach, and the secretary went in and Coach Kelly was talking with Howie [Roseman] and it was funny because I heard her say I was outside and I heard coach say, ‘Have I met him yet?’ So I knew there was probably a pretty good chance I wasn’t in their plans at the moment.”
Jenkins said he understood the situation: The Eagles were looking to groom young, interior linemen in Cedric Thornton and Fletcher Cox. Jenkins turned 32 in January, just five days before his release, and had been brought in by the old regime in 2011 to play a gap-shooting role in a 4-3, wide-nine scheme, as opposed to the polar opposite 3-4 that Kelly and his defensive staff planned to implement.
Although Jenkins had played in the 3-4 in Green Bay, where he won a Super Bowl in 2010, he sensed that Kelly’s vision of the defense didn’t include him.
“I met with him, he asked me a lot of questions about myself,” Jenkins said. “We had a pretty good meeting. Getting to know each other. I told him a lot of what I was about. He talked to me, told me a bit about himself, what he was about.
“I met with the defensive line coach (Jerry Azzinaro), he was a real cool person, too. He talked to me, showed me some things he liked. And then when they hired the defensive coordinator, I talked to him as well. So everybody was really cool and real respectful, and I even take my hats off to them on the way they handled the situation.
“They realized I wasn’t going to be part of their plans, and they didn’t just hold onto me as long as they could. They released me and gave me an opportunity and get out there early and figure out where I wanted to go.”
Jenkins latched on with the Giants, who also missed the playoffs but had won two of the past six Super Bowls and finished their disappointing 2012 season with a 41-7 trouncing of the Eagles.
But his fortunes haven’t turned. The Giants are actually worse than the Eagles, winless in their first four games, outscored 146-61 and tied with the Steelers for the NFL’s fewest sacks (four). Jenkins isn’t certain to play Sunday because of a leg injury.
Kind of makes you wonder if he’s cursed.
“Big time,” agreed Jenkins, who is now 4-16 in his past 20 games and just 12-24 since winning the Super Bowl with Green Bay. “Sometimes it makes you feel like, is it me? Am I bad luck or what the heck is going on?”
Still, Jenkins isn’t ready to sign the death certificate on the Giants’ season. Assuming that Dallas loses to the unbeaten Broncos, who are already 2-0 against NFC East teams this year, the Giants can move within one game of first place in the division with a win over the Eagles.
He also knows from last year’s nightmare that win-loss records after the first quarter of the season can be deceptive. The Eagles were 3-1 last year after beating the Giants at home in Week 4, then lost 11 of their next 12.
“I think one of the things that, if you look at back then, I don’t think people really understood. ... We were 3-1, but the three games we had won, we barely won,” he said. “We barely held on to win those games. So if you really look at it, we were really close to not having a single win.
“But we were able to pull out those games at the end. We had a sense of confidence of being 3-1 because the record was good, but we weren’t winning the games as decisively as you’d like to. So once things -- the one play here or there -- didn’t go in our favor, you start dropping games fast.”