The NFL is expected to release the 2014 regular season schedule before the end of the month. New Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins was a guest analyst for NFL Network last week and provided an honest answer when asked who he wanted to open the season against - the Washington Redskins.
"I think we might as well just shoot the elephant in the room and play the Redskins first, right out of the gate," Jenkins said. "Let's get DeSean (Jackson). Let's see what you've got and set the tone for the season."
Of course, Jenkins is referring to how Jackson was released by the Eagles in March before signing with the NFC East rivals.
Head coach Chip Kelly opened his NFL career last season against the Redskins on Monday Night Football, so the precedent for an Eagles-Redskins Week 1 showdown is there. The Redskins were also the division champs just two seasons ago before the Eagles dethroned them last season. Jenkins, who signed with the Eagles after five seasons in New Orleans, thinks that Kelly has the Eagles in a position to repeat in 2014.
"If you look at the rosters, I think we have talent all over the field," Jenkins said comparing the Eagles to the rest of the NFC East. "I think the other teams in the NFC East are very, very talented and they have the things to win, but if you look at the organization from top down – from ownership to coaches, all the way throughout – I think the leadership is there, I think the talent is there and I think the direction from Chip Kelly, (he) has us going in the right direction."
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Jenkins was added to bolster a pass defense that ranked last in the league in 2013. In 71 career games, Jenkins registered six interceptions, 4.5 sacks and recovered three fumbles. He also brings a leadership presence having been named a two-time team captain in New Orleans. Jenkins will be a quarterback on the back end of Bill Davis' defense.
"I think that's what you need when you have a coordinator like Bill Davis who likes to be multiple, likes to run a lot of things and give the players the tools to make the calls on the field," said Jenkins, who started his NFL career as a cornerback before switching to safety in his second season. "So you need that cerebral guy in the back and that's what I bring. Also that versatility. They really don't have a true free safety and strong safety; they have guys that will be in the box, be deep, cover receivers."
Jenkins is not the only former New Orleans Saint expected to help the Eagles take the next step in 2014. Three days after Jenkins signed with the Eagles, the team acquired running back Darren Sproles in a trade.
"I was surprised that they were going to trade him. It kind of came out that it was probably going to come down to the Eagles and Redskins, so right after I signed the Eagles were like, 'Call Darren,'" Jenkins recalled laughing. "I didn't hesitate because I didn't want to play against him twice a year, so I shot him a text right after I signed like, 'Come on and join your boy,' and he came so I'm definitely excited about that pick up. He's going to be a major part of what we do."