MALCOLM JENKINS has the advantage of grooming, elocution and charm. His fashion sense is unmatched; his oratory, peerless.
Combine his charisma with his character and you produce one of the more earnest men in all of sports.
But, this one time, don't believe his hype.
Jenkins faced the Saints for the first time since they spurned him. He was a huge part of the Eagles' 39-17 blowout win that dropped Sean Payton and Co. to 1-4.
"For me, personally, I looked at this game the way I look at any other game," Jenkins said afterward. "My goal is to always earn the respect of my opponent, so that's really how I go out there."
The Saints respect Jenkins a little more now.
In 2014 the Saints set Jenkins adrift and landed ballhawk, free-agent safety Jairus Byrd. This divorce was particularly harsh.
Jenkins was a first-round pick by the Saints in 2009, where he played cornerback as a rookie. He helped them win a Super Bowl that season. Over the next 4 years he converted to safety, a lower-paying positions, and engaged with the struggling New Orleans community.
The Saints repaid Jenkins by paying Byrd $54 million over 6 years.
Jenkins landed in Philadelphia for 3 years and $15.5 million.
Knee issues have limited Byrd to six games for the Saints, who are 8-13 since Byrd arrived.
Jenkins has not only started all 21 games as an Eagle but he has played almost every single snap, and the Eagles are 12-9. He has been the team's best defensive back, if not its best defender, with a team-best 149 tackles since his arrival.
One tackle he did not make yesterday cost the Eagles 46 yards, when Brandin Cooks beat Jenkins deep. But, on the whole, Jenkins was as disruptive as ever.
On the Saints' first offensive play, Jenkins slipped a block and dropped running back C.J. Spiller for a 3-yard loss. Later on that drive Jenkins blitzed and drew a double-team, which freed Bennie Logan for a 7-yard sack that ensured the Saints would punt. In the second quarter, Jenkins dropped Spiller for a 5-yard loss that again pushed the Saints beyond feasible field-goal range.
Jenkins wasn't the only Saint whose exodus from the Big Easy in 2014 was uneasy.
The Eagles traded a measly fifth-round draft pick for scat-back and punt returner Darren Sproles, who proceeded to earn a Pro Bowl spot in 2014. But Sproles, at least, was nearly 31, and his production was diminishing, if only slightly.
Sproles finished yesterday's grudge match with five rushes for 27 yards and a 10-yard reception, but the Saints often double-teamed him, which freed up other receivers. His potential to flip the field as a punt returner led the Saints to sabotage their own kicking game; they never gave him a chance.
They punted away from Sproles but they could not avoid Jenkins.
He was just too smooth.