Malcolm Jenkins seemed more frustrated after the Eagles' 48-7 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday than any point in his Eagles career, and he explained it on Tuesday with a strong public rebuke of the Eagles' "demeanor" before the team began preparing for this weekend's make-or-break game against the New York Giants.
"It was just embarrassing, quite frankly," Jenkins said about the loss. "I didn't feel as a team we had a lot of fight. I'd rather get thrown out of a game than just lay down and take it. … The demeanor of the team really bothered me. And then just the frustration of having guys you work hard with and spend time with getting injured, it was just a rough day overall. But at this point in time, we need to figure out some things about ourselves."
When asked for clarification on what he meant by "demeanor," Jenkins responded, "you watched the game," almost suggesting that it should have been obvious for all to see. He did not want to use word uninspired, but he questioned whether all of his teammates played with the necessary intensity and desire.
"When a team jumps on you like the Saints did and things get rolling, you find out a lot about yourself," Jenkins said. "You're going to get blown out regardless. You're either going to get blown out swinging or you're going to get blown out laying down. And I think you had a little bit of both."
Jenkins, an Eagles captain and a respected locker room leader, said fixing the problems will start in practice and while the team watches film from the Saints game. He said there were areas everyone can improve, fessing up to plays that were uncharacteristic for him, too. But he differentiated between the result of the play and the way they play.
"Some things are just non-negotiable," Jenkins said. "We can deal with guys getting beat. Mistakes happen. If you don't win at the point of attack, cool. But if you don't know what you're doing or you're not giving us everything you got, especially with our backs on the wall, that's just something that as leaders of the team, we need to nip in the bud.
"Because we're at that moment where we can't carry non-essential personnel. Not to say there are guys that aren't playing hard or guys that aren't giving it what they got. We just need every drop of it at this point. And we're going to demand that from the top of the roster all the way to the bottom."
This was not a problem last season when the Eagles won the Super Bowl. The team that said "hungry dogs run faster" don't appear like hungry dogs. But don't call it a Super Bowl hangover to Jenkins. In fact, don't even bring up the Super Bowl. He hasn't enjoyed Super Bowl questions all season, and he doesn't believe that the way the Eagles are playing now is related to the Super Bowl.
"The Super Bowl has no consequence on this year," Jenkins said. "We don't win a game because of the Super Bowl, we don't lose a game because of the Super Bowl. Everything that you see this year, you can turn on the tape and see exactly why we have the record we have."
Jenkins said losing puts everybody's jobs at stake — players and coaches. But players can either focus on "things that make you afraid," or they can "stand up and face it." That's where the Eagles have found themselves now at 4-6. Their path to the postseason is by winning the division, and with their next three games against NFC East foes, this is the time to make up ground. But Jenkins said it must start with how hard the team plays.
"For us to even have success – we want to talk about the division – if we don't find guys who are ready to fight for it, it's all for naught," Jenkins said. "…This is who we're going to win with. If we can't handle it right now, there's not going to be a switch we can turn on later to all the sudden be the team everybody expects us to be. We have to figure that out today."