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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The two New York teams are at opposite ends of the spectrum with their quarterback situation. The Jets, with rookie Sam Darnold, look to be building what the franchise hopes will be a sustainable contender in the next few years. At 3-3, the young team is firmly in the midst of the playoff chase and just one game back in the division, though winning the AFC East seems much less likely with the Patriots and Tom Brady still clicking. Still, there is hope for the future building around Darnold.
On the other side of town, the Giants have limped out of the gates to a 1-5 start and though Eli’s stats look okay (68% 1,662 yards 6 TD 4 INT), he’s struggled to push the ball down field to wide receivers. There are plenty of weapons, but the offensive line has had its issues and Eli’s passes don’t seem as crisp as they were a few years ago. With Eli at 37-years-old, the Giants are on the opposite end of the age curve, trying to quickly build with the weapons they have.
To get some insight into both guys and their respective teams, we caught up with Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins. Jenkins is joining Showtime’s Inside the NFL as a contributing analyst this season, and you can catch him along with Phil Simms, Boomer Esiason, Ray Lewis and James Brown on Tuesday nights starting at 9 p.m. Eastern Time.
CBS Local Sports: The Jets have really gotten the ground game going in recent weeks. How much does that help with a young quarterback’s development?
Malcolm Jenkins: I think it helps any quarterback when that’s happening, but especially a young quarterback, because it takes pressure off of them to make plays. When you run the ball, you are usually controlling the clock and the tempo of the game. Along with the running game, their defense has been helping out as well, getting takeaways and giving them extra possessions so that he doesn’t necessarily feel stressed to put it all on his arm.
CBS Local Sports: After six weeks, where does Darnold stack up among the rookie class of QBs, in your opinion?
Malcolm Jenkins: He’s playing well, it’s hard to put any of the other guys out in front of him. The biggest thing that you look for out of young quarterbacks is their poise. How do they bounce back from their mistakes? What kind of command do they have of the offense? And, what kind of respect do they have from their teammates? I think he checks all of those boxes. Obviously, rookies are going to make mistakes, but he’s playing well.
CBS Local Sports: The Jets are still very much in the division and playoff race. What’s the ceiling for this team this season?
Malcolm Jenkins: Obviously, they’re in a tough division, so they’re not going to win the division. So, for them, it’s one of those things where you’re looking for a chance to get into the wildcard. All of the games they have left are going to be important. They have a shot.
CBS Local Sports: On the other side of town, the Giants and Eli have struggled mightily. What’s the biggest difference you see between Eli’s play this year versus past years?
Malcolm Jenkins: The biggest thing for Eli is he throws off of his offensive line. If they can keep him clean, then he usually has success. When people try to play one-on-one with the receivers that he has, whether it’s Odell or Sterling Shepard, he throws well when he can get the ball in and out of his hands. That just hasn’t been the case so far this year. Teams have been able to hit Eli, take away his first or second read, and he’s a different quarterback when he gets hit.