Former Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins was on ESPN First Take on Friday and had some interesting comments regarding his former team.
First of relevance for Rams fans was a question from Max Kellerman:
Kellerman: Coming into this when the Giants gave you that huge contract, I'm a Giants fan. A big Giants fan. And my thought was, "Boy, he's a good corner, but he's like a risky corner." Just watching, you know, the Rams as much as I did, "He'll gamble. I don't know if he's a shutdown. Whoa, that's a lot of money to give a guy" who I thought of as maybe a B+ kind of corner. Watching you this year, you're playing like an A+. Now is that me not paying close enough attention, or is there actually a qualitative difference in your game this year?
Jenkins: Aw man, I can say it's kind of both. You know, I was at St. Louis, and you know, good organization, but I felt like somebody always had to make a play over there. And, I wanted to be that guy, because we were always either down by 21 or in a close game where somebody needs to make a play. To where, you know, I'm here at the Giants, and I can just play within the scheme. You know, because I depend on my offense. I know we got a good offense, and I just play within the scheme and play to the best of my ability.
Kellerman: So playing with better players has made you a better player in other words.
Jenkins: It's not better players. It's just not playing from behind all the time or not playing in a close game or things like that. Not having to jump routes because somebody gotta make a play.
Kellerman: Is that coaching staff you're talking about or organizational differences between the Giants and the Rams?
Jenkins: It's just probably, I'll just say the coordinators. They're just different.
Jenkins wasn't taking shots at the Rams. If anything, you can tell he's being careful to do the opposite. There's no doubt, though, that the overwhelming ineptitude of the Rams offense has to have worn down the defensive players who, as Jenkins alluded to, have to feel as if they need to make plays constantly to keep the team in the game. To know that they can beat the Seahawks 9-3 and beat the Jets 9-6 but most other games are going to be out of reach. Those are the extreme examples of the 2016 Los Angeles Rams of which Janoris Jenkins has not been a part of, but they're indicative of the kind of imperceptible effect the Rams' horrendous offensive output of recent seasons has had on the defense.
Jenkins also touched on his recent comments suggesting that players aren't allowed to talk to Stan Kroenke:
Kellerman: As a Giants fan I've noticed that in the NFL you have some very good ownership, especially in northeastern teams with family traditions like the Maras like the Rooneys in Pittsburgh...and you were quoted recently in the last day or so as saying that Kroenke on the Rams, you weren't even supposed to look at him if he was in camp. If he was walking through, you were supposed to not even talk to him or anything like that, and you contrasted that with the culture around the Giants. Can you speak to that a little bit?
Jenkins: It's just different, man. You know, St. Louis [was] a great organization. There's nothing that was bad over there, but it's just different. Here in New York, you know, it's winning. Everybody wanna win. Everybody wanna go out and make that play that can't nobody on the other team make. You know what I mean, it just makes me feel like I'm home.
That's a rougher indictment. The idea that the difference between the Giants and the Rams is a culture of winning isn't something we've ignored. It's also something that strikes deep perhaps beyond the layer peeled off when the Rams fired Former Head Coach Jeff Fisher (something Stephen A. Smith immediately albeit briefly followed up on).
The Rams haven't sent many players on to success outside the boundaries of the franchise in the Jeff Fisher era. Now with the 2012 NFL Draft class reaching their full rookie contractual boundary, something made obvious for the team with the free agent losses of Jenkins and S Rodney McLeod this offseason, we're starting to see that kind of attrition. Jenkins is playing at a Pro Bowl level for the Giants. DE Chris Long has had a nice rebound season in an inarguably stronger culture in New England joining former Ram WR Danny Amendola. I offer all that only because there haven't been many players who could speak on their time with the Rams without coming off as having an axe to grind. Janoris' tone certainly suggests he doesn't. The five-year $62.5m contract he signed with the New York Giants, who at 10-4 look very comfortable to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2011 season, only add to that suggestion.
In any case, it's the rare opportunity to hear someone with legitimate insight into the Fisherball era speak on it with legitimacy and insight, and in the case of the Jackrabbit, some class as well.