Written By Anthony Rieber, Newsday , Picture Courtesy Jim McIsaac
Janoris Jenkins has been a bright spot for the Giants defense with his play at cornerback. So much so that his former coach, Jeff Fisher, paid Jenkins an immense compliment from across the pond on Wednesday.
“He’s an outstanding young man, one of my favorites that I’ve ever had an opportunity to coach,” Fisher said from London, where the Giants will face the Rams on Sunday. “With all due respect to the other corners in the league right now, it’s hard to find one that’s playing better than he is.”
Jenkins could have been lining up against the Giants on Sunday if the Rams had decided to keep him. But he signed a five-year, $62.5-million free agent contract with the Giants.
“It was a disappointing loss for us,” Fisher said. “We made every attempt, and it’s just one of those things that happens in free agency. So I was disappointed. I spoke with him. He wanted to come back. It just didn’t work out. It was out of our control.”
One part of it was in the Rams’ control: They decided to slap the franchise tag on another cornerback, Trumaine Johnson. So, after four years in St. Louis, Jenkins moved on instead of moving to Los Angeles with the Rams.
“Before I signed with the Giants, I told them that I wanted to stay,” Jenkins said. “But it was part of a business plan, and it didn’t work out. It was hard, but business is business. I’m gone and I’m here now.”
Jenkins has the Giants’ only two interceptions this season, both coming against Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. Fisher wouldn’t say if Jenkins is playing better than he did in St. Louis, but said the former second-round pick is playing as well as anyone in the league.
“I’m just saying to reiterate, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find a corner in this league who’s playing better than he is,” Fisher said. “When asked to man-up and cover, he’s a shutdown corner. When asked to match up with the top receivers, he does it. He plays both sides. When asked to be patient and play zone and play within the scheme, he does it. I’m happy for him, but not happy for us.”
Jenkins said he appreciated his former coach’s kind words. But he doesn’t sound as if he’s going to let the praise go to his head as he prepares to face Los Angeles.
“I am just playing football and doing what I do,” Jenkins said. “That is a nice compliment, but I am just going to stay focused and continue to play football.”
Giants coach Ben McAdoo interrupted his own mostly monosyllabic media session on Wednesday to share multiple sentences about what he has learned about Jenkins.
“He’s playing good football,” McAdoo said. “He’s aggressive. He’s a competitor. Everything as advertised. The thing that surprises you is that you really don’t know what a guy is like until you get him in here and he’s a tremendous leader. Tremendous example for the young players.”
And a tremendous example of how to adjust to playing in the New York spotlight after signing a big contract. Why has Jenkins excelled where so many others have flopped?
“Because I never give in to the hype or the ‘he says, she says,’ ’’ he said. “Wherever I go, I just look forward to playing football and that will be my main focus. There is no [extra] pressure. There are just more lights.”