Poor Mike Jenkins, he's been getting hammered this week. And deservedly so. He made a 'business decision' when he decided not to tackle a Packers receiver near the goal line on Sunday night. You take a play off like that, and you're going to get hammered, unless you do it within the proper context. What you say, are you trying to justify Jenkins' quitting on a play? Maybe, but later I'll prove that if you do it within the proper context, most of us will let you get way with it.
But to a another point, Mike Jenkins' season is really a good microcosm of the Dallas Cowboys 2010 season as a whole. Jenkins played very well last year, he went to the Pro Bowl and was thought to be a rising star in this league. The expectations we had for him in 2010 were sky high. The Dallas Cowboys were a playoff team last year, one that was thought to be rising to the elite, the expectations were sky high.
Cue the actual season.
Mike Jenkins becomes a penalty machine. Every week we see him playing poor technique then having to grab a receiver to prevent a huge play. He looks disinterested half the time. Is his heart really into it? As the season wears on, the problems seem to get worse and worse. Much like the Cowboys team; they commit huge penalties that keep them from winning football games, they look confused, and eventually look disinterested in playing the games at all.
Finally, it all came to a head when Jenkins decided to make a business decision. Instead of feigning effort, he decided to forgo it all together. Not even a pretense. That felt like the Cowboys on Sunday against the Packers. The team had hit rock-bottom, and full-effort seemed to be the last thing on their minds.
Leave it to Jim Mora, Jr. to express the outrage.
"To me, this is high treason," Mora said. "An NFL football player does not turn down a play like that. And if I’m Jason Garrett, the first thing that I’m doing when I take over as the head coach of this team, is I’m getting guys like that — number 21, who absolutely committed treason, let his team down by passing up a tackle and let the ball get in the end zone — I’m taking him and I’m getting him out of my locker room."
Let's address that last sentence. I don't think Dallas should give up on Jenkins yet. Last year, he proved he has the talent to be a top-notch cover corner in this league. He's a bit of a gambler as a cornerback, he relies on speed and ball-skills to perform his craft. Sometimes it feels like he's daring the quarterback to throw his way. Contrast that to Terence Newman, who although once possessed world-class speed, relies more on position and technique as a corner. You can get it done both ways. But when you fail at Jenkins' style of play, you usually fail spectacularly, and it can be ugly. But everything has been ugly for Dallas this season, Jenkins has just been more noticeable. He's got the skills, so he's going to get time to rectify this. But, over the next eight games, he can't make anymore business decisions, and he better start playing like it's 2009.
Jenkins doesn't even dispute what happened on the fateful play.
"I gave up on a play," Jenkins said. "I came back and I made a couple of more tackles. I’m a good player. I try not get caught up in all that. If I do, I would go crazy.
"It is what is."
What it is is unacceptable - in context. If you're a cornerback and you're going to make business decisions every once in a while, you better be playing like the guy who coined the 'business decision' phrase. You wear #21, Jenkins, and last year you started to look the part, but unless you're playing like Deion Sanders, you can't make business decisions. Every team that Sanders played for was willing to accept that he wasn't going to be the greatest tackler in the world, but only because he brought so much else to the table. If you do it when you're playing like Prime Time, and you might also want to make sure your team is a winner, most of us would forgive you. We did him.
But playing like you are this season, and with the Cowboys season in the dumpster, you make a decision like that, or else you're going to get hammered.