Jon Gruden is a happy man. He says he’s glad that Kris Jenkins is gone and that his team won’t have to face the big man twice each season.
“I gave (Jets) coach Eric Mangini the biggest hug I’ve ever given a coach and told him, `Good God, do we appreciate you taking that guy out of our division,” Gruden said at a media breakfast with NFC coaches at the NFL owner’s meetings this week.
I’m sure he is happy. And now I guess Eric Mangini will be added to Gruden’s Christmas card list. But isn’t it possible that he doesn’t understand Jenkins?
The Panthers let him go in that deal, according to reports, because he had become a problem child. He had his house up for sale long ago and wasn’t happy playing in Charlotte. He wanted out.
So, if Jenkins had stayed in Charlotte, Gruden probably would have seen a different player next year. In all likelihood he would have been facing a guy who lacked motivation because he was unhappy – with his locale and his coaches.
What does this say for Jenkins? And does this say anything about either coach John Fox or defensive coordinator Mike Trgovac?
Last season, the team lacked a pass rush. And, at times, it looked like a Chinese fire drill was at work instead of an aggressive defense. For example, there was Julius Peppers dropping back at times – to do what? He’s a pass rusher not a cover linebacker!
Could it be that Jenkins had just lost faith in the coaching staff because they were misusing him and his teammates? Or does Jenkins have a bad attitude? That answer will come when we see how he performs in the Big Apple.
Further complicating this are the draft picks that the Panthers got in return for KJ – a third and a fifth rounder. What the team does with these two picks will be the final determination in whether they made a good deal or not.
Finally, Ma’ake Kemoeatu and Damione Lewis must perform well at defensive tackle. If not, fans will be upset that Jenkins is gone even if he did have a bad attitude since he was a mainstay in the Panthers’ front four.
But the split between the team and Jenkins was likened to a divorce by coach Fox.
“I think Kris, early on, we got along great,” Fox said at the media breakfast. “He went to two or three Pro Bowls and went to the Super Bowl. He missed the (2005 NFC) championship year because he was injured.
“We had a good marriage. It didn’t last forever.”
Could Fox later have a case of remorse for letting go of this marriage or will he always be happy they split up? They didn’t have any kids to argue over so they don’t have to talk anymore. I guess it was for the best. They weren’t really made for each other anyway.