As the Jets stumbled out of the AFC playoff race with losses in four of their final five games, nose tackle Kris Jenkins’ daunting presence diminished. In his first season after converting from a 4-3 defensive tackle to nose tackle in the Jets’ 3-4 defense, Jenkins carried the Jets’ resurgent run defense through the season’s first 12 weeks. But as the Jets sputtered toward the finish line, so did their ability to stop the run. After holding the Titans’ explosive ground game to 45 total yards in the the Jets’ 34-13 win in late November, Gang Green allowed an average of 132 yards rushing in the final five weeks.
Jenkins, appearing today on SNY’s “Daily News Live,” said that he “wore down” late in the season, explaining that multiple injuries were “catching up” to him and opposing offenses began throwing different blocking schemes to limit his effectiveness.
“The end of the year was a little bit tough for me. I had a couple injuries that were catching up. It was a new position, I didn’t understand that you have to focus on different muscle groups to get those prepared. That was something that I had no knowledge of,” Jenkins said. “I’m not going to say anything or take away from any of the guys I played against…we started playing teams that started to understand ‘ok we have to do something to take Jenkins out of the picture.’ I started seeing the schemes at the same time and they started doing different things.”
Jenkins revealed the day following the season-ending loss to the Dolphins that he suffered through a herniated disk and injuries to both his hips during the season. The injuries will not require surgery.
While the late-season collapse left many players mystified about how the once-promising campaign turned ugly, Jenkins appeared relaxed today in shoving aside the struggles.
“The first 11 games were probably stronger than the last couple, but that’s all right. Whatever it is, I’ve looked at the film, I’ve seen the things that I need to improve on, and I know what it is that I need to do going into the offseason,” Jenkins explained.
Depending on the outcome of the Jets’ head coaching search, Jenkins may find himself back in a 4-3 defense. He spent seven seasons at defensive tackle with the Carolina Panthers, before transitioning into Eric Mangini’s defensive system following his trade to Gang Green in February.
If Mangini’s decides to turn back to a 4-3 defense, Jenkins will have to transition again. He explained that he’s “comfortable” with the situation because of his experience in both defensive systems. Asked if he preferred playing in the 4-3 or 3-4 defense, Jenkins replied, “I just prefer playing.”
“As long as I get the opportunity to play, I’m not going to be picky,” he said.