At the beginning of the 2019 season, Jordan Jenkins made it a priority to switch up his approach to the game and build off the success he saw in the previous season. After registering career-high numbers in multiple categories this year, the fourth-year linebacker showed that he did exactly that.
"This year honestly was just a stress-free mindset for me," said Jenkins. "I really changed the way I went about approaching this season and playing this season and I kept a level head. I didn't worry about things I couldn't control. I didn't get on Twitter or anything like that. I just focused on football and being there for the guys."
In 2018, the 6'3", 259-pound LB had climbed to the top of his game and finished the season tied as the team's leading pass rusher with 7 sacks and tacked on 2 forced fumbles. But instead of remaining satisfied, Jenkins took it upon himself to further his development. He's an individual who — over the past two years especially — has prided himself on his ability to get to the quarterback. This season, Jenkins recorded a career-high 8 sacks, 3 pass defenses and 2 forced fumbles.
"After seeing the success I had the prior season — finishing with seven sacks and more effective against the pass than I had been in the past years — I asked myself if I wanted to settle for that or did I want a repeat performance and build on top of that," Jenkins said. "I came to that realization and figured I'd just put in the work."
He added: "I feel like I'm getting to the quarterback more consistently and affecting throws. I finished the season with eight sacks and played three less games than last year, so it's just been about being more effective in less snaps this year."
See the Best Photos of the Linebacker Unite During the 2019 Season
Along with improving his personal performance, Jenkins also helped elevate a defense led by first-year Jets coordinator Gregg Williams to the No. 2 in the league against the run, allowing 86.9 rushing yards per game and 3.34 rushing yards per play. The Green & White's defense finished No. 7 overall, allowing 323.1 yards per game. Jenkins attributes much of the defense's success to Williams' philosophy of requiring each defensive player to learn multiple positions.
"I really like that approach because, one, it forces everyone to actually learn the defense because having to know more than one position means you're understanding the ins and outs," Jenkins said. "You understand why at this position you have to do this to free up someone else at another position. It really forces you to understand things a lot better. It honestly makes you look better on film to every other team in the league because it shows how versatile you can be."
With the 2019 season in the books, Jenkins reflected back on both personal and team accomplishments. One thing he remains proud of is the defense's response to adversity all season long.
"I feel like this was one defensive team and one team overall that bought in," Jenkins said. "When guys went down, we didn't fall through and split apart. It was more like we lost this starter and that starter. Most teams couldn't really handle that and would just panic and falter. But this is honestly one team that I've been on that no one faltered and no one panicked. We were just like 'so what, now what?' with the next man up mentality to get the ball rolling."