It’s fair to say Eagles defensive coordinator is fired up about Philadelphia’s acquisition of Timmy Jernigan. The newest defensive tackle is mutually excited to play for his new coach.
"Oh man, I’m excited," said Jernigan when asked how he feels about playing for Schwartz. "He told me ‘This is going to be a big year for you.’ He has plans for me. So we’ll see man."
Schwartz might not be praising Jernigan lightly. There’s reason to believe the 24-year-old could have a big season in the Eagles’ defense.
After spending time in schemes that have required Jernigan to read and react to opposing offenses, now the Eagles will be asking him to attack in Schwartz’s scheme.
"I’m ready, man," said Jernigan. "I’ve been waiting to play in this type of scheme for awhile. Being at Florida State for a couple years, we were more reading [the opposing offense] there, and then I went to Baltimore and we read a little bit there. Last year in Baltimore we started attacking a little bit more. And I had my best year so it’s going to be exciting."
"I’ve never even played in a system like this to where they really want you to attack all the time. Everywhere I’ve played they’ve always kind of told you to ‘keep the linebackers free, keep the lineman off the linebackers.’ Stuff like that. But this is kind of my first time ever being told ‘Go!’ I’ll prove my point."
Jernigan has racked up 13 career sacks in 43 games played (26 starts) so far. Given his explosive skill-set, it’s exciting to think about the kind of pressure he’ll generate in Philadelphia. Especially playing next to a beast like Fletcher Cox.
"Of course it’ll help," said Jernigan of his new fellow starting defensive tackle. "I mean, he’s a dog. People are gonna double him, he’s going to cause attention. And when you get attention and you get double teamed, you’re free on the other side. I’m pretty confident that I can win one-on-ones. I’m confident that I can beat two people sometimes. I think we’re going to complement each other."
While it’s easy to get excited about Jernigan’s potential, it’s impossible to ignore some of the concerns. After a hot start in 2016, Jernigan slowed down at the end of the season and went without a sack in his last seven games. Thus, his motor has been drawn into question.
"The best thing you could ever do is go out and prove it," Jernigan said. "As far as motor, these questions I’ve never even heard. Because everybody I’ve ever played with knows I go hard. And I’ma prove my point when I get here too. Everybody in this organization will know ‘That kid, he’s a dog on the field.’ I don’t stop."
The former second-round pick from the 2014 NFL Draft will also be a free agent after the season. The Eagles will have to decide if they can keep him around for the long-term. For now, Jernigan’s not focused on that.
"It’s in the back of your head, you know, but at the end of the day my biggest focus is football," said Jernigan. "I would hate to have the mindset about nothing but money coming into the situation. It wouldn’t work out for me if that was the only thing in my mind. It wouldn’t work. You have to focus on what’s important. Keep the main thing the main thing. It’s football. I’m not worried about nothing else. I’m trying to win. That’s it."
For more on Jernigan, check out our previous coverage:
Timmy Jernigan press conference transcript below. Interesting how he praised Jason Kelce without being specifically prompted about him.
WERE YOU SURPRISED BY THE TRADE? HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT IT?
I was mind blown. The day that it [happened], I was just kinda sleeping and woke up and looked at my phone. I was like ‘What!’ So you know, I mean, it surprised me. But at the end of the day I think it’s going to work in my favor. And I think that that’s going to work out fine for Baltimore too. I wish them well.
DID YOU THINK AFTER BRANDON WILLIAMS SIGNED A BIG DEAL YOU MIGHT NOT BE IN BALTIMORE LONG?
I knew that. I knew that after the next year I would probably be gone. I wasn’t thinking a couple months or a couple weeks I’d be out of there. It’s part of it.
HAS THE SHOCK WORN OFF?
It really don’t matter, honestly. I’m an Eagle now. This green and black is the only thing on my mind. It’s all I care about. I gotta do whatever I gotta do to help take this defense to the next level and help us win football games. That’s the only thing that’s important.
MORE COMFORTABLE PLAYING CLOSER TO THE CENTER THAN FIVE-TECHNIQUE?
It doesn’t matter. That’s another thing I think Baltimore helped me out with a lot. I played on both sides. They did it really well at moving me up and down the line. I moved a lot at Florida State, even from an end to zero technique. I mean, I’m used to it. It really doesn’t matter. I’m just one of those guys that, I just want to be on the field. I’m fighting for a spot. I’m not even looking at this situation as ‘Oh, you’re going to come in to start right now.’ You gotta earn that. You know what I mean? So after I earn my spot, then I’ll kind of go from there. But right now my mind is just on earning anything.
HAVE YOU TALKED TO FORMER RAVENS AND CURRENT EAGLES SAFETY TERRENCE BROOKS SINCE THE TRADE HAPPENED?
[Laughs] He was so happy, man. T-Brooks was one of the first people to call me. He was so excited. He was telling me how I’ma enjoy it here. How much I’ma like it. So I’m ready to see it man.
YOUR SACKS WENT DOWN IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE SEASON. WHAT WAS THE REASON?
I don’t really know what the case was. I know part of it was I had a little stinger in my shoulder around the time we played the Cowboys [in late November], so that kind of nagged [me] a couple of weeks. And then from there, I couldn’t really have a great explanation to anything that happened or anything like that. I gave it everything I got. The coaches know that. The guys that I played with know that. That’s all that matters, man.
THIS IS A CONTRACT YEAR FOR YOU. HOW DOES THAT FACTOR IN?
It really doesn’t. I mean I’ve been busting my tail since I been in the NFL. So I plan to just come in and do it all over again. Work as hard as I can, learn the playbook inside and out, and go put it all out there on Sunday. And make sure I practice hard in-between. I feel like as long as I do those things, the rest of it will take care of itself.
THIS EAGLES HAVE A LOT OF MONEY TIED UP IN THE DEFENSIVE LINE. DO YOU THINK THERE’S A CHANCE YOU CAN BE HERE LONG-TERM?
I haven’t even thought that far. I understand the situation. Right now my mind is on football and winning football games. The money part, that stuff will figure itself out. I’m not worried about that. I feel like I’m doing pretty good in my life. I’ve seen more now than I’ve ever seen before. So I’m not thinking about that. I wanna play football. I just want to prove my point. I want to prove that I’m one of the best.
WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE EAGLES’ OFFENSE BASED ON PLAYING THEM LAST YEAR?
They move well, man. Those guys up front move well. Especially [Jason] Kelce. I think Kelce is probably one of the best centers I’ve played against. His ability to move sideways, get up on linebackers and stuff, he gave us a fit. So I know those guys can play. I’m going to have my work cut out for me every day at practice.
DID YOU KNOW JOE DOUGLAS IN BALTIMORE?
IS THAT SOMETHING THAT YOU THINK FACTORED IN TO THIS TRADE?
Nah. I don’t know. To be honest with you, I don’t know what kinda caused all this to happen. I’m just as lost as a lot of people. I got a lot of the same questions that y’all have.
WHAT’S THE WEEK BEEN LIKE?
It’s been a little bit hectic. But I’m adjusted. I’ll be fine. I know that this is home. I know that I’m wanted here. I know that I want to be here.
WHO DO YOU KNOW IN THE EAGLES LOCKER ROOM?
Nigel Bradham. Terrence Brooks. Two guys that I know fairly well. I played against [Chance] Warmack. We joked around a little bit when we played each other my rookie year. But that’s about it. I’m looking forward to meeting more people though. It’s going to be interesting.
IS GETTING TO THE QUARTERBACK A BIG PART OF YOUR GAME?
Most definitely. It’s every defensive lineman’s — it’s kind of the main thing. Everybody wants sack, but it’s hard to get them. It’s hard, man. You gotta make sure you prepare the right way.
IS THE SCHEME CHANGE GOING TO TAKE SOME TIME TO GET USED TO?
No. Not me. It ain’t gonna take no getting used to. I’m just getting ready to put that helmet on and prove my point.
WERE YOU FRUSTRATED AT THE END OF LAST YEAR?
Nah. I wish we coulda made the playoffs and stuff like that, but from a personal standpoint, no. There wasn’t no reason. At the end of the day, things may have slowed down for me, but I had the best year of my career last year. People don’t want to mention that. I had the best year of my career. The guys beside me had pretty good years. Brandon Williams had a great year. Michael Pierce, he had a great year. So it’s like, everybody ate. Everybody had a good year. So I had no reason to be down at all.