New York Giants: Janoris Jenkins emerging as defensive leader

May 25, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins (20) answers questions from the media during OTA practice at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
May 25, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants cornerback Janoris Jenkins (20) answers questions from the media during OTA practice at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports /

In Year 1 with the New York Giants, Janoris Jenkins certainly left his mark on the field, and he’s continued that this offseason, becoming a team leader.

The New York Giants made one of the largest splashes in 2016 free agency when they signed cornerback Janoris Jenkins to a five-year, $62.5 million dollar contract. In return, Jenkins turned out to be the No. 1 cornerback on the defense, hauling in three interceptions, batting down a career-high 18 passes and deservingly earning a Pro-Bowl nomination.

In the Giants’ two games played against the rival Dallas Cowboys, Jenkins held their No. 1 receiver, Dez Bryant to one catch, which resulted in a forced fumble. His play speaks for itself, but it is his work ethic and the manner in which he carries himself that are beginning to really set Janoris Jenkins apart as one of the leaders on the New York Giants defense.

The main question here is: What qualities qualify someone to be a good leader? In Jenkins case, they are as follows: Accountability, positivity and persistence towards goals, and team-oriented vision.

More from NFL Spin Zone

Looking at each of those individually, we’ll examine Jenkins and his ability to lead the Giants in 2017.


As mentioned above, there is no doubt that Jenkins was all the Giants had hoped he’d be in 2016. His play on the field set the bar high for those around him on the defensive squad and his excitement for what the group could accomplish was contagious. Yet a Pro-Bowl nomination, career-high numbers and a total shutdown of one of the best receivers in the league still isn’t good enough for Jenkins.

When asked about the upcoming 2017 season, Jenkins said (per Big Blue Review):

"“There are a lot of ways that I can be better,” Jenkins said during OTAs. “You always can critique yourself as far as paying attention to the small details. Understanding what is coming when it is coming, staying square at the line. It is just small things and just coming out and working at it every day.”"

Despite his 2016 success, he still holds himself accountable for the mistakes he’s made, regardless of how minor they were. A true leader holds him or herself liable for every move they make — or will make in the future — regardless of the outcome.

Jenkins will come out this offseason and work to better himself on even the smallest of details. Those around him will take note and rookies and veterans alike will begin to display the same sense of accountability Jenkins does.

Positivity and persistence towards goals

A matchup that Giants fans have had the pleasure of watching all offseason has been the battle between Jenkins and Brandon Marshall. Of course, it is all in good nature as both players widely respect each other, but Jenkins’ persistence towards reaching his goals of bettering himself shined through in one particular play that burned a hole in Marshall’s mind (per Giants Wire):

"“I won one today and caught a go ball and then came back and he wiped that play out, and he just shut me down on an in-cut and a 15 yard comeback….So I know that he is going to bring it every day, and that means that I have to do the same or I am going to be on the film and not looking too hot.”"

As mentioned previously, Jenkins’ play on the field inspires those on the defensive squad around him, but also motivates the Giants’ offensive players to watch film and improve. Lance Medow told

"“The whole defensive unit seems to be feeding off of Jenkins’ competitive fire.”"

More from New York Giants

However, based on Marshall’s comment, I think it’s plain to see the team, in general, is feeding off of his competitive nature. Whether or not that is one of Jenkins’ direct goals, it is a direct result of his persistence in holding himself accountable for any and every way he believes there is room for improvement.

Team-oriented vision

In 2016, the Giants defense allowed the fewest touchdowns in the NFL, had the No. 1 red zone defense and allowed the second fewest points. When asked about the defenses 2016 performance by ESPN’s Jordan Raanan, Jenkins simply replied with:

"“We were OK. It was our first year, everybody’s first year together, and I feel like we have that bond and chemistry where I know how [Landon Collins] plays, he knows how I play. I know how [Olivier Vernon] plays at the D-end and what they expect on the other side of a tight end,”"

Jenkins was by no means dialing down the way the Giants’ defense played last year with that comment, but he later elaborated that his goal is to have the defense as a whole emerge as a “special unit.” According to Jenkins, this special unit consists of (per 247 Sports):

"“…turning the defense up a notch, whether it is secondary, the linebackers and then everyone is coming together as one in a bun and we are all on one page.”"

One of Jenkins’ primary goals is not only to better himself, but the team as a whole. Some players struggle with that task and get too carried away in their own improvement, but Jenkins wants this special unit to be a focal point of his throughout the upcoming season. The defense as a unit came out in full force last year and everybody meshed well, but there is always room for growth and improvement — especially in Jenkins’ mind.

Next: NFL 2017: 20 QBs with best chance at 5,000 yards

If Jenkins’ continues to have such a large impact on and off the field, he will certainly become a solid team leader. Sure, Jenkins can run his mouth on social media sometimes, but what player doesn’t once in a while? The guy has done nothing but show up on the field and bring hard work and dedication to Big Blue. His work ethic is rubbing off on those around him and he will never give up on his quest for perfection.