I’ll be the first to admit that I had little faith in Mike Jenkins as the Oakland Raiders’ starting cornerback heading into the 2013 campaign. Through the first six games, there wasn’t much reason to think the silver and black made a good choice in bringing aboard the former Pro Bowler.
However, in Week 8, Jenkins finally showed some of the skill that convinced the Raiders to sign him in the first place.
Going up against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jenkins handled the starting left cornerback role with ease. Targeted on eight different occasions, the former Dallas Cowboys first-round pick allowed only three catches for 11 yards. All three of the catches came on short, dump-off passes. He picked off a deep pass down the field and his only blemish in coverage came by way of a pass interference call.
Throughout the game, Jenkins shut down Antonio Brown, the Steelers’ top wide receiver, allowing only two catches for 14 yards on four targets. He even deflected one of the four passes that came his way while covering Brown.
When all was said and done, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had amassed a 6.3 passer rating when throwing into Jenkins’ coverage. Not bad for a guy who looked like a major liability early in the year.
The big question moving forward is whether or not Jenkins can continue to excel in pass coverage for the Raiders? Prior to his big game against the Steelers, he had allowed 20 of the 28 balls thrown his way to be caught for 249 yards and one touchdown. According to Pro Football Focus, he had earned a -5.6 pass coverage rating before bolstering his season total with a 3.4 showing against Pittsburgh.
The 2009 Pro Bowler has been extremely inconsistent throughout his six years in the NFL. If he can find some stability and get comfortable in the Raiders’ underrated defense, though, there’s no telling how good he can be in Oakland.
The continued improvement of Tracy Porter and D.J. Hayden will definitely help, too.
Don’t hold your breath, but the Raiders might have gotten a free agency steal in Jenkins.