December 2, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins (21) celebrates after returning a fumble for a two yard touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half at the Edward Jones Dome. St. Louis defeated San Francisco 16-13 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
At the third quarter mark of the season, it is perfectly reasonable to analysts and pundits alike to begin the talks for the yearly awards in the NFL. Peter King was quoted as saying this year’s MVP race is as “wide-open” as it has ever, although I would challenge someone to make a case against Peyton Manning for the award this season. Regardless, for Rams fans looking for a St. Louis player on the list, MVP is probably not the category that you should be looking at for comfort. In seasons past, especially with the amount of high draft picks, the St. Louis faithful could typically bank on having at least one player in the rookie of the year discussions. This year is no exception, with rumbling that one rookie might be theforerunner for one of the two rookie prizes.
If you haven’t already narrowed it down to the defensive side of the ball, than clearly you haven’t been watching football this season, especially given the spectacular seasons that Andrew Luck, Doug Martin, and Alfred Morris/Robert Griffin III are having. With the offense out of the question, Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter has cornerback Janoris Jenkins leading the race for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Most in Rams Nation could have guessed that his recent 3 defensive touchdowns in two games would turn some heads. However, no one probably guessed he would skyrocketed to the top as the favorite. Here is what Trotter has to say about Jenkins,
"1. Janoris Jenkins, Rams (3). A starter from Week 1, the cagey cornerback scored his third touchdown in the last two games, this time returning a fumble two yards for a score to help St. Louis upset San Francisco. The previous week he returned two picks for touchdowns."
To be fair, Trotter did previously have Jenkins at the third spot on the list, behind Bobby Wagner and Davonte Davis. Still, it is hard to image that he has been closely watching the Rams games if he honestly believes that Jenkins is at the top of the list after some of his performances this season.
Jenkins did start the season off hot, picking off Matthew Stafford in his first career start against the Detriot Lions. However, he ran into some problems towards the middle of the season. Although Craig Dahl received a majority of the blame, Jenkins was getting burnt on at least one big play per game it seemed, starting with the touchdown pass in Miami where he was caught staring in the backfield as the receiver trotted by for the go-ahead touchdown catch. More recently, Rams fans across the country could be heard screaming at Jenkins to play up on the line of scrimmage during the San Francisco 49ers game. Aside from the fumble recovery, roll, and touchdown, Jenkins was likely the least valuable player on the defense in that win. He alone allowed 9 receptions for 70+ yards on his side of the field, and could have cost the Rams more, had the rest of the defense not been completely in-sync.
No one will be complaining if Jenkins were to get the award, but it is hard to image that the is the front runner right now. However, Jenkins is going to have a lot of pressure focused on him in the coming games, especially with the caliber of running back that the Rams will be playing over the next four Sundays. The St. Louis defense will likely have to play out their base 4-3 in order to slow the oppositions’ running attack, which will lead to more man-to-man converage on the outside for Finnegan and Jenkins. Luckily, both the Minnesota Vikings and Buffalo Bills’ top receivers will be out, with Stevie Johnson nursing an injury and Percy Harvin being placed on IR earlier this week. Regardless, should he perform well for the remainder of the season and eventually bring home the trophy, St. Louis will have an drafted two “rookie of the year” players in a three year span (Sam Bradford in 2010)… not too shabby.