After being named the Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year in the week leading up to Super Bowl XLV, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick touched upon the Packers-Steelers match-up on NFL Network, and one particular nugget stood out to me:
I think Green Bay is very explosive offensively and they have excellent coverage people in the secondary, along with a good pass rush. I think getting [Cullen] Jenkins back is a big boost for them defensively, and of course, we didn't play against [Aaron] Rodgers.
The fact that Belichick mentioned defensive end Cullen Jenkins, the younger brother of New York Jets defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, as a "big boost" could be telling. Jenkins will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason (assuming there eventually is free agency), and with the Patriots in need of a right defensive end, Jenkins could be a potential fit.
Having just turned 30 last month, Jenkins produced seven sacks in just eleven games for the Packers this season. Something that has intrigued me about Jenkins is his ability to rush the passer from the defensive end position on third downs, as we saw at times in the Super Bowl. In a lot of ways, the Packers used Jenkins similar to a 4-3 defensive end, capitalizing on his speed and quickness for a man of his size (6'2", 305 lbs). And speaking of his size, he is also a capable run defender who can hold up at the point of attack. All in all, Jenkins appears to have a lot of the traits that the Patriots look for in their 3-4 right ends, even if he doesn't have that great height that Richard Seymour had. He should also come at a fairly reasonable price (4 years, $20 million?).
What are you thoughts on Jenkins in a Patriots uniform?