A friend who covered baseball once shared with me an all-fun anecdote from a manger they covered. This manager told my friend there are two types of guys in a clubhouse: “Ballplayers and mothercluckers.” Only he didn’t say clucker.
That story came to mind on Monday Night Football, as I watched Teven Jenkins play in his debut as a starting left tackle because I came away with the impression that the rookie is a motherclucker. And I mean that as a compliment. For instance, this rocked my socks:
— Sky Kruse (@KruseSports_) December 21, 2021
That rep was everything the Bears were dreaming of when they made a trade up to draft Jenkins in Round 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft. Athleticism to get to the edge. An ability to maul dudes in space. Plus the tenacity to be an enforcer through (and past) the echo of the whistle. That is what offensive line play is supposed to look like. And it’s certainly something the Bears should be desiring from each of their linemen (as well as others they bring in down the line).
Even with the positive vibes emanating from above, it’s this play that will be the most memorable:
Teven Jenkins didn't like the Vikings shoving Fields out of bounds, he gets flagged for unnecessary roughness, Bears guard #74 Germain Ifedi wasn't happy with Jenkins and shoved him. pic.twitter.com/z5qjXfnU9d
— ✯✯✯✯✯ (@FTB_Vids_YT) December 21, 2021
Silly penalty? Sure was. It’s never a good thing when you’re putting your offense behind the sticks. Chicago’s offense already has enough issues operating in neutral or even favorable situations. But this Bears team has been taking crap for far too long, and someone had to push back. Jenkins did what so many others have failed to do in recent years. That’s because he is a motherclucker. And because of it, I think he’ll be OK.
To be clear, I’m not clearing space in Canton just yet. Jenkins is a work in progress. There are things in his game that need to be smoothed out, but that is to be expected from a player in his third professional game. Among the issues that need cleaning up is the penalty problem. False starts at home are unacceptable. Blocking without holding is something to work on moving forward, as well. And sure, there will be a chorus hoping Jenkins can tidy up the most egregious unnecessary penalties. But allow that to be done naturally.
Let me make it perfectly clear. I do not condone actions that will put your team behind the 8-ball or even get you tossed from games of consequence. HOWEVER, the sticking up for your teammates is a penalty I’ll gladly accept. Germain Ifedi shouldn’t have chastised Jenkins for doing the right thing. Jenkins should not have felt the wrath of a teammate after doing something that was a long-time coming. Moving forward, the Bears need a little nasty in their game. Jenkins provides that. And should he continue to show off that relentless mauling style as he did for most of last night, he’ll be fine.