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Cullen Jenkins talks lessons learned from 2015

Posted Jan 12, 2016

DT Cullen Jenkins spoke with Giants.com following a disappointing 2015 regular season


Cullen Jenkins has been a part of 12 season-ending meetings with three different teams throughout his NFL career.
 
They have ranged from the highest of highs, like the one after his Packers won Super Bowl XLV, to those of disappointment, like the one the Giants recently held after a 6-10 finish to the 2015 season.

Each has its own story.

While they didn’t know officially at the time, the Monday after the season finale was the players’ last time with Tom Coughlin. After 12 years and two Super Bowls, he stepped down as head coach, but not before delivering one last message to his team.  

“The biggest message is just keep fighting,” Jenkins said. “Learn from what happened, what we went through and then to keep fighting and move forward.”

The Giants are in the process of doing the latter as president John Mara and general manager Jerry Reese, as of Tuesday, had conducted initial interviews with six candidates for Coughlin’s replacement.

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It’s the beginning of a new era, but that’s not to say there weren’t lessons learned from 2015.

“Just being good isn’t enough,” Jenkins said. “You’ve got to take it to that next step, and we weren’t able to do that this year. We’ve got to learn how to finish games, learn how to close teams out, and that was the difference between us still being able to play right now and going home.

“A lot of times, it’s the little things. It’s a fine line between being a winning team and a losing team in this game. If you can get over those things and cross that line, you’ll be all right.”

The Giants learned that the hard way, losing three of their games by a field goal and two more by one point.

“We thought we would get things corrected, and we were always trying to get better and improve throughout the course of the year,” Jenkins said. “Getting JPP [Jason Pierre-Paul] back was huge for us inside and helping us to be more complete as a front and getting pressure on the quarterbacks. We hoped that the better play and all that stuff would help us to start close teams out and start to move in the right direction.”

No matter who becomes the next coach, those will surely be among the goals for 2016.

As for Jenkins next season, we’ll see.

The veteran defensive tackle played in all 16 games for the eighth time in his career, recording 26 tackles (three for loss), three sacks and eight quarterback hits in his third season with the Giants. But will he be back?

“No retirement yet in the future,” said Jenkins, who has played in 177 games throughout his career, including postseason. “But I’m a free agent and I’ll take some time to step away from the game here in the next month or so, spend time with the family and just relax and let me my body heal up and see where it goes from there.”