Fired-up Tim Jernigan brimming with confidence, motivation and swagger


Tim Jernigan’s agent is Drew Rosenhaus, which we bring up only to explain how Jernigan was able to nail the impression so dead on. 

On Tuesday, Jernigan was feeling like himself again at OTAs, healthy, disruptive, looking forward to the start of the 2019 season. But that also meant he was in no mood to look to the past, which is a shame because there’s oh so much to talk about. 

“It don’t matter. I’m here,” the 26-year-old defensive tackle said when asked about everything that’s transpired over the past year in his career. Then, he summoned his inner Rosenhaus. 

“Next question.”

The problem for Jernigan was the next question and many of them after that were not topics he was too keen on discussing either, and it’s certainly understandable why he feels that way. When the Eagles traded for Jernigan in 2017, he instantly became a huge part of their Super Bowl team, so much so that he was rewarded with a four-year, $48 million contract during that season. But last spring, Jernigan injured his back in an incident that is still shrouded in mystery. It forced him to miss most of the 2018 campaign and threatened to end his career. It also wiped out the guaranteed money left in that deal. This offseason, the Eagles declined his option to save $7 million in cap savings and then signed Malik Jackson to replace him. 

Jernigan was on the street until the Eagles brought him back at a shockingly low price: A one-year deal worth $1.25 million with a maximum value of $2 million (see story).

There obviously wasn’t a lot of interest in Jernigan around the league, to which he said, “It is what it is.” 

Has this experience given Jernigan a chip on his shoulder? 

“You’ll see in September,” he said. 

Has it motivated him this whole offseason?

“You’ll see in September,” he said. 

I guess we’ll see in September. 

But because of the addition of Jackson and because Fletcher Cox hasn’t gone anywhere, Jernigan certainly doesn’t have his starting spot locked up anymore. It’s more likely he’ll be a part of the rotation, but he could be a big part of it if he really is healthy. When asked how he’s approaching this season without a starting job, guess what he said? Yeah, we’ll see in September. 

One thing is for certain, though. The guy at the end of last season who was just so happy and relieved that his football career hadn’t ended is officially past that point. He’s not happy just being back on the field; he wants to get back to dominating. 

While Jernigan said he’s embraced Jackson and is eager to learn anything he can from the defensive tackle three years his senior, he also said he wasn’t worried about his own time in Philly being over when Jackson signed. 

“I don’t care,” Jernigan said. “I believe in me. I believe in Timmy. Straight up. I believe in Timmy. I hope nobody take that the wrong way.”

Timmy believes in Timmy because Timmy feels good. He said he’s lost 15 pounds of body fat and is understandably feeling much healthier than he did at any point in 2018. He emphatically stated that he was back on the field last year after lifting weights just six times and running just twice. 

He got distressed when a reporter asked him how hard that was. 

“You gotta listen to what I just said,” Jernigan said, pointing out how obvious it was to him. “It speaks for itself, bro. You’ll see the difference in September then. Ask any coach in here, ask any player in here, what Timmy Jernigan look like? I ain’t gotta brag on myself, I ain’t gotta talk on myself. Ask them. I ain’t gotta say one word. It’s on.”

Even when he’s getting ticked off by questions, there’s just something about Jernigan’s energy, his swagger, that separates him. It’s something the Eagles feel when they’re on the field too. It’s why late last season, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz stressed how important Jernigan was to the spirit of their defense. 

On Tuesday, Jernigan said the defense had passion, just like they did in that magical 2017 season. He thinks it’s important they bring the passion and energy every day. A lot of it comes from him, even if he doesn’t want to boast about it. 

“I’m just here to play football, bro,” Jernigan said. “I want to win games. I’m going to play my part and give them my best. Everything I got, I’m going to give it to them. That’s just who I am as a player. If that comes off as ‘he’s the spirit of the defense’ or whatever, then OK, I accept that. 

“I had to go through some stuff, you understand? But I’m confident and I’m happy about how I came out on the other side.”

I guess we’ll see in September. 

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