Film Review: Eric Rowe’s Struggles

What mistakes can the rookie defensive back learn from?

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Eric Rowe thought the Jets were picking on him in the preseason finale. The defensive back has shown early improvement as he’s made the jump from college to the NFL, but Thursday displayed much further he has to go.

“I know I had a few mistakes,” Rowe said. “They were obvious so it’s nothing I can blame on anyone but myself. I can’t wait to go home and watch the film and see what I did wrong so I can correct it.”

What, exactly, will Rowe see when he watches that film? We picked out a few plays and talked to the rookie about his struggles.

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Early in the Jets’ second offensive series, Matt Flynn completed a 14-yard-pass to Chris Owusu. After committing a penalty for illegal use of the hands, Rowe allowed Owusu to create separation at the top of the receiver’s route as he cut to the outside.

Rowe previously explained how one of the toughest adjustments for him is using his hands less and his feet more in man-to-man coverage. On this play, however, he does neither. After drawing the flag, he got turned around a bit as Owusu got open for the first down.

Later that drive, Flynn completed a 28-yard pass to Walter Powell. On this play, Rowe didn’t have good balance and footwork and failed to get his hands on the receiver at all. Because of that, Powell, who made a good move, easily got open and could’ve scored a touchdown if Flynn had thrown a better pass.

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“Foot work is very important because now the receivers have better technique also,” Rowe said. “Footwork and press technique is a lot more important here than in college.”

Three plays later, Flynn threw a 13-yard completion to Owusu. Rowe again allowed his receiver to get separation at the top of the route as he cut outside.

After the game, Rowe revealed he is more comfortable playing in the slot against a bigger receiver than a small, shifty guy. Although Owusu has good size at 6’2″, he’s known for his speed as he tied for the fastest 40-yard dash time among receivers at the 2012 combine.

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“With a bigger guy, I can get my hands on him and know he’s not going to run away from me,” Rowe said. “If it’s a smaller guy, I got to get on my toes. If I know it’s a big guy and I can get my hands on him, I feel like I’m good and I can keep up with him.”

Those three plays accounted for 55 of the 90 yards the Jets gained on that touchdown drive. However, Defensive Coordinator Bill Davis reminded reporters after Thursday’s game that one of the benefits of the preseason is improving through failure.

“Sometimes it’s better to fail than to succeed out there when you’re young,” Davis said when asked about Rowe. “You learn what works, you learn what doesn’t work. You learn this speed of the defense, so he had some good plays and some bad plays. It was a mix and they all grow from it.”

Adam Hermann contributed to this post.