Eagles Wake-Up Call: Secondary School

What does Eric Rowe have to learn to further his education?

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

It didn’t take long for Eric Rowe to notice patterns in the Falcons’ offense when he sat down to watch film Tuesday night.

“I looked at a lot of it last night, trying to get a feel for their route trees,” Rowe said yesterday after practice. “They run a lot of play-action, a lot of bootlegs; not a lot of drop-back passes unless they have to.”

The challenge for Rowe, however, is processing that information from three different perspectives.

Although he played safety his entire life through his junior year of college, Utah moved him to cornerback for his final season. Then, after he was drafted in the second round this year by the Eagles, Philadelphia split his reps in practice between safety, cornerback and nickelback.

“They’re very different,” Rowe said. “They’re completely different responsibilities.”

Rowe, who estimated that 70% of his practice reps comes at the outside corner position, said he practices safety in case of injuries during the season. However, the rookie defensive back doesn’t know yet where he’ll line up in Atlanta on Monday night.

“No one knows the depth chart,” Rowe said. “I don’t know what to expect.”

One key difference between the three positions, according to Rowe, is his responsibility on run plays. At corner it’s simpler, he says, because he typically has to keep the ball inside. At nickel, however, he has inside run fits.

“If it’s a stretch play and you’re the corner, you want to stay outside and force it back inside where all the help is,” Rowe said. “If you’re the nickel and it’s your gap, you want to keep inside leverage and make them bounce it outside to the corner or linebackers scraping.”

Rowe also has to learn different leverages in the passing game. At corner, Rowe explained that coverage is usually straightforward as man-to-man or zone. At nickel, his assignments are typically more fluid between man-to-man and zone on the same play.

“It was tough at first because it’s a new position in a new scheme,” Rowe said of the nickel spot. “But in general, I’m a quick learner so it wasn’t hard for me to get down.”

Rowe has to absorb more information before the snap, as well. At nickel, he says he has more keys, including keeping track of the running back when he’s in zone coverage.

Although he has to learn more by practicing three different positions, Rowe says he benefits from it too.

“It’s a little helpful because I know where other guys will be, which helps me figure out where I should be,” Rowe said. “I feel like I made a lot of progress since the summer time when I got here. I just got to stay on top of that and keep getting better.”


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Still, while Kelly downplayed the element of surprise involved with his own NFL premier, he admitted Quinn inevitably will make calls the Eagles aren’t entirely prepared for.

“I don’t think Dan used everything in the preseason, both offensively and defensively,” Kelly said. “You kind of have to look at the coordinators and where they came from and kind of match up what you think is going to happen, but there will have to be some in-game adjustments, both offensively and defensively, in terms of what we’re preparing for.”

Jeff McLane reports that Vinny Curry is settling in at outside linebacker.

For Curry, the switch to outside linebacker has been, if anything, a stroll compared to his climb from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defensive end two years ago.

“Everybody’s so shocked, but you’ve got to understand, I’ve been playing on the edge my whole life,” Curry said. “The adjustment was two-gapping, staying on the block instead of shedding him. That was the adjustment. Instead, I’m back to boom and I’m out. Now, I’m back to setting the edge.”


We’ll speak to Chip Kelly at 10:50. The season starts tonight at 8:30 in Foxborough!