Usually when a New England disciple gets an opportunity to coach elsewhere, it affects the NFL landscape. And while many are filled with uncertainty and doubt, one thing is for certain— the age old saying ‘birds of a feather, flock together” could not hold more true.
So when Brian Flores took over the Dolphins’ coaching job, we began to watch this transpire with the coaching staff. One after another, he poached his way from the top, to the bottom of Bill Belichick’s staff. And the end result? The end result was a pretty impressive staff for a first-time head coach. But what about the roster?
Much like he did with his coaching staff, Flores looked for players that he, or his staff, may have coached in college or professionally. One player Flores was very familiar with was Eric Rowe. And when Miami inked Rowe to a 1-year deal worth $3.5-million guaranteed, one thing was very clear. Rowe would have an opportunity to prove his worth on a new roster, as the team’s inevitable #2 defensive back.
Let’s take a look at Eric Rowe and what he can bring to the 2019 Miami Dolphins.
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Coming out of college, Eric Rowe was highly sought after by NFL scouts, and general managers alike. Rowe’s play at the University of Utah was impressive to say the least. During his time in college, Rowe accumulated 261 total tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and 3 interceptions. His consistent production coupled with an impressive combine, was enough for him to be drafted in the second-round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Trade with the Dolphins
the trade the dolphins made with the eagles in 2016, allowed philly to draft the defensive back from utah. miami would then select phillips, lippett, and current slot corner bobby mccain with their return. pic.twitter.com/7Mb2mjuW3R— josh houtz (@houtz) June 26, 2019
Had the Dolphins not made the trade with Philadelphia, nobody knows how Rowe’s fate may have changed. Miami, would have missed out on Jordan Phillips, Tony Lippett, and Bobby McCain. So everything happens for a reason. Now, with his third NFL team, Rowe wants to prove he has what it takes to be a starting cornerback in the league. And with a coaching staff that he already has familiarity with, his chances are better now than ever.
When Rowe was asked earlier in the offseason about taking first-team reps opposite of Xavien Howard, and what it meant for him to be a starting cornerback again in the NFL, this this is what he said:
“Mhm. Yeah. It’s just important to me to stay healthy. Right now, I know he has me running with the ones, but for me it’s just trying to improve each day because it’s not just competing – obviously against young corners here that are really good – but it’s competing with guys on all 32 teams and all of the receivers out there. Kind of through my years in New England, I learned that you’re not just competing with the guys – you have to compete with yourself because there’s receivers on the Falcons, the Seahawks or whoever we play that are really good, so you have to get ready for them.”
At times during the 2016 Super Bowl, Rowe was asked to cover one of the NFL’s top wide receivers in Julio Jones. Everyone knows what type of talent Jones is. And to ask any defensive back to cover Jones for as long as Matt Ryan had in the pocket-is a travesty.
In this play, Rowe is at the top of the screen and even with the sideline creeping closer and closer, Jones still managed to turn the young DB inside out. Thankfully, the Dolphins would have Xavien Howard covering Jones, which would be a Heavyweight Title match for the ages. Nevertheless, this gives you a small sample of what Rowe did vs #elite talent.
Below is another example of Rowe from his Super Bowl performance vs Atlanta. This time, however, he plays good, physical coverage against Taylor Gabriel. Yes, Rowe has Gabriel by a few inches and several more pounds, but he moves him like an immortal pushing a small helpless child.
Believe it or not, the last interception Rowe made in a NFL game came in Week 16 of the 2016 season. New England was playing the New York Jets, and the quarterback at the time was none other than Ryan Fitzpatrick. Brandon Marshall was in one-on-one coverage. And in typical Fitzmagic fashion, he took a shot.
Here’s a look at the interception.
many believe eric rowe is the front runner for the #dolphins #2 CB spot-opposite of xavien howard. and whether or not he can stay healthy, is a big factor.— josh houtz (@houtz) June 26, 2019
rowe's last interception came on 12/24/16 vs the JESTs. the starting QB for new york was ryan fitzpatrick. pic.twitter.com/n3Ab5N6a5p
And now two plays vs the Dolphins from the Monday Night game in 2017.
The first one shows him contributing in the run game. This isn’t the best representation of everything he can do as a run stopper, but Rowe is about as sure as it gets. And whether he’s one-on-one in the open field with one of the NFL’s top running backs, or he’s in the flats with a wide receiver, he’s going to make the play.
Play 1, is a routine tackle that prevents any more damage from occurring.
Play 2, is Rowe shadowing Jarvis Landry. Whom he stops immediately for a loss of one yard. Great awareness to read the play and to act immediately. This may have been a huge gain if it wasn’t for Rowe’s natural awareness. He’s got talent, but whether or not he can stay healthy will remain the deciding factor.
In the end, whether it’s Cordrea Tankersley like Aaron Sutton suggested, or Eric Rowe like I indicated. Whoever wins the Dolphins #2 cornerback position, will play a key factor in the team’s 2019 success. For me, it comes down to which player is the most talented and has the better chance of becoming a bonafide star. And for as much as I liked what Tankersley did as a rookie, I have to believe Rowe is the most likely candidate. This will be one of the most intriguing camp battles of the summer. and how it plays out could pay dividends in 2019 and beyond.