Back in May, the Eagles traded up in the second round to select Utah defensive back, Eric Rowe. I was a huge fan of this selection and insisted that he should be starting come the beginning of the season. After seeing him play in camp, in preseason games and watching the Eagles defense in their first two weeks of regular season play, I am still absolutely positive of his needing to start.
Not only is he not starting, he is not on the field at all for the defense. Even in nickel and dime packages, the Eagles would rather throw Chris Maragos and E.J. Biggers out there instead of the young, athletic player they invested heavily in during the draft. There is no logic that supports this line of thinking. When asked about Biggers getting put in over Rowe, defensive coordinator Billy Davis said:
"We just felt putting E.J. out there with the experience right now, we are going to rotate them. They will both get a little work in there. Right now, we just felt E.J. has a little one up on Eric as far as where they are mentally."
That is an incredibly flawed way of thinking. There is nothing to support that Rowe is picking up the game any faster from the sidelines. Of course he will be a step or two behind a veteran mentally, he is a rookie who has not been able to see the field. Rookies need to be allowed to make mistakes in order to learn from them. A classic example is during Texans' first round pick Kareem Jackson's rookie year in 2010, he spent the entire season getting absolutely roasted. He was abysmal with many people calling that he was a bust. What happened from that year? He learned, he improved and just this passed summer he signed an extension with the Texans and is one of the better corners in the league. Corner is an incredibly hard position to play in today's NFL, but players are not going to make massive strides standing and watching Nolan Carroll, Chris Maragos and E.J. Biggers play, especially when none of them are playing well.
The secondary is still finding its legs and I could understand Rowe not immediately starting on the outside, but he needs to see time on the field on nickel downs. Keeping Carroll on the outside, asking Jenkins to cover the slot and then throwing Maragos out at safety leaves the Eagles at an athletic disadvantage at the back end of their defense. Keep Jenkins at safety, because he's very good there, have Carroll slide inside and then let Rowe get experience on the outside. If he makes mistakes, let him make them. That is the key to growth in football (and life) is learning from mistakes. It is not like Carroll, Biggers or Maragos are world beaters or even decent players as it stands.
With Rowe on the sidelines, the team is doing nothing but a disservice to him and the defense, both short term and long. He is an incredibly physical and athletic player and the team is only stalling his development by not letting him play.