The Indianapolis Colts lost one of the most promising members of their coaching staff this offseason when cornerbacks coach Jonatha Gannon left for the Philadelphia Eagles.
However, they replaced him with a young coach whose star may turn out burning just as bright in James Rowe.
Rowe spent 2017-19 in the NFL with the Washington Football Team but otherwise spent much of the last decade in the college ranks, primarily coaching defense. Last year, he was the cornerbacks coach for Appalachian State, and prior to that even coached Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II as the defensive coordinator for Valdosta State in 2016.
Rowe recently spoke with reporters for the first time since joining the Colts.
These are the quick hits.
Rowe has been paying attention to the Colts for a while: When asked what led him to Indianapolis, Rowe said the Colts reached out to him, but that he'd taken notice of them a while back.
It just seems like a consistent organization, have good leadership at the top, a team that works hard. My three years in Washington and really just watching film of the Colts and seeing how hard guys play – guys running to the ball.
Then obviously the secondary, and getting the chance to reunite with somebody I’m familiar with (Moore) is awesome. I’m looking for big things out of the group. I haven’t gotten a chance to meet many of the guys yet, but watching them on film, we’ve got a good group. We’ve got some youth, we’ve got some older guys. So just looking forward to this season and building upon what we did last year.
Rowe has ties to the Colts that helped bring him to Indianapolis: Between Moore, Colts linebackers coach Dave Borgonzi and Gannon, Rowe had plenty that helped put him with the Colts.
Me and Coach Borgonzi worked the Shrine Game together a few years back and we’ve stayed in touch since then.
Obviously, I think they asked Kenny Moore about me throughout the process and I had a relationship with Jonathan Gannon as well. So the Colts reached out and it led to an interview and things went from there.
Being "the new guy," it's important for the Colts to have retained a veteran leader like Xavier Rhodes: With the Colts having the bulk of their cornerback group back from 2020, including the starters, Rowe can catch himself up without having to worry about getting a bunch of new players up to speed as well.
It’s going to help a lot. Obviously, we’ve got our starting corners back so that helps a lot. For me being the new guy, I’m playing catch up right now. This is the first time I’ve ever been on a staff where I am the only new guy on that side of the ball so I’ve been playing a lot of catch up.
Obviously like you just mentioned, it’s going to help having guys that are experienced with the system. There are going to be times when I have to lean on them and ask them maybe how they did something last year or what’s comfortable for them.
Rhodes' size and athleticism make him an asset to the Colts defense: Rowe mentions that Rhodes is big enough to cover big receivers and athletic enough to cover the small guys, which makes him a critical asset to their group.
Well, he is a big, strong, fast athlete. He is a very noticeable guy when he steps on the field – I remember when we played Minnesota when I was at Washington, he stands out. So obviously he has great physical attributes. He has a lot of experience. He’s been successful in the NFL.
He is a guy that can help young guys as well and just his ability to match up with different types of wide receivers. He’s big so he can handle the bigger guys and he is athletic so he can handle the small guys as well. He had a great year for us last year and obviously we want to build on that and do even better.
Although there are mixed reviews on Colts third-year cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, Rowe thinks he'll be a really good player: Rowe has a plan for how to improve Ya-Sin's game and help him become a more consistent player.
Rock is a good young talent, and I think with anybody coming to the NFL there is a process of growth and I think he is going through his process right now. But he has a lot of attributes that I am looking forward to coach and getting the most out of him. I think he has a bright future in the NFL...
I think one of the main things we're probably gonna work on most of this spring is hand placement. Sometimes, he gets his hands a little high on the wide receivers and it causes him to tug a couple times, and that's something we can correct in the whole group. And just getting used to playing the ball better and feeling more comfortable out there.
Like I said, I think he has all the ability in the world and I think he's gonna be really good in this league. You know, you face tough wide receivers, it's tough out there, man. It's a tough position.
Rowe and Moore have a history: As we mentioned, Rowe coached Moore previously at Valdosta State, and Rowe has held him in high regard since then.
So, I was the genius that moved Kenny in college from corner to strong safety and then eventually to nickel. So some of those tools come about at nickel that he learned from safety.
At the end of the day with Kenny, the great athlete, (he) does all the little things right, but the human being is even better. Whenever you're around somebody that's that type of human, you know they're gonna find a way to be successful no matter what they do. It's been awesome to see him grow.
I wish we would've got him in Washington back when I was there. Even that process of getting cut by the Patriots and then the Colts picking him up and taking a chance on him, and he's flourished in that role.
I've preached to a lot of guys that I've coached in college or mentor that Kenny Moore is the standard of what you can become. Don't count yourself out.
Are you glad to see the Colts add Rowe given his history with members of the Colts? Drop your thoughts below in the comment section!