After bad game, Jarrett vows to fix mistakes
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Jaiquawn Jarrett showed a burst of speed, lowered his shoulder and handed out a punishing hit.
The problem: he took out his own teammate, rookie defensive end Vinny Curry, as Pittsburgh’s Jonathan Dwyer scurried up the middle for a 33-yard gain in the Eagles’ 24-23 preseason win on Thursday.
“I took a bad angle,” he said about the missed tackle on Dwyer. “No excuses. I have to get the man, get the ball-carrier, on the ground.”
Jarrett had a bad day on Thursday on a night when he needed a good one.
The second-year, second-round draft pick out of Temple, started the Eagles’ first preseason game in place of the injured Nate Allen and missed a golden opportunity to prove he belongs in the NFL.
“At this part of my career, I’m going to continue to get better,” he said. “That’s what I’m looking forward to doing.”
A few plays after Dwyer’s big first-down run, Jarrett had another opportunity to make a play, this time to prevent a touchdown, and he was barely visible. Steelers’ wideout Emmanuel Sanders started outside and cut across the field. Nnamdi Asomugha left Sanders for Jarrett in the middle and Jarrett was simply late getting there.
“I was supposed to be in the window of the slant,” Jarrett said. “That was all me. I was supposed to be the window in the slant.
“No confusion. I should have been right there. I didn’t execute what I was supposed to execute.”
Without Allen (hamstring), O.J. Atogwe still learning the Eagles’ defense and the only other safeties on the roster being Wade Bonner and Phillip Thomas, Jarrett got an opportunity to play well into the second half.
“Again, we all saw it," Andy Reid said. "He can work on his angles and he can work on the tackling part and those are things that he did very well in college. I think it’s just a matter of more snaps, just continuing to play and you know the problem; go ahead and fix. I think he’ll do that."
Jarrett did make two tackles in Pittsburgh’s first offensive series but looked lost at times and missed another open field tackle badly in the first quarter. But according to one teammate, Jarrett started to correct some of those mistakes.
“Throughout the game, I saw him get better,” the other starting safety, Kurt Coleman, said. “He was making improvements on things. He made mistakes in the first quarter that he didn’t make in the third quarter.”
Out of Temple, Jarrett was known as a big hitter. Now, it’s his tackling that is struggling. His former head coach at Temple, Al Golden, now the head coach at Miami, said Jarrett was the best tackler he has seen in his 20-plus years of football.
That hasn’t translated to the NFL. At least, not yet.
“I think I need to improve,” Jarrett said. “I think I need to do a better job of bringing my feet on tackles and executing.”
He played in 12 games last season and started just two, even with the team’s well-noted struggles up the middle of the field. Coming out of college, his big-hit ability even had him being compared with Eagles’ great Brian Dawkins. Entering his second year in the NFL, Jarrett is a long way away from greatness, Pro Bowls and even a starting job.
“He knows what he has to do and he knows what he has to work on and what he has to fix and he’ll handle that,” Allen said. “It’s just the fundamentals. We just have to work day in and day out and Jaiquawn … he’s gonna be great.”
Jarrett said he has struggled before, in both high school and college and he was able overcome those struggles. Now, he has to try to do the same in the NFL.
“Yeah, that’s how I got here,” he said. “Throughout life, you’re always going to go through hard times and hardships and you continue to fight through them. In high school and college, I had hard times and I got through them.”
Jarrett said he has to improve. First, he has to just move on from the poor game on Thursday and work to get better.
“It’s always frustrating to not play well,” he said. “I’m gonna bounce back. Looking at the game film, correcting my mistakes and I won’t let it happen again.” E-mail Dave Zangaro at firstname.lastname@example.org