FOWLER'S DISPARAGING COMMENTS ABOUT JAGS OFFER FURTHER PROOF THAT TEAM MADE CORRECT DECISION TRADING HIM
On Monday Sports Illustrated posted a piece that's main focus was Dante Fowler Jr. — the Jaguars traded the former third overall pick midseason — and his "rebirth" in Los Angeles, where he's now on the way to his first appearance in Football's biggest game, the Super Bowl.
In the interview Fowler made several disparaging comments about his former team. He told Robert Klemco of SI.com "After I tore my ACL I feel like they gave up on me going into my next training camp. These three years I was trying to prove to them I was a guy they could trust, and I was trying to be the guy they drafted me to be. But I never got a chance to start a game. When it’s all said and done, I feel like they gave up on me."
"Yannick came and did what he was supposed to do, and that’s when I fell back into the shadows. I used to always go and ask why I was sitting on the bench. I can admit, I was depressed. I’ve never been in a bad place like that before, and that was one of the darkest times of my life. It made me question my love of football. I dreaded going to work, knowing how people feel about you and think about you. I had a dark cloud following me."
I, as almost anyone assuredly would, empathize with Fowler about the torn ACL he suffered during his rookie season. But he's clearly missed the mark on a few of these comments. For Fowler to think that the team gave up on him going into his first active season is absurd. The team actually did quite a bit to show Fowler just how much they supported him. You see, Dante tore his ACL prior to negotiating his rookie contract. With his injury the Jaguars could have easily taken away some of the guaranteed money in his deal, but instead, as a show of good faith, the Jaguars went ahead and gave Fowler the same deal that they had discussed with his representation prior to the knee injury.
Fowler's agent went so far as to say this about the Jaguars organization after all was said an done: "They showed a full commitment to Dante. It’s refreshing and they deserve credit as one of the best organizations and places to play in the NFL."
In professional sports money talks. The Jaguars did their part in ensuring that Fowler would be taken care of and have his shot once he was ready to return to the field.
Fowler's biggest problem — outside of his maturity, or lack thereof — was the fact that Yannick Ngakoue came in as a rookie in 2016 and played like a man possessed throughout training camp. Meanwhile, Fowler was slow to get back on track and regain his footing. Heading into the 2016 season it was clear to anyone watching the team closely that the Jaguars had struck gold with Yannick Ngakoue in the third round, but perhaps, had missed the mark the year prior with their third overall pick. Even though Ngakoue was outperforming Fowler on the practice field, the two saw a relatively similar amount of play during the first stretch of the 2016 campaign. Fowler saw at least 48 defensive snaps in five of the first six games that year. But as the season went on it was quite clear that Ngakoue was the better pass rusher and player. Ngakoue finished his rookie year with eight sacks, while Fowler managed just four.
After that 2016 season it was plain as day, Yannick Ngakoue would be the Jaguars pass rushing centerpiece of the future. Can you blame them? The Jaguars didn't give up on Fowler. Instead, he just got outplayed by a better, harder working pass rusher. And it's not as if the coaching staff could just flip him to start on the other side of the line. Calais Campbell, who has piled up 25.5 sacks in his first two years with the club, is the starting strong side defensive end.
Fowler went on to say:
"We (Los Angeles) have a lot of star power, guys with accolades, rings, Hall of Fame credentials, but these guys are humble and they put all that behind them. They keep the main thing the main thing."
"It took me coming here to realize that we weren’t humble about it. Other teams were hungrier than us."
Fowler's fortunes have obviously changed for the better, at least in the short term. His team is playing in the Super Bowl this Sunday, while the Jaguars are sitting at home. But for him to indite the Jaguars for a lack of humility is laughable. If anything, Dante Fowler Jr. was one of the biggest problem's in the locker room. On multiple occasions Fowler butted heads with teammates. He was slow to recover from a shoulder issue heading into the 2018 season and then was suspended one game by the NFL to start the year for a violation of the player conduct policy. Fowler is an athlete that has repeatedly been arrested and cited for legal issues that stem from a lack of maturity. Humility is not something Fowler has shown in any capacity since joining the Jaguars in 2015.
In terms of hunger, this was a team that never quit. Despite dealing with a horrendous passing game, a bevy of injuries to the offensive line and tight end group, the 2018 Jaguars never quit. There were competitive on the defensive side of the ball, finishing as a top five overall defense for the second straight season. And the defense actually performed better after Fowler was traded away.
The Jaguars made the right decision shipping off DFJ. They got strong value from the underperforming pass rusher, acquiring a third and fifth round pick from the Rams. Jacksonville certainly wasn't going to be able extend Fowler or re-sign him. They've got plenty of other pressing needs in terms of contract extensions including Jalen Ramsey, Yannick Ngakoue, and Myles Jack.
Will Dante Fowler Jr. go on to have a successful NFL career? Perhaps. But he was a role player with an expiring contract who caused problems in the locker room. The Jaguars, without question, made the right decision shipping him off to Los Angeles. Fowler struggled to see the big picture throughout his time in Jacksonville and it appears that he still has trouble understanding the reality of the NFL.
Sour grapes make for cheap whine, Dante.