Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler, Jr. knows that he needs to put in the work this offseason to help rebound from a disappointing "rookie" season in 2016. The 2017 season is going to be critical for him, at least in the eyes of a lot of the public who have been comparing his first season in the NFL to that of Atlanta Falcons pass rush Vic Beasley, who looked like a superstar in his second season.
I'm not sure that I expect that kind of second year for Fowler, as he's first got to unseat second-year defensive end Yannick Ngakoue was the weakside starter on the defensive line, but he did have a few flashes in his first season. Flashes clearly aren't enough for new head coach Doug Marrone, though.
"You saw flashes [last year] and we saw the athletic ability and, at times, the competiveness from Dante," Marrone told Ryan O'Halloran of The Florida Times-Union. "But we're looking for players that are consistent with their production."
The first part of Marrone's comment begins like a standard coach speak answer, but it quickly takes a harsh turn. One thing you don't ever like to see questioned about a player, as that player or as a fan, is a player's competitiveness. I'm not sure if this was a message being sent to Fowler by Marrone, but this is clearly stating that the competitiveness wasn't always there.
The harshness didn't end there, though, when Marrone tacked on the "players that are consistent with their production." As mentioned, Fowler did show a few flashes last season in the form of some big hits and a few plays on stunts on the defensive line, but there was no consistency there whatsoever. His rookie season was a bit like former Jaguars lineman and current Miami Dolphins defensive end Andre Branch, where most of his big plays were against the run and on stunts where he was able to run free.
It's not really a complete burial of Fowler by Marrone, but it is a clear message being sent to the young pass rusher.