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Dante Fowler says Jaguars ‘gave up’ on him after rookie season

NFL: New York Jets at Jacksonville Jaguars Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars have never been to a Super Bowl. Dante Fowler, in his first season away from the team, is headed to his first.

After leaving for the Los Angeles Rams in a midseason trade that saw the former first round pick go in exchange for a third round selection, Fowler has not been subtle about his frustration while in Jacksonville.

Robert Klemko of recently spoke with Fowler about his early years here and maybe what went wrong and Fowler’s comments are... way off base.

“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.”

Simply put, the Jaguars did everything they could to give Fowler a chance to develop into a starter. They guaranteed his rookie contract in full, worked with him through multiple tickets and arrests, and stuck by him even after a suspension this past preseason. He threw a man’s grocery bag into a lake and was charged with simple battery, criminal mischief, and petty theft for God’s sake.

But it’s everyone else’s fault, according to Fowler — Yannick Ngakoue did too well, the team didn’t put him in the right spot, he didn’t get enough starts.

The truth is Fowler averaged about 50 percent of defensive snaps per game in 2016 and 2017 and he was very hot and cold in that time, collecting 14.0 sacks and 22 quarterbacks hits over 39 games in his Jaguars career. Not only that, many of the opportunities he received were obvious passing downs, meaning his efficiency rate should be much greater than 0.7 sacks per a full game worth of snaps.