Fowler has been spending most of the offseason working out away from the Falcons’ facility, but he did attend mandatory minicamp this past week in Flowery Branch and head coach Arthur Smith liked what he saw.
“It was good to see Dante,” Smith told reporters on Thursday, June 10. “He’s in good shape. Physically, he’s done a nice job. He’s been training. This is the trust you have. These are grown men. When they come in and out here, he knows what the expectation is for training camp. Dante has looked good so far.”
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Falcons LB Coach Confident in Turning Fowler Around
Fowler was originally drafted third overall in the 2015 NFL draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was traded to the Los Angeles Rams in 2018 where he helped them reach a Super Bowl appearance.
Fowler inked a three-year, $45 million deal as a free agent with the Falcons last offseason, but a high ankle sprain kept him from duplicating another 11.5 sack season.
After he recorded just three sacks in 2020, Atlanta asked him to take an incentive-laden contract that will pay him by the sack next season.
Falcons’ new outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino has a lot of faith in turning Fowler’s production around.
“The most I remember about Dante is when he came out of college, he was the prototype, the No. 1 guy in that draft that year,” Monachino said via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “When I looked at him, I knew that the league was strange in certain ways, I hoped that I could coach him right away, but at some point in his career, I’d hoped that, and he and I crossed paths.”
Monachino added “I’m excited to get (Fowler) going. Get him here and see how far we get down the road with him. He’s a talented, tough and rugged man. I think once we apply those things to his game on all three downs, I think it’s going to help our defense and help our team.”
Can Fowler Really Get Back to His 2019 Self?
Fowler bouncing back to his 2019 form and leading the team with double-digit sacks could be an overstatement in the midst of a defense that’s in rebuild mode.
Last season was a career-low for Fowler, but his health was the primary reason for missing several tackles and sacks. He also wasn’t playing alongside talented guys such as Aaron Donald at the Rams, who gave him the room to create pressure and take down opposing QBs.
Here’s a look at Fowlers’ pressure rates per PFF:
The closest thing the Falcons have to Donald is Grady Jarrett, but still, that’s just a one-man band. And according to the numbers above, it looks like 2019 could have just been a really good year for Fowler.
Hopefully, under Dean Pees’s new defense, the Falcons can turn things around as a whole unit, thus creating more opportunities for Fowler.
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