We’re continuing our countdown to the opening game of the Dallas Cowboys 2023 regular season. Each day we’ll present a new player whose jersey number represents the countdown to opening day. Today is number 56.
Defensive Snaps: 378 (30%)
Defensive Stops: 15
Forced Fumbles: 2
Dante Fowler Jr. joined the Florida Gators in 2012 and was put to work at the outside linebacker position straight away. He quickly found success as a pass rusher, but doing so by coming inside his man as opposed to going around him. He would shed weight to make his technique faster and more explosive, and it worked. What made Fowler stand out during his time at Florida was not his ability to get in the backfield quickly and consistently, it was how he managed to do it during moments of the game when it mattered most. His pass rush efficiency on third-down and during the fourth quarter were the highest in the entire draft class. He played both in the two-point stance from the linebacker position and also with his hand down as a traditional defensive end, but most of his success came when playing as a stand up linebacker.
He left Florida after the 2014 season, choosing to forgo his senior season. He recorded 140 tackles, 33 tackles for loss, 14.5 sacks and five forced fumbles during his three seasons with the Gators. His production along with efficient and aggressive run-stopping ability made him a much sought after prospect in the draft.
Fowler had quite a hectic start to his career in the NFL. It’s started with him missing his rookie after tearing his ACL on the first day of mini camp, the next season he only managed to make one start. In 2017, he did much better and recorded eight sacks but in 2018 the Jaguars decided to decline his fifth-year option. What followed was a dispute between Fowler and Jacksonville over an improper fine, and this would be the final nail in the coffin for Fowler and his employment with the Jags.
He would play the next season for the L.A. Rams, performing much better for the team but he would then move to Atlanta. He would play at the Atlanta Falcons with Dan Quinn for one season and this would be important for what followed. The next year when Quinn was made defensive coordinator for the Cowboys, Fowler would later follow. Fowler found his place on rotation for the Cowboys last year and looked completely respectable in his role. He had 27 tackles, six sacks (third-most), two forced fumbles (second-most) and 40 pressures (fourth-most).
Breaking: FA pass rusher Dante Fowler Jr. is re-signing with the #Cowboys on a 1-year deal, sources tell @theScore.— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) March 21, 2023
Fowler recorded 6 sacks, 7 TFLs and 2 FFs for Dan Quinn’s dominant unit last season. Dallas keeps a key member of its defense. pic.twitter.com/yOoguPCbMO
2023 Roster Projection:
Fowler found himself earning a second contract at Dallas after a perfectly fine season last year. He’s certainly not playing to first-round expectation, but the Cowboys never spent that draft capital on him. They are utilizing Fowler exactly the way that is expected from a guy with his injury history and levels of production. He will look to continue his role rotating as a pass rusher for Dallas in obvious passing down situations, or to relieve the other defensive ends. At this stage we have to give Quinn the respect in knowing exactly when to deploy Fowler, and last year he seemed to be right on the money.
Dante Fowler's 6 sacks with the Dallas Cowboys in 2022 were the third-most he has had in a season in his career and are the most that he had in a season since the 11.5 that he had with the Rams in 2019.— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) March 21, 2023
Dan Quinn knows how to get the best out of his players.
Projected 2023 Stats:
Defensive stops: 20
The Big Question:
Does Fowler make this year’s final roster? If so, how many sacks will he get for Dallas in 2023? Answer in the comments below.