Jaguars' Dante Fowler has more 15-yard penalties than sacks
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. has more 15-yard penalties than sacks, a growing concern for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Fowler has been flagged nine times this season, which is tied for the fourth most in the NFL, and three of those were major infractions. He was called for unnecessary roughness late in the second quarter of Sunday's 24-21 loss to Houston , penalized for hitting quarterback Brock Osweiler well out of bounds.
It didn't end up costing the Jaguars (2-7) any points, but it continued a trend that started in the preseason. And Fowler has shown few, if any, signs of getting his undisciplined acts under control. Jacksonville plays at Detroit (5-4) on Sunday.
''I thought he was making good strides,'' coach Gus Bradley said Monday. ''I told you the last couple of weeks you could see a conscious (effort) in him as far as hitting the quarterback late or targeting. I thought he made great strides with that. It was a foolish penalty (Sunday). It's like two steps forward, one step back. He knows. We had the discussion at halftime, too. He has to grow up in that area.''
Bradley benched Fowler for the remainder of the half, which amounted to four plays. It was the second time in the last three games the coach kept Fowler on the sideline after a silly penalty.
Bradley also benched Fowler for throwing a punch early in the second quarter of a lopsided loss at Tennessee. That one turned a 15-yard completion into a 30-yard play and helped the Titans build a 17-0 lead.
The third overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft, Fowler said afterward that missing his rookie season because of a knee injury affected him psychologically and has his emotions amped up – maybe too hyped – while on the field.
''When I'm out there, I'm just out for blood and everybody,'' Fowler said. ''I have to tame that and control that.''
It hasn't happened, evidenced by his late hit on Osweiler.
''Clearly out of bounds,'' Bradley said. ''I think that's what was frustrating in that situation.''
Adding to his woes, Fowler's not getting consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. He has 2 1/2 sacks in nine games and has been supplanted in the starting lineup by rookie Yannick Ngakoue, and his lack of control and numbers have some wondering if Fowler has more potential to be bust than a Pro Bowler.
''Dante's challenge is his footwork, and you'll see it in practice,'' Bradley said. ''He'll go do individual drill work and he's trying to get better at it. He'll come into practice and it's a team rep and you might see him do it two out of three times. In the game, he reverts back to one out of three times, where in the past you didn't see it transfer over to the game.
''I think we're trying to break that habit to where he gets more pressure, more up-field to where it opens up more of his game.''
Fowler was dominant in college, finishing his three-year Florida career with 140 tackles, including 33 behind the line of scrimmage, and 14 + sacks. His skills haven't transferred to the next level yet, and his penchant for penalties has the Jaguars unable to fully trust him on the field.
''I think Gus knows and we have a pretty good understanding of the type of player that I am and my emotions,'' Fowler said recently. ''But I guess I let my emotions get the best of me. I don't want to hurt the team. … It's just about being smart.''
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