Could Dante Fowler join the Houston Texans and revitalize his career?
When the Houston Texans hired Lovie Smith as their new head coach earlier this month, the Texans kept some stability within their coaching staff as he was promoted from being the defensive coordinator.
The Falcons this week released Fowler after two seasons with their team, and the expectations they had for the 27-year-old defensive end/linebacker never reached their potential, resulting in Fowler becoming a free agent.
In two season with the Falcons, Fowler had a combined 7.5 sacks with three sacks in ’20 (14 games, 13 starts) and 4.5 in ’21 (14 games, six starts). The player the Falcons were hoping to get was the Fowler from the 2019 season – with the Los Angeles Rams – where he collected 11.5 sacks in 16 games (14 starts), as that was his career-best season.
From the 2016-18 seasons, Fowler played two full seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars and split a season (’18) with the Jaguars and Rams.
Here is where the Texans enter this discussion. They need to add some more depth at defensive end and linebacker with a pass rush mixed in somewhere. Granted, Fowler’s sack numbers weren’t what the Falcons wanted, but he did have 16 quarterback hits the past two seasons combined, with eight in each season.
Plus, which team is perfect to get playing time, not have a ton of pressure on them, and loves to hand out one-year contracts … that’s correct, it is the Texans. Last year the Texans had 30-plus one-year contracts, and in the past they are known for giving veterans a place to get their game back and then go earn a larger deal elsewhere.
Look no further than Tyrann Mathieu and his one-year with the Texans, which allowed him to get a better deal – and a Super Bowl championship – with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Houston Texans: Can Lovie Smith help the career of Dante Fowler?
What defensive player that hasn’t played to full expectations in recent years wouldn’t want to come and learn from head coach Lovie Smith with the Houston Texans in ’22? The Texans are rebuilding their roster, and a player like Fowler, though he would be coming to add to his career, could help some younger players – or future draft choices – with their NFL game as well.
Smith might not get Fowler back to an 11-sack per season player, but he would make him better than he was with Atlanta. Fowler could add to a defense that needs more depth and better players with the pass rush, and it isn’t a guarantee Jacob Martin returns to the team in ’22, either.
Smith’s defense would allow Fowler to be a defensive end, which is where his pass rush abilities would be used more, or he has played outside linebacker in his career – as a member of the Rams – and there he had his best success to date. The Texans need help at both positions, so maybe he can be a hybrid of both positions depending on the opponent and the in-game situation.
Smith has helped players have their best years to date, and that includes last season in his first year as the DC with the Texans.
Outside linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill played in ’21 with Smith as the defensive coordinator. Grugier-Hill led the Texans in tackles with 106 in 14 games, plus he had three sacks. This was a career-year for Grugier-Hill, and in a game against the Indianapolis Colts he had 10 solo tackles.
This could be Fowler in ’22, as his best game in ’21 saw him have no more than two solo tackles in a game, and in no game did he have more than one sack.
Fowler was a highly touted player when he joined the NFL, and maybe he can get back the magic he had with the Rams, though he did play with some talented players on that defense. At only 27 years old, Fowler still has a lot of football left to play if he chooses to, and joining Smith and the Texans isn’t such a bad decision if he wants to improve on his craft while learning from a smart defensive mind.