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Dante Fowler on Jags' fall: 'Other teams were hungrier'

Dante Fowler Jr. had his life uprooted in the middle of the 2018 season, but it has paid off in the best way possible, with a trip to the Super Bowl.

During the lead-up to Super Bowl LIII, Fowler, now a member of the Los Angeles Rams, reflected on how much of a culture shift he experienced when he moved from Florida to California ahed of the 2018 trade deadline. In the process, he acknowledged how the Jaguars weren't exactly quiet about their credentials, even as they fell from AFC contender to division cellar-dweller.

"When rookie linebacker [Ogbonnia Okoronkwo began helping me] that's when I could tell everyone was for one goal," Fowler said, per The MMQB's Robert Klemko. "I was traded for, and there wasn't an elephant in the room or anything. I'm grateful to work with a group of guys like that. We have a lot of star power, guys with accolades, rings, Hall of Fame credentials, but these guys are humble and they put all that behind them. They keep the main thing. ... It took me coming here to realize that we weren't humble about it. Other teams were hungrier than us."

The hunger is what was suspected to be a driving force behind the Jaguars, who would bludgeon you defensively and let you hear about it as the haymakers were flying. They were motivated because they were tired of being the butt of AFC South-related jokes, and it showed -- until it didn't.

Jacksonville got off to a 3-1 start, then proceeded to lose in matchups with five eventual playoff teams -- Kansas City, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia and Indianapolis -- and two more opponents (Pittsburgh and Buffalo) before finally ending the drought with a 6-0 win over the Colts. Amid that streak, Fowler's welcome had officially worn out. The defensive end who missed Week 1 due to a suspension for a 2017 incident was headed west, feeling entirely unappreciated.

"After I tore my ACL (before my rookie season) I feel like they gave up on me going into my next training camp," Fowler said. "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."

The Rams surely appreciate him. Fowler has been an impact player, turning around in eight-plus weeks with the Rams what looked to be a disappointing career. That effort saw its latest high-water mark in the most important situation: the NFC Championship Game, in which he pressured Drew Brees, forcing a high pass that was intercepted by John Johnson. That turnover led to Los Angeles' game-winning field goal.

While his former teammates with less of an appetite sit at home with Super Bowl party spreads in front of them, Fowler will be on the field in Atlanta, ready to eat.

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