Los Angeles traded for outside linebacker Dante Fowler with the idea that he'll provide a strong pass-rushing presence off the edge.
After all, he did record 8.0 sacks while playing just 44.8 percent of Jacksonville's defensive snaps in 2017.
And those QB takedowns may start coming sooner than later. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said on Thursday that edge rusher is one of the best spots on the unit to come in and make an impact in a short amount of time.
"Obviously, we got him because we feel like he can help us," Phillips said. "His expertise is in pass rush. And that's probably one of the easiest positions to come in and play, is say, 'Hey, you go rush the passer on this down.' But he's picked up everything well — seems like he's a sharp guy, picked up everything well so far. We may use him in our first- and second-down defense, too. So, we needed an outside 'backer — just numbers-wise, if nothing else. But now we've got a guy who we feel like can help us."
In playing those third-down situations, Fowler is also likely to have opportunities to rush the passer one-on-one. As Phillips explained, that's largely because of the nature of Fowler's position since edge rushers get doubled teamed far less than interior lineman.
"If you're playing defensive end, then you have more one-on-ones naturally. The hardest thing is to play inside like Aaron [Donald] does — that's why he's such a tremendous player. When I had Reggie White, he was playing defensive tackle when we first had him — we moved him to defensive end so people couldn't double-team him. And he did alright," Phillips said — that last bit certainly tongue-in-cheek about the Hall of Famer. "But what I'm saying is, it's more one-on-one out there. In the middle, they can always bring the center every time."
Still, playing next to linemen Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, and Ndamukong Suh, Fowler said he's "definitely" expecting to get a significant amount of one-on-one pass-rushing situations.
"I mean, you've got the best D-tackle in the league, Ndamukong Suh's a dominant defensive tackle," Fowler said. "[W]hen I do have my one-on-ones, I've got to make the most out of them, and make every opportunity out of it."
As Donald put it, Fowler rushing one-on-one should significantly impact the defense.
"I know he's going to have his one-on-ones that he's going to win, he can win in different ways," Donald said. "I watched him play a lot last year. He can win it different ways, definitely with his speed and technique and pass rush moves that he can throw in. I'm just excited that he's here and to build with this group that we already got is definitely going to be special."