I: Gotta get Aaron Donald on track
I recently read in one of the LA Rams forums that some believe that All-Pro defensive linemen Aaron Donald is on the decline. Seriously, the comments asserted that he is nursing some unknown injury, that he is already fatigued, that his rib injury from 2020 has affected his breathing, and therefore, his stamina, and that the LA Rams had better prepare for a season without nearly as much production out of Donald.
Sometimes a win is a win. And if that means 10 quarterback sacks from LA Rams All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald or no quarterback sacks, it’s a win. Many understand the tremendous contribution by All-Pro defensive back Jalen Ramsey, despite the fact that he isn’t leading the NFL in interceptions. Aaron Donald’s contribution to the defense is more than quarterback sacks and tackles.
From the moment that Aaron Donald steps onto the football field, everyone on the offense knows where he is, and the game plan is designed specifically to stop him. That includes running away from him, sending two, three, and even four blockers to stop him, letting him rush, and designing trap plays to block him while the ball carrier rushes to the spot he just vacated.
Donald is a disruptive force to any offense he faces, and it starts at the moment the offensive brain trust from the opposing team tries to game plan to neutralize him. He pretty much is an autonomous force on the Rams defense. So how can the Rams get him on track in this one?
The simplest way is simply to enter the game with a plan to neutralize what the offense will likely do. If the Rams expect a double team, then simply stunt defensive linemen to allow Donald to rush the quarterback from an unexpected spot. Or the Rams can simply use a delayed blitz, allow two or more offensive linemen to engage Donald, and then rush a linebacker to either side of Donald. But my recommended avenue is simply to show an occasional 4-3 front, forcing offensive lineman to choose who they will block, and ensuring that Donald has much better odds of getting after Brady.
Brady will certainly be heading to the NFL Hall of Fame someday. But so is Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald. Brady will want to pass as often as he can in Week 3. The Rams defense will want to stop him from doing so. Three quarterback sacks seem to be the threshold for disrupting Brady. Look for the Rams to get to him five times this Sunday.