With bright lights and huge stages, he has his best performances
The LA Rams did no favors to All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald this season. Since 2017, the Rams had sought veteran pass rushers to come into the Rams defense and help the guy out in terms of getting after the opposing quarterback. Far too often, that simply resulted in those other players padded their stats in this defense for a year or two, and then signing on with another team for a huge paycheck.
That left Aaron Donald to break in and get familiar with a new teammate, only to start the vicious cycle all over again. While the LA Rams may have not been able to fix the problem in 2023, the Rams roster has certainly arrived at a unique solution that has slowed down the cycle considerably.
It's unlikely that Aaron Donald, in his tenth NFL season, will crack double digits in quarterback sacks in 2023. After 15 games, Donald has 6.0 quarterback sacks with only two games to go. But he may be at his most dangerous right now.
While NFL quarterbacks have learned to get the pass away quickly whenever facing Aaron Donald, Donald is still a force to be reckoned with on the line of scrimmage. Donald has 48 tackles to go with his 6.0 quarterback sacks. He also has 14 tackles for a loss, 21 quarterback hits, eight quarterback hurries, 14 quarterback knockdowns and 29 quarterback pressures. He has even deflected two passes this season.
Aaron Donald is so good on the line of scrimmage that he routine attracts two or three blockers on any given play, and is held on nearly every play with no calls by the NFL officials. And yet, despite overwhelming odds and subjective enforcement of the rules against him, he still manages to get to the quarterback.
Donald may be unique in his ability to overcome double-teams at the line of scrimmage, but he knows that he needs help getting the quarterback down. Unlike other years with veterans on one-year deals, Donald knows that the rookies who play on the Rams will be around for the next three seasons as well. So it behooves him to invest his knowledge in them, as they will be around to help him out, and the Rams defense as well, form many more years to come.
Aaron Donald has not recorded a full quarterback sack since the BYE week. That means that Aaron Donald is particularly dangerous in the final two games of the season. Donald needs 4.0 quarterback sacks in the LA Rams final two games of the season to earn his seventh 10+ quarterback sacks season out of 10 years in the NFL.
I think he keeps that possibility alive with a 2+ quarterback sack performance against the New York Giants in Week 17. To win on the road against the resilient New York Giants, the LA Rams pass rush must show up. I think it does, setting up a huge Week 18 for the LA Rams and the NFC Western Division.