When the Rams left St Louis to return to Tinseltown it was hard to think of a defensive team or dominant defensive player to rise from the ranks as one of the league’s best. Yet the reigning Taylor Blitz Times Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald is leading the league in sacks with 16.5 and has been the only consistent Ram defender this year.
With all the high profile signings of DT Ndamukong Suh, Aquib Talib and Marcus Peters this defense was supposed to sprint to Super Bowl LIII with the balance of a potent offense. At times Suh has been handled by rival lines and not the force he’s been in years past. Talib has missed 8 games due to injury and Peters has been scorched over the last 7 weeks.
Even DE Dante Fowler’s play (2 sacks) has cooled after his mid-season trade from Jacksonville.
Although Donald was held at bay against Philadelphia and Chicago, he wreaked havoc against Detroit in the Rams last win 3 weeks back. Donald terrorized the Lion’s front line for 4 hits on Matthew Stafford, another 4 tackles for loss and 2 sacks and a forced fumble. That performance in a 30-16 win propelled the Rams to 11-1 and a 2nd straight NFC West championship.
As Donald goes so go the Rams. One glaring stat that pops up is of his league leading 19.5 sacks, none have come in the 3 losses to New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Chicago. He did hit Drew Brees 4 times in a 45-35 loss however not enough to slow the Saints down.
Yesterday he set the single season team record after a 3 sack performance in a 31-9 win over the Cardinals. He left a lasting impression on rookie QB Josh Rosen. Yet will he show up to dominate the big game come playoff time??
He is the leader of an underachieving defense that began the season with Super Bowl aspirations. He has his sights on breaking Hall of Famer Michael Strahan’s sack record of 22.5. All that stands in his way is a 49ers front line that Donald killed garnering 4 sacks, 8 tackles and another 5 hits on QB C. .J. Beathard.
If Donald gets the record it’s going to be hard to not give it to him. He’ll be the first to win our Taylor Blitz Times Defensive Player of the Year in back to back seasons. Stay tuned.
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