The Los Angeles Rams are going to need all hands on deck if they’re to defeat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 53. This is the player that could help them pull off the upset victory.
The Los Angeles Rams will enter Sunday’s Super Bowl as the betting underdogs despite an uber-talented roster full of playmakers on both sides of the ball. While their offense gets much of the attention, it’s a player on their defense that might turn out to be the team MVP if the Rams could pull off the upset.
Defensive tackle Aaron Donald is
one of the most dominant player in the NFL with the ability to take over games at will. Although the Pittsburgh product has had a disappointing postseason so far from a production standpoint, the value he brings to the field every time he plays must be measured beyond simply sack totals.
But let’s talk about those sack totals for a second.
Donald amassed a league-leading 20.5 sacks in 2018 which is the most by any player since Justin Houston‘s 22.0 in 2014. But it’s not just the total that stands out.
Donald did this while being double-teamed on a staggering 70% of snaps. To put that in perspective, only J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans was doubled more than just 40% of snaps sitting in second at 46%.
Not only is Donald performing significantly better than any other player in the league from a statistical standpoint, but he’s doing so while being doubled close to twice the amount of anyone else in the league.
That’s just ridiculous.
He’s as dominant as they come also leading the league in quarterback hits along with his incredible sack total. Donald is the perfect blend of power, speed, and athleticism and is likely the most dominant player the NFL has seen in years, maybe decades.
All of that points to Donald being an absolute force to be reckoned with come Sunday. The Patriots interior offensive line will have their hands full as they try to block the overpowered Donald.
Expect New England to deploy a ton of double team blocks, not that they typically work anyways, to try and slow down Donald’s production. It will be up to the trio of Shaq Mason, David Andrews, and Joe Thuney to work together to minimize the star defensive lineman’s impact.
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If the Rams can find a way to get consistent pressure on quarterback Tom Brady, they might be able to throw off the Patriots timing just enough to divert the team’s gameplan. New England’s offensive line is one of the most underrated units in the league and they’ve done a great job of not only protecting Brady but opening holes in the run game this postseason.
Even if the Patriots are able to limit Donald, his impact will still be felt as the attention he demands will likely open up opportunities for the other star defensive linemen on the Rams in Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers. Even edge rusher Dante Fowler could benefit from the increased opportunities.
Donald’s name has not been called too much this postseason, but that’s prime to change come Super Bowl 53. If Los Angeles is going to pull off the upset, they’re going to need to have the soon-to-be two-time AP Defensive Player of the Year put together one of his game-dominating performances.
In essence, if the Rams come out on top, it will likely mean that Donald did something right.