LOS ANGELES (AP) – Aaron Donald has just played two consecutive soccer games without tackling for the first time…
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Aaron Donald has just played two consecutive soccer games without tackling for the first time in his life.
On Monday night in Tampa Bay, the Los Angeles Rams All-Pro defensive tackle didn’t even make a single game listed in the NFL statistics in its 62 strokes: No sack, no tackles, no quarterback.
Donald doesn’t look at the stat sheets, but he doesn’t have to in Tampa.
“I know (from) playing the game I don’t make a damn tackle,” Donald said Wednesday with a frustrated laugh. “It’s like, ‘Oh, (shoot), I should at least get one tackle.'”
The stats are a very imprecise measure of Donald’s impact on the game, of course. The choice of six times the Pro Bowl influences the game plan, running the scheme, and making the quarterback’s decision by taking only three points.
Donald made the game for the Rams even when he wasn’t actually the one making the game, and opponents and teammates alike knew that.
“I don’t feel like playing football is bad,” said Donald, who is still third in the NFL with nine sacks this season. “I feel like it’s annoying. I was still close to making the game, reaching the midfielder and he got the ball out at the last minute, whatever the case. Only the people around me make drama too. It’s not the thing that makes me angry. If I play badly out there, I’ll be even more disappointed by that. “
Donald also didn’t draw penalties against Tampa Bay or Seattle – which doesn’t mean he’s not on hold. In fact, Donald is under constant detention, according to defense coordinator Donald and Rams Brandon Staley.
“He hasn’t pulled a call waiting, I think, three or four weeks, which we’ll have to see,” said Staley. “It’s just saying that people blocked it right away, which we know isn’t the case.”
In fact, Staley compared Donald’s dominance to other physical strengths that towered over his sport that he appears to be led by a different standard.
“A player like that, it’s like Shaquille O’Neal when he plays,” said Staley. “This guy, I think people are taking for granted how good (Donald) is, and we need to make sure people see the game the way they need it.”
In the most striking example, Tampa Bay left Donovan Smith’s arm full of Donald to prevent him from firing Tom Brady in the final zone. The play, which also included an obvious mistake by Brady’s bizarre passing of an incomplete pass, would have resulted in salvation if officials had thrown the flag for clear defense.
Donald realizes it’s all part of being one of the best to play his position, but that doesn’t make him any better suited when the ref doesn’t see what he’s looking at.
“I think they hold every game,” said Donald. “There are some stark bans that we don’t accept, but you have to keep playing. I hope I find a partner. … Every time I talk to (officials). I said, ‘You have to look at the detention summons.’ They said they didn’t see it. I was like, ‘Man, that guy is hugging me, grabbing me, grabbing my shirt! I just beat a man in a hurry! ‘ But it’s okay. Hopefully I’ll get to it sooner rather than later, and it will help us massively, so I have to keep playing. “
The best measure of Donald’s impact is probably an evaluation of how the Rams’ overall defense plays out – and by that measure, Donald has never been better.
The Rams (7-3) host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday with one of the best defenses in the league playing at the highest level. The Staley crew allowed an NFL-low of 291.9 yards per game, and Pittsburgh’s only undefeated limit the opponents allowed less than 19.2 Rams points per game.
Donald deserves great credit, Staley was sure.
“This guy was annoying while attacking as usual,” said the novice coordinator. “I think the (opponent’s) running game hasn’t expressed itself in his particular area, which is unusual. And then in a rush, this guy attracts more attention than anyone, and we do our best to isolate him. “
The Buccaneers’ game plan against Donald was clear: Brady kept short dropbacks and quick throws to prevent Donald and the other Rams passers from having time to threaten him. Samson Ebukam got Los Angeles ‘only sack while Donald took on the Bucs’ two blockers alone.
“I really think (not having a tackle in two games is) a statistical anomaly,” added Staley. “He does not have the normal production as usual, but he played very well for us.”
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