After finishing first in the NFL in defense last season, Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams took a step back during the 2021 campaign. This season, they finished 15th in points allowed and 17th in yardage.
However, the team was able to overcome that as the offense got back on track. After finishing an uncharacteristic 22nd in points and 11th in yards in 2020, the Rams bounced back in a big way offensively, finishing seventh in points and ninth in yardage.
The acquisition of Matthew Stafford was a big reason for the turnaround. He had some struggles, but overall, he provided a higher ceiling for the offense led by superstar Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckahm Jr. at wide receiver. Tyler Higbee is a solid option at tight end, while Darrell Henderson, Sony Michel and Cam Akers are a three-headed monster out of the backfield.
Los Angeles has the firepower to keep up with any team in a shootout, but if they want to win Super Bowl 56, the defense has to get going. While they haven’t been as consistent this season, one player that has brought it once again is Aaron Donald.
Donald is a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate. He has won the award three times and could be in the running for a fourth this season. He is arguably the most dominant player in the NFL and Pro Football Focus’s numbers show just how dominant he is.
According to Pro Football Focus, Donald has been the highest-rated defender every season since 2016. This season, he led the league with a defensive grade of 93.6 for the Rams.
This season, Donald totaled 84 tackles, 19 of which were for a loss. He was a terror in the backfield, racking up 25 quarterback hits and 12.5 sacks. Four forced fumbles and four passes defended round out his impressive stat line.
The numbers speak for themselves, but what makes them even more impressive is that Aaron Donald is facing constant double and triple teams. He produces gaudy numbers despite being the main focus of opposing offenses and the player they are trying to stop because he is such a game-changer in the middle of the defensive line.