Los Angeles Rams: Aaron Donald Confesses 3 Toughest Offensive Schemes He Faced

Recently retired Los Angeles Rams defensive end, Aaron Donald went on to the Green Light podcast with former St. Louis Rams teammate Chris Long last week. Long asked him “I’m wondering was there one team that always had a good plan against you?”

Donald Lists His Three Toughest Opponents with the Los Angeles Rams

Philadelphia Eagles

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Rams
Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

His first response was blunt;

Philly. I hate to play against Philly. [Jason] Kelsey. His little fast a** always ran full. He would snap the ball and run over right now and just I’m like, bro. ‘What? You got some good guards. Let them work. You don’t gotta help them every time. I’m not letting you run the game. Every single play. Every time I played the Eagles, bro, I really never really got no one-on-ones. I probably had, one or two during the game, and that would be it if you don’t win it one-on-one. That time then you’re done. You gonna get double and triple team for the rest of the game.

Donald registered zero sacks against the Eagles in five games. He had some early success against them. In his rookie season of 2014, four pressures. In his second meeting, he got eight. In the final three, he managed a total of six pressures.

Donald averaged 3.6 pressures per game against Philadelphia. A good step down from his career with 5.1 pressures per game.

New Orleans Saints

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams
Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Early in my career, the Saints had a good game plan. They were always sliding the protection and they always had the tackle choke down. So before he jump out to the end, he gonna punch the B gap closed. Now the A gap closed because the center slid. They’re trying to just grab it. I usually gotta try to work off that.

In seven games against the Saints, Donald picked up two sacks, in 2016 and 2017. He complied 29 pressures, 4.1 per game. His best games against them were in 2018, with four quarterback hits and seven total pressures, and in 2022 with five pressures. He also picked up three QB hits in the NFC Championship game in 2022.

San Francisco 49ers

NFL: NFC Championship-San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

And then the last two years, I think the 49ers did a good job of keeping me out the game. If that’s running the ball away from me or just keeping things away to the point where you know you even trying to chase things down from the backside or just trying to find ways to to to get the one-on-ones. And when you do get the one-on-ones, they can get the ball out quick.

This, for obvious reasons, lends the most fertile sample size. Donald played against the 49ers 19 times and in those matchups, he racked up 4.1 pressures per game and 13 total sacks. But as he says San Francisco adjusted to Donald. In the past three seasons, Donald posted zero sacks and just 2.8 pressures per game.

His best games against the 49ers were in 2018 with a four-sack performance, and in 2019 with 6 pressures and two sacks.

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