Ex-Los Angeles Rams DC Casts Doubt on 2024 Defense In Light of Retirement: “Other Good Players, But There Aren’t Any Aaron Donalds”

Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams have done what they can to patch the hole in the defense left when Aaron Donald retired earlier this spring. They added veteran presences to the secondary and drafted not one but two defensive linemen to pair with sophomores Byron Young and Kobie Turner, but there remain skeptics questioning if the Rams have done enough to make up for the loss of one of the greatest players in football history.

Have The Los Angeles Rams Done Enough?

Former Rams defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips is among the questioning. Philips, of course, is intimately aware of just how involved Donald was in the success of the unit, having coached him from 2017-2019. Philips believes the Rams will have to find another versatile, dominant, disruptive force who can consistently win one-on-one pass rush opportunities.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers
Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

“We could utilize Aaron in a lot of different ways,” Phillips told Fox Sports. “So, that takes away your one-on-one advantages. We tried to make sure Aaron had a one-on-one as much as we could, especially in passing situations because he could beat people one-on-one. So, it’s just the personnel you have and try to utilize what they can do. They have other good players obviously, but there aren’t any Aaron Donalds, that’s for sure.”

Eric Williams of Fox Sports points out how good Donald was. Williams writes, “According to Next Gen Stats, Donald generated 659 pressures since 2016, 239 more than the next-closest defensive tackle (Chris Jones, 420).  Donald finished with 111 sacks in 10 NFL seasons, second among defensive tackles to Hall of Famer John Randle (137.5). Donald is No. 3 in league history in tackles for loss with 176.”

The Rams have attempted to patch a position formerly held by an All-Pro player with relatively untested players. Their succession plan for Andrew Whitworth in 2022 was Joseph Noteboom. Noteboom is currently the 16th highest-paid left tackle in football, yet he hasn’t solidified a regular starting position along the offensive line since Whitworth’s retirement.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press
Credit: Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK