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The Sideline Observer

Sports and Culture Commentary

Can the Patriots Stop Aaron Donald?

With the Super Bowl just days away, it’s time to look at the x-factors that will make or break this game. When it comes to The Los Angeles Rams the player to watch is without a doubt Aaron Donald. Keeping Tom Brady under constant duress is the path to victory for the Rams.

Donald has had one of the best seasons ever for a defensive lineman, recording an absurd 20.5 sacks on the year. Just mind-boggling numbers that we haven’t seen since 2014 when Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt also recorded 20.5 sacks. So, how in the hell do the Pats stop that?

Everyone knows that Bill Belichick’s formula to win is taking away the team’s top option, and making you beat them with your second option. It’s gonna be a lot easier said than done for the Pats when it comes to stopping Aaron Donald.

However, the Patriots have shown signs during this year’s playoffs that they have the ability to deter top pass rushers. In the divisional round vs. the Los Angeles Chargers the Patriots held the team to zero sacks on the day, a defense that includes former No. 2 overall pick Joey Bosa.

When it comes to protecting Brady: “Brady was pressured on only 25.8 percent of his drop-backs this season, per PFF, the third-lowest rate in the league. Give credit where credit is due, the Patriots offensive line has been of the best units in the league this year. But stopping Donald is a whole different animal.

This will be Brady’s greatest defensive test since the 2007 Super Bowl against the Giants, where he faced Hall of Famer Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, and Justin Tuck. Man, I miss those days as a Giants fan. The Giants defensive line lived up the hype that game, totalling five sacks and nine quarterback hits.

Will the Rams defensive line have the same type of performance? I don’t think they will put on as much of a clinic as the Giants did. But they will get to Brady. Even if they somehow stop Donald somehow, you still have to deal with Ndamukong Suh.   

Tom Brady has statistically been the worst quarterback in the league against the blitz this year, as he has posted a -59.6 quarterback rating against the blitz, which is worse than Josh Rosen and Case Keenum (yikes). Getting to the quarterback will make or break this game.

-Jackson Parker

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