Aaron Donald led the NFL in sacks and is the consensus choice for defensive player of the year, but even when Donald didn’t actually bring down the quarterback, he affected opposing passers in other ways.
Donald led the league in pressures as well as sacks, and he led a defense that pressured opposing quarterbacks more frequently than any other defense in football.
According to Chris Trapasso of the Buffalo News, using data compiled by Pro Football Focus, the Rams got pressure on 40.1 percent of the dropbacks they faced, the best of any defense in the NFL in the 2018 season.
As is often the case, however, when a team succeeds at rushing the passer, it can struggle to stop the run. Draw plays often work well against a team that’s focused on getting to the quarterback, and in the case of the Rams they allowed opposing runners to gain an average of 5.1 yards per carry. That’s dead last in the NFL.
So whether it’s the Bears, the Seahawks or the Cowboys the Rams face in their first playoff game, expect them to get to the quarterback often. But don’t be surprised if any one of those teams is able to run effectively in Los Angeles next weekend.