THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Aaron Donald, the Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle who is widely considered the very best at what he does, has yet to record a sack this season. One-hundred and thirty-three others have. And, yes, he has noticed.
"You know how pissed he is right now!?" Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers said, laughing almost hysterically. "I would be livid right now!"
Even without a sack, Pro Football Focus has graded Donald as one of the two best interior defensive linemen in each of the past two weeks. He has accumulated an NFL-leading 17 quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus, and has come painstakingly close to recording his first sack a multitude of times. During a recent meeting with the coaches, Donald cracked: "Why won't these quarterbacks take their sacks like men?"
"They've been doing a good job of getting the ball out when they're wrapped up, man," Brockers said. "They know the rules. They know, once that ball is out and the receiver is in the area, they can get the ball out. It'll come. It'll come."
Donald has compiled 20 sacks over the past two seasons, establishing himself as the game's best interior pass-rusher. He had 3 1/2 by this time last year, but didn't record one in the season's final three games. His last sack came on Dec. 13, 2015, a three-sack game against the Detroit Lions. But the lull is in no way indicative of the havoc Donald wrecks on an opposing offensive line, or the effect his presence has on his teammates.
"He’s getting double-teamed and he’s getting all those scheme things that you get offensively," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "It creates other opportunities for someone else. We have to keep moving him around a little bit and create the one-on-ones. Even though his numbers aren’t reflecting it, he’s very productive.”
The Rams' defensive line has put its imprint all over the past two games, both of them wins. But the unit was shorthanded on Sunday, and that prompted Donald to line up a few times at defensive end on four-man fronts.
"It's like rushing inside, just a little bit more space out there," Donald said. "I did it in college, so it wasn't really anything new."
Donald is already an all-world defensive tackle despite being relatively undersized for the position, at 6-foot-1 and 285 pounds. But he would be an above-average defensive end if he lined up there, too. And that is rare. Pressed to find another defensive lineman that can handle both so adequately, Brockers brought up Houston Texans star J.J. Watt, who may be out for the year after re-injuring his back. He added Fletcher Cox of the Philadelphia Eagles and Jurrell Casey of the Tennessee Titans.
That was it.
"I don't know too many other guys who can do it and be effective," Brockers said. "It's hard. It's really hard."