Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz flashed a telling smile when asked about the viral videos of Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald destroying the Dallas Cowboys' offensive front Sunday night -- plays that are no doubt showing up in Wentz's film review in preparation for this week's home opener against the Rams (1 p.m. ET, Fox).
"He is a monster," Wentz said. "Everyone knows it. Everyone around the league knows the type of player he is and how he can really disrupt an offensive game plan."
This is amazing. Aaron Donald using Cowboys linemen as bowling pins. https://t.co/tg81LEOWPQ— Lindsey Thiry (@LindseyThiry) September 14, 2020
Drawing the most dominant defensive player in the league a week after getting drilled by the Washington Football Team to the tune of eight sacks and 15 QB hits has to be a bit unsettling for Wentz.
The Eagles, though, have a good track record against Donald. They've held him to zero sacks, one tackle for loss and five quarterback hits in three games against him -- all Philadelphia wins. The last time these teams squared off, in 2018, Donald drew double teams regularly, with center Jason Kelce assisting guards Brandon Brooks and Stefen Wisniewski. The Eagles deployed draws and misdirection plays to take advantage of his aggressive nature and dialed up an occasional wham block to knock him off course when he penetrated the backfield.
Wentz has faced Donald once, in 2017, and used his legs a couple times to slip away from a would-be take down.
Philly's offensive line is more vulnerable this time around, even with the expected return of right tackle Lane Johnson from an ankle injury. Brooks, the three-time Pro Bowler, is sidelined with an Achilles injury. Inexperienced second-year player Nate Herbig occupied right guard in his absence Week 1, with mixed results, and is expected to get the call again Sunday. He will be tested.
While the Eagles' offensive line has fallen off some, Donald only seems to be improving, if that's possible for a five-time, first-team All-Pro and two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year who has averaged 12 sacks per season in the NFL.
Those who have been around him, like fellow Pitt alum and Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox, speak of an otherworldly drive.
"When I'd come back [to campus during the summer], he'd be there," Maddox said. "I don't think I've ever seen anybody work as hard as him. Every day he's working out, 24/7. I'm like, 'Man, do you ever take a break?' And he's like, 'Nah, I've got to be great.'"
"I was telling [Eagles RB Miles Sanders], 'Man, just be ready,'" added former Ram-turned-Eagle corner Nickell Robey-Coleman. "Aaron, he's coming to play. His mind is right. He's a real man. He goes about his business, day in and day out. He's going to be ready."
The question is, are the Eagles ready for Donald?
For Wentz's sake, they'd better be.
"We've got to always know where he is, but at the same time, we've got to come out and execute and not play afraid or timid," Wentz said. "But he's a guy that we definitely [account] for where he is at all times. He's a game-wrecker if you let it happen, so we've just got to be smart with how we handle that."