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Los Angeles Rams at Detroit Lions film review: Aaron Donald destroys the Motor City

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Donald’s game against the Lions would have been a banner day for any other defensive lineman. For AD99, it’s just another Sunday.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Frank Ragnow, the Detroit Lions’ rookie offensive lineman, said he watched as much film as he could on Los Angeles Rams DL Aaron Donald. But playing against him was a much different paradigm for the rookie.

“It was … quite the experience,” Ragnow said on Monday, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Donald finished the game with two sacks, two tackles for loss and a forced fumble on Matthew Stafford. One of those sacks came off Ragnow.

“So, yeah, he’s a really good player,” Ragnow said.

Well said.

Donald recorded his first TFL on his third snap. On second-and-10, Donald shoves Ragnow to the side and swims over him. From his stomach, Ragnow watched as Donald dove on LaGarrette Blount for the 1-yard loss.

The next TFL came towards the end of the second quarter, this time from the other side of the line. Donald lines up against RG Kenny Wiggins, who looks cemented into the ground when trying to block the defensive tackle.

Off the snap, Donald plants his left foot and swipes Wiggins arms away, leaving the RG with nothing but his left leg to try and slow down the pass-rush. Even off-balance, Donald makes a cut into the ground to grab RB Theo Riddick with one arm and corral him for the tackle.

At this point in the fourth quarter, the Rams are only holding a 3-point lead (16-13). Prior to this second-and-seven play, Lions offense had a huge first-down play to help get them to their own 47-yard line.

But Donald threw a wrench in the drive. Matthew Stafford didn’t have an open man, but had the brief opportunity to run with LB Mark Barron and and CB Troy Hill being taken out of the flat on coverage. Even with Suh coming back inside, Stafford could have, at the very least, gotten back to the line of scrimmage.

However, Donald doesn’t give Stafford much of a chance. He gets to the quarterback in just under three seconds. Donald works Ragnow’s outside shoulder (again) for the sack.

All of Donald’s big plays came against Ragnow and Wiggins, and he knew how to get past them. On his TFL against Ragnow, Donald worked the outside shoulder (Ragnow’s left). Against Wiggins, Donald planted his left foot and swiped the lineman’s arms away while shooting the A-gap.

That’s how Donald recorded his fourth quarter strip sack against Wiggins. Even against the late-double-team, Donald’s strength gets past the protection and allows him to pounce on Stafford.

Donald deserves the MVP

Not the defensive MVP. Not the team MVP. The NFL MVP.

Like the Heisman, the NFL MVP is an award that seems to be reserved solely for offensive players. The last time a defensive player won the MVP was in 1986 (New York Giants LB Lawrence Taylor). Ten of the last 11 MVPs were awarded to quarterbacks (Adrian Peterson won it in 2012).

Donald is a wrecking ball at any position, at any side of the line.

”So far in my experience in the league, a lot of guys got one or two good things that they really depend on and they can do whatever. (Donald) can do whatever he wants,” Ragnow told the Free Press.