The Baltimore Ravens have had some great defensive tackles under head coach John Harbaugh, including a borderline Hall of Fame talent named Haloti Ngata. But ahead of his game this Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams, Harbaugh knew which defensive tackle he needed to pay his respects to, as all opposing head coaches must acknowledge prior to a Rams game:
“(Aaron Donald) is probably the greatest to ever play that position,” says Harbaugh.
John Harbaugh on Rams DT Aaron Donald: “He’s probably the greatest to ever play that position.” pic.twitter.com/unK2dZa0Mk— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) December 6, 2023
Sunday will be Donald’s fourth career game against the Ravens. He’s had 1.5 sacks, 3 QB hits, 1 forced fumble, and three tackles for a loss in the previous three contests, including a 20-19 win in 2021. But the Ravens started Tyler Huntley at quarterback in that game and they’ll have franchise star Lamar Jackson this time.
In L.A.’s one game against Lamar, the Ravens won 45-6 and Jackson scored five touchdowns in the air with 95 rushing yards on the ground. Donald had one of his worst career games, making just a single assist tackle in 62 snaps.
Most of the time, we know how dominant Aaron Donald can be, including this season.
The 32-year-old Donald is having one his greatest career accomplishments: Helping an inexperienced, cheap, young defense hold its own even though he’s one of the few players any offense has to pay attention to. Something else Harbaugh knows:
“You have to know where’s he’s at, at all times, and try to get as many people blocking him as you can for as long as you can — which is a tall order,” Harbaugh said during his Wednesday press conference. “He’s probably the greatest to ever play at that position.
“So, he’s definitely that, but it’s not just him, they have just quite a few really good players on defense. They play really hard. They’re flying around [and have] a very disruptive front. So, we have our work cut out for us.”
Donald won’t win Defensive Player of the Year this season, but All-Pro is within reach again. He has 21 QB hits and six sacks in 12 games. Next assignment: Lamar Jackson.