On the flight home from Detroit, I decided to do a quick study of Aaron Donald’s NFL-leading 16.5 sacks. From our standpoint, it feels like he’s not just imposing his will, but he’s wrecking opposing offenses at the most critical moments of games.
Here’s what I came up with:
- Opponents have come away with a total of one subsequent first down on drives in which he recorded a sack (and it was because of a personal foul against Seattle).
- Opponents have come away with zero touchdowns on drives in which he recorded a sack.
- 12 of his sacks have occurred in the second half.
- Eight of his sacks have occurred in the fourth quarter.
- Eight of his sacks have occurred on third down.
- 14 of his sacks have (a) forced a fumble recovered by the Rams, (b) led to a turnover on that same set of downs, or (c) led to a punt on that same set of downs.
- Two of his sacks have immediately forced a field goal try.
As for his four forced fumbles:
- -All four have been recovered by the Rams (including one recovered by Donald, himself).
- -All have have led to Rams touchdowns (either on the fumble recovery or the ensuing offensive possession).
- -Three of his forced fumbles occurred on first down plays for the opposition.
He’s also leading the league with 20 tackles for loss, showing up just as prominently in run defense.
And here’s a final trend, courtesy of the Rams P.R. department: The Rams are undefeated (16-0) in the Sean McVay / Wade Phillips era when Donald records a sack.