Donald, Rams’ D-line want to keep up the pressure on Wilson
“He’s going to make you work for it,” Donald said Thursday. “Definitely.”
But if any group is capable of turning the tables on the elusive Wilson, it would be the Rams’ defensive line that leads the NFL in pressures and hurries.
Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers, along with a rotating group of defensive ends and outside linebackers, finally turned those disruptive plays into sacks in a 38-31 win over Minnesota. Donald got his first sack of the season on the first play of the fourth quarter, the first of four sacks of Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins in the final 15 minutes.
“They come in bunches,” said Donald, who finished with two sacks.
Suh and John Franklin-Myers had the other two sacks, with the rookie defensive end stripping Cousins and Suh recovering the fumble with 1:18 remaining to help the Rams (4-0) remain undefeated.
“Hopefully, they’ll get a lot more, but that’s been the story of the past couple weeks,” safety John Johnson III said. “We’ve been standing up when we needed to the most, so it’s huge.”
Making those timely plays in the critical moments was a good start, but cornerback Marcus Peters believes the defense still has plenty of room to improve.
“We’re not exactly where we want to be right now and we’re going to get better, and that’s what is the scary part,” Peters said.
Donald agreed, pointing to the communication among the defensive line as something that will grow as the season goes on. Against Wilson, it will have to be especially precise in obvious passing situations when Suh is lined up at defensive end next to Donald at tackle so neither over-pursues and gives Wilson a lane to step up in the pocket to scramble or throw down the field.
“He makes plays out of nothing,” defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. “He makes plays that nobody else can make. I can’t say enough good things about him.”
“He’s definitely a special type of quarterback,” Donald said. “A lot of respect for him, but my job is to get to him and get him down to the ground, and that’s what we are going to try to do.”
However, putting Wilson under duress can produce benefits besides sacks. Johnson said the pass rush can lead to interceptions when the offense is not able to maintain its timing.
“We know the quarterback is going to get the ball out faster, so we play a little tighter coverage. We can get a lot of turnovers off it,” Johnson said.
And when the defensive line gets sacks because of effective coverage down the field, Peters said the secondary feels the same satisfaction the defensive front does when a quarterback hit or hurry leads to an interception.
“When you got a D-line like we got, who wouldn’t? I mean, when you get into situations like that, you got to just say, ‘Hey, let them go,'” Peters said. “You got to let your dogs eat.”
Los Angeles feasted on Wilson last season by sacking him 10 times, with seven coming in a 42-7 rout that confirmed the Rams’ status as the class of the NFC West. With the addition of Suh in the offseason and a better understanding of Phillips’ scheme, Donald is confident the defense line will continue to make things difficult for Wilson.
“Each week we’re getting better and it’s going to continue to get better,” Donald said. “We got a good group. We ain’t worried about nothing. We’re going to keep growing.”
NOTES: LG Rodger Saffold (knee) did not practice for the second consecutive day, but Rams coach Sean McVay expects him to be available against Seattle. . ILB Mark Barron (ankle) was a limited participant for the second straight practice. Phillips said Barron, who has not played since Week 14 last season, would be on a snap count if he plays against Seattle.