If you don’t know who Aaron Donald is by now, it’s probably best to invest time in a different sport. He is the best defensive tackle in football. A former and soon-to-be-again Defensive Player of the Year. Easily the best interior pass rusher of his generation and fast becoming one of the greatest of all time. He has 16.5 sacks already this season. He’s also the man James Daniels will have to block this Sunday.
The Chicago Bears rookie has been quite the revelation this season. Drafted as a center out of Iowa in the second round, he’s only 21-years old. One of the youngest rookies in the draft. Now the team is about to ask him to block one of the best players in the NFL as the Los Angeles Rams prepare to visit Soldier Field on Sunday night.
It’s the sort of situation where a young player can instantly feel intimidated, losing sleep at night worrying over what he’ll have to do. Nobody would blame him. When asked about it, Daniels didn’t seem phased though.
“I’m getting sleep, yeah. Trust your technique and you will be fine.”
A rather concise answer to a loaded question. Perhaps it’s best to let his linemate Bobby Massie help explain why he seems so calm about the matter.
“It’s not the first time we have played a good defense. Everybody is going to have to be on their stuff. You just have to get your hands on Donald. I’m not taking nothing away from him, but he’s not God. He’s been blocked before. He can be blocked.”
James Daniels 3rd rep as a pro, pancake: pic.twitter.com/FkTTkKB3cS
— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) October 2, 2018
James Daniels can block Aaron Donald but it will take all 60 minutes
Massie isn’t wrong. There have been four games this season where offenses successfully held Donald without a sack. It can be done. The key is having a good gameplan that works in plays that can help slow him down and then trust your guards and center to do their job and keep him at bay long enough to execute it. Daniels understands this. The key to stopping a great one like Donald is proper technique.
This is something the rookie has done surprisingly well. Since becoming the full-time starter against the New York Jets back in week eight, Daniels has yet to allow a sack on the Bears quarterbacks. This despite facing some pretty solid competition including Pro Bowler Linval Joseph, Kyle Williams in Buffalo and the emerging Da’Shawn Hand in Detroit.
Sure, none of those guys are the caliber of Donald but the point is Daniels has proven himself to be reliable. That’s what the Bears are going to need from him for a full 60 minutes this weekend if they want a chance to beat this Rams team.