Rams News: Brandon Staley Hoping New Scheme Will Take Pressure Off Aaron Donald
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After a disappointing 9-7 season, the Los Angeles Rams have shaken things up this offseason with three new coordinators and some impactful roster turnover in hopes of getting back on track in 2020.

One constant for the Rams through everything has been star defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Through just six seasons, Donald has amassed six Pro Bowl selections, five All-Pro selections and two back-to-back NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards. Already, it is clear that he is one of the best defensive players of this generation.

With a reputation that precedes him, teams have taken notice and put the pressure on. According to ESPN, Donald faced double teams on over 60% of snaps last season, but still managed to record 12.5 sacks. For first-time defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, he hopes to lighten his star’s load and get him more one-on-one opportunities, via Lindsey Thiry of ESPN:

“The thing with Aaron is we all know what he’s capable of,” Staley said. “But how can we help him do his job better and maybe lift some weight off his shoulders, how can we design things to make it a little easier for him?”

Of course, anything the coaches discuss right now will be hypothetical until it is safe to meet in person. Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Rams have yet to have any in-person meetings or workouts. Despite that, many of the Rams have already taken a liking to Staley and his defensive schemes, according to Thiry.

The Rams were a fairly middle-of-the-road defensive team last season, which likely contributed to the dismissal of storied defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Staley himself worked under another storied defensive mind in Vic Fangio, spending the last three years as a linebackers coach under Fangio in Chicago and Denver.

Staley will bring his own philosophy to the table though, and so far, Donald has liked what he has seen:

“Seeing certain things and how we’re going to do certain things that I feel can open up, not just for me but for other guys as well, so I’m just itching, itching to get back and play some ball,” Donald said. “He talked to me, it sounds great — start shaking a little bit, got a big smile on your face, but we won’t know, won’t see until it’s time to go out there and play some ball, so we’re going to see.”

Hopefully things will open up soon and the Rams can finally turn their words into actions. One thing that is for sure though is that regardless of scheme, Donald will do his part on defense in 2020.