Bears Face Formidable Challenge In Donald, Suh

Aaron Donald leads the NFL with 16.5 sacks.

Chris Emma
December 05, 2018 - 3:16 pm
Rams defensive linemen Ndamukong Suh, left, and Aaron Donald

Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports


LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) -- Should Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky make his return to action Sunday night in primetime as it appears will be the case, he has quite the threat looming across the line of scrimmage.

Waiting for Trubisky will be two imposing Rams rushers in All-Pro defensive linemen Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, a duo that has helped lead Los Angeles to an NFL-best 11-1 record.

"No matter who we're playing, we're always going to respect you, but we're never going to back down," Bears coach Matt Nagy said. "That's just who we are. I know our guys feel that way. It's a mutual respect. We don't want anybody on our team going into it thinking they can't win one-on-one battles. 

"Regardless of who we're going against, it doesn't matter, we're going to give it our best and do what we can to protect our quarterback."

The reigning AP Defensive Player of the Year, Donald has a league-best 16.5 sacks in 12 games this season -- already well past his career-best mark. Donald has established himself as the game's premier defensive lineman and is the front-runner to be named the league's Defensive Player of the Year again.

Donald certainly has the attention of this Bears offense ahead of Sunday. Nagy called him a "game-changer times three."

"If you don't get four sets of hands on him at times, he's going to destroy the offense," tackle Bobby Massie said. 

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Donald is only part of the battle for the Bears' protection. The Rams signed Suh, a five-time Pro Bowler, this past March and paired him with Donald to create a dynamic defensive front.

The Rams run a base 3-4 defense, placing Donald as a primary end and Suh officially listing as a nose tackle. However, Los Angeles defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will get creative playing Donald and Suh off each other. Nagy noted that the Rams are just as dangerous defensively with Donald and Suh operating in a base front, which allows their secondary to be more aggressive.

Bears rookie guard James Daniels, 21, should see plenty of Suh on Sunday, plus a lot of Donald too. He's eager for the greatest challenge of his young career, an "exciting" game as he put it.

Daniels admitted there were times last season at Iowa when he could essentially go through the motions in game preparation. That hasn't been the case against bigger, better, more polished competition at the NFL. Daniels has embraced every week of preparation at this level, knowing the challenge is greater, and that's the approach he'll use in getting ready to face Donald and Suh.

"They're some of the best in the game right now," Daniels said. "Aaron Donald, I think he's the best interior guy we've seen this season.

"I'm just approaching this game like how I approach any other game."

As dominant as Donald and Suh can be, the Rams' defense still has been underwhelming for long stretches. They rank 18th in total defense, 19th in scoring defense and 23rd in sacks.

Protecting Trubisky from trouble will be key for the Bears, who lost him for two games after his right throwing shoulder was crushed against the Soldier Field turf on a hit by Vikings safety Harrison Smith on Nov. 18. Four games remain, and first-place Chicago is in position for the playoffs.

To get a victory against the Rams and move closer toward a postseason clinch, the Bears must manage the dangerous duo of Donald and Suh.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.​​