Sean McVay does not take Aaron Donald's talent for granted. McVay, who is entering his fifth season as the Los Angles Rams' coach, recently spoke ad nauseam about the greatness of Donald, who will likely receive a bronze bust and a gold jacket as soon as he is eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Donald has won numerous award since breaking into the NFL with the Rams in 2014. A Pro Bowler in each of his first seven seasons, Donald's trophy case includes Defensive Rookie of the Year and three Defensive Player of the Year awards. Donald, who may very well go down as the greatest defensive tackle in NFL history, led the Rams' charge to the Super Bowl in 2018, as Los Angeles held Tom Brady and company to just 13 points in Super Bowl LIII. The Rams lost that game, however, as Donald -- who turned 30 years old during the offseason -- remains in pursuit of his first world title. McVay is committed to helping Donald get there.
"I love this guy," McVay said of Donald during a recent interview with Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic. "And this guy is as much motivation as anybody for why, if we don't win a Super Bowl — if this guy doesn't get one — then shame on me."
McVay has built some good teams around Donald, who in 2020 recorded 13.5 sacks and four forced fumbles for the league's top-ranked defense. After toiling through three consecutive losing seasons, Donald has been in the playoffs four out of the last five years. Los Angeles rebounded last season after missing the playoffs in 2019. On the strength of their defense, the Rams went 10-6 during the regular season before defeating NFC West foe Seattle on the road in the wild card round. Los Angeles' run ended the next week in Green Bay, however, as Donald played through a painful rib injury sustained the previous week.
Donald was emotional as the clock ticked down on his 2020 season.
"He was going to do everything in his power to be out there with his teammates," McVay said after his team's 32-18 loss. "This guy is the epitome of a warrior, and I love him. The plan going in was seeing how he feels, and he's kind of always got that ability to tell us how he's feeling."
To strengthen their offense, the Rams sent two future first-round picks, a third-round pick and quarterback Jared Goff to the Lions in exchange for quarterback Matthew Stafford. McVay is surely hoping the addition of Stafford can help the Rams compete with the Buccaneers and Packers, the NFC's top two teams in 2020. The Rams will also have to get through what is typically one of the league's toughest divisions. The NFC West is expected to be a tightly-contested division race in 2021, with the 49ers healthy and the Cardinals offseason signings of J.J. Watt and A.J. Green.
McVay is also counting on another big season from Donald, who hasn't been shy about his desire to win a ring before hanging up his cleats for good.
"There is not one thing this guy doesn't do well," McVay said. "This guy is the most intrinsically motivated player I have ever been around, and he has the best instincts and feel. Some of the stuff that he does, I'm not even sure — he's at the highest stage of learning, where it's unconscious competence."
The Rams upgraded at quarterback but now have major questions at running back after Cam Akers' Achilles injury. Can Los Angeles still get it done in the rugged NFC West? Stay dialed-in on the CBS Sports app to get the latest news and analysis. If you already have the CBS Sports app, favorite the Rams so you're always in the know.