Stats can be misleading in football. They are especially deceptive when it comes to interior defensive linemen.
Disruption is production. A pocket caved in by a defensive tackle can discombobulate even the best quarterback, forcing missed throws and errant decisions. Yet all that disruption doesn't necessarily lead to sacks. Box score scanners might be hard-pressed to see the difference between three quarterback hits by a defensive tackle manhandling double teams from a "sack" in which a defensive end was the closest player when the quarterback ran out of bounds for a two-yard loss.
Through three games, Donald has nine tackles, three stuffs and two passes defensed. Even without a single sack, he grades out as the top interior defender by Pro Football Focus. Donald received a 95.8 pass rush grade from the analytics website, Fletcher Cox (named September defensive Player of the Month) was the No. 2 defensive tackle with an 81.4 grade. PFF counted 17 quarterback pressures from Donald.
You could understand why frustration might mount over the lack of sacks, but Donald still has his sense of humor. At a recent meeting with coaches, the DT cracked: "Why won't these quarterbacks take their sacks like men?"
"He's getting double-teamed and he's getting all those scheme things that you get offensively," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "It creates other opportunities for someone else. We have to keep moving him around a little bit and create the one-on-ones. Even though his numbers aren't reflecting it, he's very productive."
Numbers deceive. With or without the sack stats, Donald is one of the most disruptive defensive players on the planet. When it comes to Defensive Player of the Year discussions, anyone leaving out Donald is clearly only checking box scores.