Aug 2, 2013; Canton, OH, USA; General view of the busts of enshrinees at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Rams All-Time Team: Defense Edition

The first NFL game of the season is a mere day away. The Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins will join in the annual Hall of Fame Game to play in honor of the great players that have played the game. It is honestly kind of sad that the Hall of Game is very special, yet you’re lucky to see a starter touch the field. A game of that magnitude deserves a little more. Last time on Ramblin’ Fan we selected the best offensive Rams players to play the game, now it’s time to select the defense.

Defensive End: Jack Youngblood and Deacon Jones

The Rams have had a lot of great defensive ends to play for them. Kevin Carter, Leonard Little, Grant Wistrom, Chris Long, and the list keeps going. However the two that stand out from the rest and aren’t great players like the others, but legendary, is why I have to choose Jack Youngblood and Deacon Jones. Jack Youngblood had big shoes to fill when he took over for Deacon Jones, and he could not have done a better job. Youngblood unofficially had 151.5 sacks during his 14 year career with the Rams which included seven seasons with double digit sacks and an 18 sack season in 1979. Youngblood has team records in most consecutive games played with 201, most career sacks in the playoffs with 8.5, most playoff starts with 17, most career safeties which he is tied with 2, has unofficially the 2nd most career sacks with 151.5, and 2nd most career blocked kicks with 8. Youngblood made the Pro Bowl seven consecutive times, won defensive player of the year in 1975 and 1976, and was named to the 1970′s all-decade team. All of this greatness did not go unnoticed. Youngblood’s number 85 was retired by St. Louis and Youngblood was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001.

Deacon Jones was the ultimate Ram, possibly the greatest Ram of all-time. He is and always will be the face of the franchise. Jones was the inventor of the term “sack” and the stat wasn’t even ever really important until he made it important. Had the league been keeping the sack stat back then Jones would have the single season sack record as he had an “unofficial” 26 in 1967. According to Pro Football focus, Jones would have had 194.5 sacks at the end of his career had the league kept the stat. The NFL is honoring the Deacon by giving the player with the most sacks the Deacon Jones award. Jones played 11 seasons for the Rams, and he was a dominate member of the “Fearsome Foursome”. Jones represented the team in the Pro Bowl seven times, and was awarded All-Pro honors eight times during his entire career. Deacon was also a member of the 1960′s All-Decade team, as well as the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time team. He is considered to be possibly the best defensive end to ever play the game, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1980. The Rams retired his number 75 in 2009.

Defensive Tackle: Larry Brooks and Merlin Olson

Larry Brooks finally earned a starting spot on the Rams in his second season where he recorded nine sacks. Brooks never looked back and stayed with the Rams his entire career. Brooks made the Pro Bowl five consecutive seasons and was part of the 1979 Rams that went to the Super Bowl. Merlin Olsen was easily the best defensive tackle to ever play for the Rams, and he is one of the best tackles in the history of football. He played all 15 seasons of his career for the Rams, and he made the Pro Bowl 14 out those 15 seasons, including nine All-Pro honors. He was a key member to the infamous “Fearsome Foursome” and was also a member of both the 1960′s and 1970′s All-Decade teams. Olsen was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982, and his jersey number (74) was retired by the Rams.

Outside Linebacker: Isiah Robertson and Les Richter

Isiah Robertson played seven years for the Rams. Robertson was named defensive rookie of the year in 1971 and made six Pro Bowls with the team as well as being selected all-pro twice. You don’t see any players doing this today, but Les Richter played three positions when he played, guard, linebacker, and kicker. The closest thing we have come to that is maybe when Troy Brown played some safety with the Patriots. Richter played his entire career with the Rams and made the pro bowl 8 of 9 seasons in the league. Richter was just inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011.

Middle Linebacker: James Laurinaitis

 The Rams have had a lot of good middle linebackers come through, players like London Fletcher and Mike Jones, but I have to go with James Laurinaitis. Laurinaitis is still earning this spot on the list, but he is already arguably the most valuable player on the entire defense. He is shaping up the be a middle-linebacker of a Brian Urlacher or Ray Lewis importance, and he will do nothing but improve.  James led the league in tackles in 2012 and has been in the top 10 in that category every season he’s been in the league. Laurinaitis is the most consistent player on the Rams right now and will continue to be a dominant player. Once the Rams start winning Laurinaitis will get the recognition he deserves. It’s too early to tell, but by the way it looks Laurinaitis could be in the Hall some day.

Cornerback: Anaeas Williams, Leroy Irvin, and Dick Lane

Anaeas Williams made his name in Arizona, but when he came to St. Louis he surely made his mark. Williams was a big part in the Rams defense when they made their Super Bowl run in 2001 and represented the Rams twice in the Pro Bowl. As soon as Williams becomes eligible it is expected that he will be inducted into Canton. Leroy Irvin is the only Rams cornerback on this list to play there the majority of their career. Irvin played ten seasons in St. Louis and had 34 interceptions in those ten years. Irvin went to the Pro Bowl twice in seasons in which he grabbed six interceptions. Dick Lane also known as “Night Train” Lane had a short stunt with the Rams, but made the most of it. Lane only played two season with the Rams, walking on the team in 1952. Land originally wanted to play wide receiver, but made the team at cornerback. Lane had 14 interceptions in his first season, which is still a record today. Lane was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1974.

Safety: Eddie Meador and Nolan Cromwell

Eddie Meador is one of the best Rams defensive backs of all time. He hold the franchise record for most interceptions with 46, most fumble recoveries with 18, and most blocked kicks with 10. Meador played all of his 12 years with the Rams making the Pro Bowl eight of those years and was selected all-pro six times. As great as Meador was, he has yet to make the Hall of Fame. Nolan Cromwell is also considered one of the best defensive backs to ever play for the Rams. Cromwell’s best season came in 1980 where he recorded eight interceptions. Cromwell played his entire career with the Rams as well making the Pro Bowl four of his eleven years and was selected all-pro three times.

Coach: Dick Vermeil

John Robinson is the winningest coach in franchise history, but he never took the team to the Super Bowl. Ray Mavelesi and Mike Martz took the Rams to the big game but Mavelesi lost a half time lead and Martz lost a game that the Rams were 14 point favorites in. Vermeil on the other hand turned a franchise around. He took them from being a laughing stock to being Super Bowl champions when nobody said they could after losing their starting quarterback. It is unknown what Vermeil could have done with the team had he stayed three more years, but what he did in his three years was pretty special.That is why I have to choose Vermeil.

The Rams have had a lot of great defensive players play for them in their history, and by the looks of it there are going to be more to add to the list very soon. This is who I think would be on the defense of the Rams all-time team. Enjoy the Hall of Fame game on Sunday, even if it is just preseason.


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  • ricdram

    Two of the best CB tandoms the Rams
    ever had were Rod Perry & Pat Thomas.
    They were on the 1979(80) team that
    lost to the Steelers in Pasadena. They
    were both lock down corners that where
    part of an outstanding defence. Your 3
    CB selections are good but Pat & Rod
    deserve honorable mentions. Good Post.

    • Blaine Grisak

      Thanks I appreciate it. If I had to redo my list I would probably replace Williams and Irvin with Thomas and Perry, all were great players though.

  • MB_Fringe_Dweller

    You have to put Pat Thomas at cornerback. Also I would put Jack Hacksaw Reynolds over Laurinaitis. The defense was so good in the seventies compared to anything since. In coaching, Sid Gilman needs to be mentioned as an innovator. In fact, he was a consultant to Vermeil’s staff.

    • Blaine Grisak

      Being such a young fan is tough. Im only 20 and Im not all that familiar with a lot of the older guys. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see the guys who played in the 70′s, although I sure wish I could have because from what Ive read and what Ive heard, those guys were good, and that is all I have to go off of. From the research that I did this is the list that I came up with. I can see putting Pat Thomas on this list and that’s one spot I could have messed up on. I would consider replacing Anaeas Williams with Thomas. I can also see putting Reynolds in favor of Laurinaitis, but I cant make the switch. From what Laurinaitis has done and what he still has left, he could end up with a better career than Reynolds. Im not taking anything away from Reynolds and that defense by any means, but I still have to stick with my guy. Thanks for the input and feedback I appreciate it.

      • Calvin G Suddeath

        Seeing that you see Reynold play or note that he was in the Super Bowl with the Rams and 49ers and was part of the goal line stand against Cincinnati makes me question what you are asserting.

        • Blaine Grisak

          I knew Reynolds played in the Super Bowl with the Rams and then went on to win a Super Bowl with the 49ers of all teams, but Ill tell you Laurinaitis will get to the big game one day, and possibly very soon. Heck he might even have a goal line stand of his own. Im not taking anything away from Hacksaw but Im telling you Laurinaitis will get there and be one of the greats.

          • Calvin G Suddeath

            Point being Reynolds has done it.Laurinaitis hasn’t yet.

          • Blaine Grisak

            Laurinaitis has done it. Sure he hasn’t been to the Super Bowl or the playoffs nonetheless, but he is the reason why the Rams defense is good right now. Who know how much worse the Rams defense would have been had James not been there. When Hacksaw got to St. Louis in 1970 the Rams defense was already good with Jones, Olson, and many more great players. That doesn’t take away what Jack did as a player at all, but Im just saying Laurinaitis turned the Rams defense around and the rewards that come with winning will come very soon.

          • Calvin G Suddeath

            Done it in 3 years as opposed to 11?Ok.

          • ricdram

            Lighten up Calvin!

          • Calvin G Suddeath

            Honesty never hurts

  • Calvin G Suddeath

    Your age is showing.Monte Jackson,Pat Thomas and Rod Perry were better corners.Hacksaw was a far better Middle Linebacker and you seem to forgot about Jim Youngblood and Rick Kay.

    • Blaine Grisak

      There are only so many spots on a roster,and I cant help what era I was born into. Not being able to watch the older players certainly does not give me any advantage. I wish I could have grown up in the 70′s and watched these guys play, I wish I could have watched the fearsome foursome at their best, but unfortunately I wasnt. I can only go off of what I hear and what I read, and this is the list I came up with. I mentioned in one of the comments that if I had to do it over again, I would put Pat Thomas on the list instead of Anaeas Williams, even though Wiliams was a great cornerback.I cant replace Dick “Night Train” Lane, I could put Rod Perry on the list as well instead of Irvin. I may have messed up on the Cornerbacks a little bit. The Rams have had many great players walk through their door, both in LA and STL, and I just happened to miss a few.

    • Blaine Grisak

      Laurinaitis is underrated by the media and obviously underappreciated by the fans. Laurinaitis will get his credit though. James has been the rock and centerpiece of this defense since he got in STL. For a while there James was the only bright spot of the defense. Even in 2009 when the Rams went 1-15, I knew that the Rams defense was going to be good, and without Laurinaitis it wouldn’t have been possible. James has impressive stats, and now that he has a supporting cast like Hacksaw did and a great coach, he will do great things.

    • ricdram

      Hacksaw was a solid run stuffer
      but he was a HUGE liability in
      pass coverage. Laurinaitis. is
      a much better athlete than Jack.

  • Calvin G Suddeath

    Youngblood and Jones aren’t great players?Are you kidding?

    • Blaine Grisak

      You must have misunderstood me I called them legendary players.

    • Blaine Grisak

      I said that’s why they separated themselves from the others because the others were only great players and younglblood and jones were legendary players. I guess I could have been more clear on that.

  • Calvin G Suddeath

    By the way,They didn’t play for St.Louis,they played for Los Angeles.

    • Blaine Grisak

      I realize they played in Los Angeles, the Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995, but all of these players should equally be apart of the Rams franchise

  • Beer O’Clock

    Great list, Blaine!

    I do agree with Calvin on the MLB, though. I’m sure Laurinaitis will earn the MLB spot in a few years but, right now, I would go with the Hacksaw.

  • Limestein

    Wow, Laurinaitis is going to the hall of fame? I like him and everything, but that is taking it to the extreme. Let him earn it.

    Also, Aeneas Williams played Safety for the Rams, not cornerback.