In recent seasons it's been hard to think of the Rams defense as great, even mediocre would be an extraordinarily charitable description. As a matter of fact, the Rams defense used the last couple games of the season to keep from being one of the worst defenses in recent history. But, now, they're changing all that, leaving that legacy behind, so instead of thinking about how bad the Rams defense has been recently maybe it's time to start reminding ourselves about some of the Rams better defenses.
How about 1973 for starters? Now, I can't claim to remember the '73 Rams, as I was probably still a happy little roach somewhere, leading a good life, waiting to be reincarnated in my current form.
The 1973 Rams allowed a stingy average of just 12.7 points per game and 211 yards per game. The yards per game total was best in the league that year, while the points per game total was fourth best.
In 1970s, specifically 1973 through 1978, defense defined the Rams. In each of those six seasons they were among the top four teams in both the yards per game and points per game categories, leading the league in points per game in '74 and '75 and tops in yards per game in '73 and '78.
Looking at the roster for those season, it's little wonder that the defense was so successful. Up front, Hall of Famers DT Merlin Olsen (who retired after 1976) and DE Jack Youngblood. Fred Dryer, TV's Hunter, also started up front during those halcyon days. The LBs were led by Isiah Robertson and Jack Reynolds, who made frequent trips to the Pro Bowl during that span.
The party ended after 1978, when Robertson left along with CB Monte Jackson, who had 17 INTs in his first three seasons with the Rams '76-78.
Obviously, the Rams are a long, long way from a defensive dynasty like they had in the '70s. Those days are gone like Plato's Retreat, disco and all that other crappy VH1 nostalgia. The team's along way from accumulating a collection of talent like that. However, I'm optimistic that Spagnuolo will instill an indentity in the defense again. For that, the team has to start gathering talent, young talent. Re-signing CB Ron Bartell and bringing in SS James Butler were smart moves that complement last year's first round pick, DE Chris Long, and shoulda-been a second time Pro Bowl FS O.J. Atogwe. There's still plenty of work to do, but it's nice to stop and reflect on the past and the progress being made for the future.