Those were some good times. Between 1999-2001, the Rams had one of the most dominating teams in the league. Not too soon after, the franchise started to...look different, to be nice. We've seen many come and even more go. We've had high draft picks, huge free agent signings and many other developmental players wear the horns. So, that brings us to this article. After the end of the Greatest Show on Turf era, who were the best players to don those horns? Let's take a look...
Now keep in mind, this list does NOT include starters for I've beloved Rams during any year of the GSOT era...
QUARTERBACK: Marc Bulger - Bulger came around after injuries and the 'Mad Man' got through with Warner. He led the Rams to the playoffs on a few occasions, as well as making the Pro Bowl and being named the MVP of the NFL's...uh, glorious all-star game. Injuries and weak line play kept Bulger from ever hitting his ceiling.
Second Team: Sam Bradford - Still a lot to prove, his mechanics are just as good, if not better, than Bulger. Time will tell with Sam the Ram Bradford.
RUNNING BACK: Steven Jackson - Captain Jack literally was the Rams whole offense during his tenure. Poor receiving after the departures of Bruce and Holt led the Rams to be a run first team, and the multiple time pro-bowl/all pro receiver carried the team on his back.
Second Team: Zac Stacy - Well...there really is no other choice, and Stacy is a beast anyway.
WIDE RECEIVER(S): Danny Amendola and Brandon Lloyd - There's no doubt, the Rams definitely would've benefited from still having Danny on the team. The sure hand, go to receiver suffered from different injury after injury, but when he was on the field, he was definitely fun to watch. As for the latter, Lloyd was the closest thing the Rams have had to a pure #1 receiver since 81 left. We never got to take in his play for a full season as he darted to New England to join his father, McDaniels.
Second Team: Brandon Gibson - Miami certainly showed how effective Gibson can be when he's not used as a number one receiver. He worked the 2 and the slot and was having an awesome season until he was placed on IR. His inconsistent hands kept him from being anything more than the best of a bad situation, but he had several memorable catches while with the Rams.
TIGHT END/FULL BACK: Jared Cook - Not much room here. Cook, who had a disappointing season after receiving his huge contract and hype, did lead the team in receptions and yards this past season. No Rams TE has ever put up numbers like him, though with the hype, we hoped would've been much better.
Second Team: Lance Kendricks - Outside of his less than stellar rookie year, Lance has been a pretty productive and likable Ram, showing effort in BOTH receiving and blocking.
TACKLES (No second team): Jake Long and Rodger Saffold - Saffold was drafted as a guard, but when put Ito the tackle spot, accompanied with health, showed he can be a franchise tackle. As for Long, coming off his first season with the Rams, was having a great season. Not exactly the same player he was in Miami, he was still an anchor on that line and was top 5 voting for tackles in the pro-bowl before he blew out his knee, which would've given the Rams their first offensive linemen to make the pro-bowl in over a decade.
GUARDS (No second team): Harvey Dahl and Richie Incognito - Boy, if we would've had both on the team at the same time, we probably would've had the meanest and most penalized line in football. Both men played with aggression and were solid, but with Dahl's age and Incognito's attitude, neither were destined to be long term solutions, though both were productive.
CENTER (No second team): Scott Wells - With Wells in the game, Bradford stayed on his feet majority of the team. I don't remember a Rams center that read a defense as well as, well...Wells (see what I did there?) since McCollum.
OFFENSIVE LINE SECOND TEAM MAN: Robert Turner - Now, this is interesting. No other Ram really could move on the line quit like Turner...while at the same time, not exactly being starter material. Turner was a great plug in, but was always a second best (even behind those disappointments Bell and Brown). Thus, the perfect player for the position.
DEFENSIVE ENDS: Robert Quinn and Chris Long - Is there any question? This is the closest the Rams have been to D-Line dominance since the fearsome foursome. Both have been excellent edge rushers and each has led the league in QB hurries, and Quinn, after winning the PWDPOY award, is in line to grab more hardware with the AP prize sharing the same name.
Second Team: James Hall and William Hayes - Hall was good during his tenure with the Rams, with a double digit sack season in the mix, while Hayes, showing loyalty to stay with a team to be a rotational back up when his sack totals warrant a starting position elsewhere, is about as good as a rotational end as there is in this league.
DEFENSIVE TACKLES: Fred Robbins and Michael Brockers - Well this is a tale of two cities. Former all-pro Fred Robbins brought his get-after-the-QB attitude with him from the Giants. Unfortunately, the Rams got him at the end of his career, though he was still effective with the most sacks and batted down passes for the Rams as a DT...more than we have seen in a long time. Brockers, on the underhand, is a rock. When he's on a role, QBs better not try to extend pocket time in his direction and RBs better not run that way. Best wall I've seen up front for the Rams.
Second Team: Kendall Langford and La'Roi Glover - Langford is probably the most underrated Ram on the team. Many people are calling for his replacement, when in actuality, he was the Rams second best D-Linemen this season and has been more than effective in both seasons with us, though he seems to be more of a second-half-of-the-season type player. As for Glover, he's another player we got at the end of a nice career. He did have some serviceable years as a Ram though, and in fact, you can still see him on the sidelines of Rams games (not sure what title he has, but he is still with the Rams).
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS: Alec Ogletree and Will Witherspoon - Ogletree showed why we grabbed him in the first with flashes of all-pro potential and he could move east to west faster than anyone. Since Animal Jr. joined the team, no other player has led the team in tackles...until the former Bulldog came along. As for Witherspoon, his services in 2013 did more than give him the spot...sike. This is given more because of his first tenure with the Rams, in which he was arguably one of the best defensive players on the the squad, winning the team's MVP award in 2006.
Second Team: Jo-Lonn Dunbar and Pisa Tinoisamoa - Dunbar is one of the most physical defender the Rams have had this century, with 2012 being a year to remember, while the often forgotten Tinoisamoa was one of the most suave players to ever play in our linebacking core.
MIDDLE LINEBACKER: James Laurinaitis - This man has been the heart of the Rams defense since his arrival. Though a bit of a liability in coverage, he led the team in tackles every year until this past season. We don't know yet if he has reached his ceiling, but if he hasn't, that's pretty scary.
Second Team: Robert Thomas - Never great, but always dependable. Enough said, since Witherspoon, who was originally a MLB, is mentioned with the OLB group.
CORNERS: Janoris Jenkins and Ron Bartell - The Jack Rabbit is easily the streakiest player on the defense. However, when Jenkins is on, MAN is he good. As for Bartell, despite not putting up Sherman-like numbers, he held down opposing number one receivers pretty well during his tenure. Just so happens that a career threatening neck injury isn't that attractive to front offices, though the Lions have recently put use of him.
Second Team: Cortland Finnegan and Travis Fisher - If one good season counts for anything, Finnegan definitely deserves the recognition, despite him falling off the face of the turf this season. As for Travis Fisher, he was very similar to Jenkins...minus the upside...and durability as he always seemed to be injured.
SAFETIES: Oshiomogho Atogwe and Quintin Mikell - How great would it have been to have them at the same time? Atogwe, being one of the greatest Rams ball hawkers in history, and Mikell, being the best in-box safety the Rams have had post-GSOT.
Second Team: Corey Chavous and Craig Dahl - The fact that these two are even mentioned in this list isn't a recognition of their services. Instead, this shows how poor out safeties have been since the GSOT. (Archuleta, who would've been first team, was drafted during the final year of the GSOT era). Still, recognition nonetheless.
KICKER AND PUNTER: Greg Zuerlin and Johnny Hekker - Two second year players, both very good. Legatron will eventually make it to Hawaii (if the pro-bowl lasts) and Hekker is already headed there with an all-pro honor in his name. Two powerful legs makes the special teams a dangerous specialty.
Second Team: Josh Brown and Donnie Jones - Well, the guys that the precious players replaced make the list. One good thing for the Rams is, they have never had bad kickers and punters on their team (ok, they have, but work with me here). These two are very deserving, and Donnie Jones is STILL punting it out the stadium.
SPECIAL TEAMER: Tavon Austin - Despite all the flags that have come with his returns, Tavon is electric and exciting to watch...something we haven't said about a Rams player since the GSOT. As the special teams unit improves on the return game, taking away dumb penalties, look for Tavon's numbers to shoot next season.
Second Team: Dante Hall - Ok, his best years were obviously across state, but he was still fun to watch. Even had a touch down during his brief tenure on a return.
HEAD COACH: Jeff Fisher - A 14-17-1 record in only two seasons for a franchise that had the worst stretch in league history is good enough to let Fisher nab this recognition. This team plays with attitude and toughness under The Stache.
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Brian Schottenheimer - Yikes. In his defense, his tenure has lasted longer. A case could be made for Al Saunders, but he didn't have much to work with. Same with Shurmer, who tried to use Inception to get Bradford to dink and dunk his whole career. Too much arm power for that.
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: The Committee - Yes. Last year's committee approach was the most effective the Rams have been on defense since Lovie was calling plays.
Well, there it is. Feel free to add any players you thought were missing. Thanks for taking time to read my article.