St. Louis Rams: The Second Coming of the Fearsome Foursome
When looking back into the history of professional football, there is one defensive line who stands out among the rest. The Fearsome Foursome was a nasty group of defensive players for the Los Angeles Rams in the 1960s. They were known for their dominant and merciless play in the trenches.
Dick Butkus said these four men were the most dominant line in football history. The only downfall statistically is that the NFL didn't start recording sacks for defensive players until 1982.
Lamar Lundy was a 6'7" All-Pro who was a monster of a pass-rusher off the end.
Rosie Grier, the All-Pro tackle who came from the New York Giants in 1963, officially anchored the Fearsome Foursome for the Rams.
Merlin Olson is a Hall of Fame defensive tackle who was a first-round pick in 1962 and never missed a single game in his 15-season playing career.
Deacon Jones, also a Hall of Famer, is known for being a 14th-round draft pick who was unofficially the first player to record 20 sacks in a season, as he had 22 in 1964.
Great defensive lines have come and gone after the Foursome, but it seems the Rams have not had the gritty bull-rushers they once had in the 60s and 70s. That has all changed in the 2012 season as the St. Louis Rams, who are beginning a new era under head coach Jeff Fisher, have slowly been evolving into the most recent Fearsome Foursome in the Rams franchise.
Chris Long, DE
As the first-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, it has taken Long a bit of time to develop into the bull-rusher he is today.
With 33.5 sacks so far in his young career, Chris Long has finally started to come into his own. No longer is he being punished by bigger offensive tackles, but he has used his leverage and quick jolts of strength to get to the passer.
He has totaled 158 tackles so far in just over four years and has shown he can get to the quarterback and running backs on the outside as well.
As a part of the new Fearsome Foursome, Long is one of the anchors on the line and a leader on the defense.
Michael Brockers, DT
Only a rookie, he was just drafted in 2012 in the first round with high expectations coming out of defensive powerhouse LSU. But all the hype was crushed as he injured his ankle in a preseason game.
Well, Brockers is back and is looking to make a name for himself in the NFL as an elite gap-rusher. At 6'5" and 322 pounds, it is expected that he will be able to fill in the middle of the line, but also take on the double teams. This asset is a valuable one as he will help free linebackers who can come up and make plays.
With two total tackles against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 5, Brockers' ankle is healthy once again and he will be a force to reckon with as centers and guards will be at his mercy for years to come.
Kendall Langford, DT
Langford is already entering his fifth season in the NFL after he was drafted in 2008 by the Miami Dolphins. Just like Rosey Grier coming over from the New York Giants, Langford now with St. Louis has come to complete the new Fearsome Foursome for today's Rams.
A proven run-stopper in the league already, the big defensive tackle has already amassed 146 total tackles in his short stint in the NFL. With 7.5 sacks and nine passes deflected in his career, he has been known to do it all.
Much like Brockers, Langford also commands the double team because of his huge stature and strength.
Even though first and foremost he is a run-stopper who plugs the middle of the line, he will also get his sacks on the season while recording multiple tackles for a loss.
Robert Quinn, DE
The third first-round pick on the new aggressive defensive line, Robert Quinn plays the end opposite Chris Long. Three sacks and three quarterback hits against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 5 showed he is a major problem for offensive tackles.
A second year player out of North Carolina, Quinn is one of the up-and-coming premier defensive ends in the league. As quarterbacks drop back, it's a pick-your-poison type of deal as they have to worry about both Chris Long and Robert Quinn coming for their heads on the outside.
Another anchor and stronghold on the newly revamped defense, he is already on pace for a 20-sack season and is a very tough matchup. I'm sure he would get Deacon Jones' approval, as he completes the new Foursome for the Rams.
The New Fearsome Foursome
Rams defenses have struggled in recent memory, but this year's has an entirely new mindset. These four players, each young and eager to excel, have nothing but great expectations moving forward.
As they put a tremendous amount of pressure on quarterbacks, each one of them is also a great run-stopper. The tweaked secondary led by Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins also provides tight coverage so that a passer has to wait just a split-second longer in the pocket. That is when they attack. With a solid linebacker core behind them, the Rams defense is rising to become one of the best in the league.
Head coach Jeff Fisher is a defensive-minded one, and he has the guys excited to play hard-nosed football. With the defense emerging, and the confidence building, the new Fearsome Foursome in the league is ready to wreak havoc all season long.