Then and Now - You Decide (1 Viewer)

David Robbins

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We have had great Defensive players on our team. And, it was at all 3 units. Never, though, have we had all 3 units having outstanding players all at one time, until now. Is it the best in the league? No! But, it is by far the best Defensive unit we have ever had.

Now, I wanted to take a look at many of the best players we've had in the past, just to see where we stand now. I won't name them all, because there are too many. But, I will try to get as many of the greats as I can. Then, ya'll tell me where the guys we have now stand with all these oldies but goodies. Also, remember that most players on this list will be from the early 80's and onward, because before that, we didn't have much.

D-Line:

Wayne Martin, Frank Warren, Jim Wilkes, Joe Johnson, Will Smith, Le'roi Glover, Norman Hand.

These are the top guys that we've had on the D-Line in the past. In Saints history, there were none better in the history of our team. They could - for the most part - do it all. They all had very little weakness in their game. They could stop the run, and rush the passer. No, they weren't HOF'ers, and the Line's they played on weren't peppered with ALL great players, playing with them. Today, every one of our guys are Pro-Bowl talents. The guys listed above never had that. However, I believe every one of them could play on our Line today, and we wouldn't miss a beat.

IMO, Wayne Martin, and Le'roi Glover are the best of this bunch. You also can't count out Jim Wilkes. Glover is much better than Sheldon Rankins. If you put him on our line today, there is no QB that would rest easy. Wayne Martin and Cameron Jordan are pretty even in talent. However, Wayne blows Davenport away (at this point in his career). If we had Wayne on our Line today, playing with Cam, combined with La'roi Glover, no team would want to play us!

So, what do ya'll think about my accessment? Granted, I have left guys off this list, but I believe this is the best of the bunch. I cannot think of anybody else we've ever had on our team that is better than these guys, or the guys we have playing today.

Linebacker:

Rickey Jackson, Sam Mills, Pat Swilling, Vaughn Johnson, Jonathan Vilma, Jack Delrio, Scott Shanlee, Scott Fujita, Renaldo Turnbull.

These are all the best we've had, and of course, the first 4 is a given. If they were in their prime, there is no doubt who we would want playing for us. However, when you look at Vilma and Delrio, those are 2 names that could also play with anyone.

Now, today we have Demario Davis. He is head and shoulders above everyone we have at Linebacker today. All the others could be replaced by someone with better talent. Anzalone is injury prone, and A. J. is too slow. Ellis is a rookie, so we don't really know what he will become.

I think it is a given that all the others on this list would be backups to the Dome Patrol. But, if you took the DP out of the conversation, which of these guys could play in place of the guys on our team today? Personally, Vilma and Delrio would get the nod from me. If Jack had played his whole career for us, I believe he would be one of our all time greats. What do ya'll think?

Secondary:

Tommy Myers, Gene Atkins, Sammy Knight, Brett Maxie, Dave Waymer, Ron Harper, Darren Sharper, Jabari Greer, and Tracy Porter.

Man, the cubard is pretty bare in the Secondary for our all time team. Tommy Myers and Sammy Knight could start on any of our teams - including the one today. They were that good. Maxie and Atkins were the standard for us since we became a winning organization, but I believe they would be backups behind Myers and Knight.

Now, we can never forget Dave Waymer. He was great as both a Corner and a Safety. But, would his speed be good enough against todays receivers? To me, the best Corner we've ever had (not counting Lattimore and Apple) is Jabari Greer, and he is the best we've ever had. You could just always count on him to make plays. No, he wasn't a shut down corner, but he could play. The question is, though, could he start for us today, or would he be a backup? What do ya'll think?

This thread is just for fun, but it should provide just a little incite on the history of our Defensive unit. Thought this might bring back memories for all of us. Now, I know there are a lot of great players that I've missed. Sue me, I'm old and can't remember everything. lol. Still, I believe these are the pinnacle of the players we've had. So, tell me what ya'll think, and if I've missed someone you think is better, be sure to write him in there. I'm just curious to know how today's unit stacks up to what we've had in the past.
 

Dago

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you are ignoring the fact that athletes today are faster, stronger, more agile, and bigger than ever

the truth is that virtually none of the the players you are mentioning would be starters of note in today's game
 

Zack Lee

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Glover was great at generating pass rush in a way you don't typically see it at that position. But I was never sold on him being solid enough against the run. Remember the main reason we brought in Hand was that we believed that we needed a monster to offset Glover's lack of size. I'm not necessarily saying he was a liability, just that he might not have been as well rounded as you would like. I may be in the minority but I would go Rankins over him.

Martin and Joe Johnson were both beastly enough to play down lineman in a 3-4. I agree with you on Martin being the best of the lot.
 

SuperKid

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you are ignoring the fact that athletes today are faster, stronger, more agile, and bigger than ever

the truth is that virtually none of the the players you are mentioning would be starters of note in today's game
I keep hearing that statement and I believe this is a False Dichotomy.

It's not as if Human DNA has changed that drastically in 20,30, 40 years. What has improved is training methods, sports medicine and sports injury treatment, and Diet, Nutrition methodology. It's not as if players today have superior Mutated genetics to make them jump higher, run faster, or have adamantium plated bones. They just have the added benefit of being able to train and recover more efficiently due to modern day science.


Regardless I think Wayne Martin, La'Roi Glover, Ricky Jackson, Pat Swilling, Sammy Knight would vehemently disagree that they would not be able to hold up in today's 2019 NFL.
 

Dago

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I keep hearing that statement and I believe this is a False Dichotomy.

It's not as if Human DNA has changed that drastically in 20,30, 40 years. What has improved is training methods, sports medicine and sports injury treatment, and Diet, Nutrition methodology. It's not as if players today have superior Mutated genetics to make them jump higher, run faster, or have adamantium plated bones. They just have the added benefit of being able to train and recover more efficiently due to modern day science.


Regardless I think Wayne Martin, La'Roi Glover, Ricky Jackson, Pat Swilling, Sammy Knight would vehemently disagree that they would not be able to hold up in today's 2019 NFL.
did I say human DNA has changed? regardless of the reason, players today are bigger, stronger, faster, more athletic, AND have a higher IQ for the game.
 

SuperKid

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did I say human DNA has changed? regardless of the reason, players today are bigger, stronger, faster, more athletic, AND have a higher IQ for the game.
You insinuated players in past eras would be incapable of playing in today's NFL which I believe is a false assertion

So hypothetically if there was a time machine that could put players such as Lawrence Taylor, Rickey Jackson, Jim Brown, Walter Payton, Earl Campbell, Deacon Jones in their mid Twenties, you don't think they would be just as dominant if not even more so; given access to all of today's modern day advantages of Training, and Recovery techniques combined with modern sports medicine?

You also have to take into account the NFL was a much more Violent game in their eras, rules have shifted to eliminate a lot of the brutal blocks and hits those players played through back in those times. The difficulty curve of the Passing game was much more difficult to play through as Receivers and Cornerbacks were allowed to be much more physical with each other all the way down the field.

I think if L.T, and Jim Brown were in their athletic primes today, and had access to modern sports science benefits they would be dominating the NFL on levels we haven't seen from their positions.
 

Trey W.

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did I say human DNA has changed? regardless of the reason, players today are bigger, stronger, faster, more athletic, AND have a higher IQ for the game.
As others have stated, everything that makes today’s athletes faster, stronger, more durable, smarter, is all learned traits. Which means if you took athletes from the past and gave them the same training, film room, medical professionals, they would be even greater now than they were. I say greater because these guys were a lot tougher than today’s players. These guys played with serious injuries, broken bones, amputated fingers, broken noses, knocked out teeth, and still dominated. You add that toughness to advanced training and YES they would dominate today’s game also!

Not to mention the older players were playing for their lively hoods! Today’s practice squad guys make more than some of the NFL greats made!
 
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As others have stated, everything that makes today’s athletes faster, stronger, more durable, smarter, is all learned traits. Which means if you took athletes from the past and gave them the same training, film room, medical professionals, they would be even greater now than they were. I say greater because these guys were a lot tougher than today’s players. These guys played with serious injuries, broken bones, amputated fingers, broken noses, knocked out teeth, and still dominated. You add that toughness to advanced training and YES they would dominate today’s game also!

Not to mention the older players were playing for their lively hoods! Today’s practice squad guys make more than some of the NFL greats made!
At least some of it is genetics/breeding. A tall girl doesn't want a short guy so she hooks up with a tall one. Result: even taller kid.
In addition, a lot of athletes meet and marry sisters of their fellow athletes. Result: best traits of both. Not saying that's all of it but there are a boatload more 300+ ponders in the NFL than 20 years ago. Something is happening.
I agree that there are a lot of past NFL players that would succeed in today's league.
Bob Hayes was considered one of the fastest men in the world when he played for the Cowboys.
 

Trey W.

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At least some of it is genetics/breeding. A tall girl doesn't want a short guy so she hooks up with a tall one. Result: even taller kid.
In addition, a lot of athletes meet and marry sisters of their fellow athletes. Result: best traits of both. Not saying that's all of it but there are a boatload more 300+ ponders in the NFL than 20 years ago. Something is happening.
I agree that there are a lot of past NFL players that would succeed in today's league.
Bob Hayes was considered one of the fastest men in the world when he played for the Cowboys.
Your right, genetics has a lot to do with it and these guys already had the genetics to be superior athletes. The reason for more 300+ pounders is because of training and better knowledge of how the body grows. Think about the old days of static stretching, this was the norm and thought of as the best practice. Fast forward to today and static stretching has been proven to not be as effective as originally though and dynamic stretching is the new norm. Thing change and advance over time. Look at all the O-linemen of the 80’s and 90’s, they were all fat lumbering guys. Compare them to today’s O-linemen who are more fit, conditioned, and cut. It’s not because the human body has changed that much over 40-50 years, it’s because training and knowledge of the body that has changed.
 

Humperdoo

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We have had great Defensive players on our team. And, it was at all 3 units. Never, though, have we had all 3 units having outstanding players all at one time, until now. Is it the best in the league? No! But, it is by far the best Defensive unit we have ever had.

Now, I wanted to take a look at many of the best players we've had in the past, just to see where we stand now. I won't name them all, because there are too many. But, I will try to get as many of the greats as I can. Then, ya'll tell me where the guys we have now stand with all these oldies but goodies. Also, remember that most players on this list will be from the early 80's and onward, because before that, we didn't have much.

D-Line:

Wayne Martin, Frank Warren, Jim Wilkes, Joe Johnson, Will Smith, Le'roi Glover, Norman Hand.

These are the top guys that we've had on the D-Line in the past. In Saints history, there were none better in the history of our team. They could - for the most part - do it all. They all had very little weakness in their game. They could stop the run, and rush the passer. No, they weren't HOF'ers, and the Line's they played on weren't peppered with ALL great players, playing with them. Today, every one of our guys are Pro-Bowl talents. The guys listed above never had that. However, I believe every one of them could play on our Line today, and we wouldn't miss a beat.

IMO, Wayne Martin, and Le'roi Glover are the best of this bunch. You also can't count out Jim Wilkes. Glover is much better than Sheldon Rankins. If you put him on our line today, there is no QB that would rest easy. Wayne Martin and Cameron Jordan are pretty even in talent. However, Wayne blows Davenport away (at this point in his career). If we had Wayne on our Line today, playing with Cam, combined with La'roi Glover, no team would want to play us!

So, what do ya'll think about my accessment? Granted, I have left guys off this list, but I believe this is the best of the bunch. I cannot think of anybody else we've ever had on our team that is better than these guys, or the guys we have playing today.

Linebacker:

Rickey Jackson, Sam Mills, Pat Swilling, Vaughn Johnson, Jonathan Vilma, Jack Delrio, Scott Shanlee, Scott Fujita, Renaldo Turnbull.

These are all the best we've had, and of course, the first 4 is a given. If they were in their prime, there is no doubt who we would want playing for us. However, when you look at Vilma and Delrio, those are 2 names that could also play with anyone.

Now, today we have Demario Davis. He is head and shoulders above everyone we have at Linebacker today. All the others could be replaced by someone with better talent. Anzalone is injury prone, and A. J. is too slow. Ellis is a rookie, so we don't really know what he will become.

I think it is a given that all the others on this list would be backups to the Dome Patrol. But, if you took the DP out of the conversation, which of these guys could play in place of the guys on our team today? Personally, Vilma and Delrio would get the nod from me. If Jack had played his whole career for us, I believe he would be one of our all time greats. What do ya'll think?

Secondary:

Tommy Myers, Gene Atkins, Sammy Knight, Brett Maxie, Dave Waymer, Ron Harper, Darren Sharper, Jabari Greer, and Tracy Porter.

Man, the cubard is pretty bare in the Secondary for our all time team. Tommy Myers and Sammy Knight could start on any of our teams - including the one today. They were that good. Maxie and Atkins were the standard for us since we became a winning organization, but I believe they would be backups behind Myers and Knight.

Now, we can never forget Dave Waymer. He was great as both a Corner and a Safety. But, would his speed be good enough against todays receivers? To me, the best Corner we've ever had (not counting Lattimore and Apple) is Jabari Greer, and he is the best we've ever had. You could just always count on him to make plays. No, he wasn't a shut down corner, but he could play. The question is, though, could he start for us today, or would he be a backup? What do ya'll think?

This thread is just for fun, but it should provide just a little incite on the history of our Defensive unit. Thought this might bring back memories for all of us. Now, I know there are a lot of great players that I've missed. Sue me, I'm old and can't remember everything. lol. Still, I believe these are the pinnacle of the players we've had. So, tell me what ya'll think, and if I've missed someone you think is better, be sure to write him in there. I'm just curious to know how today's unit stacks up to what we've had in the past.
Great write up!
Love your assessment.

And reminded me that I got to meet Tommy Myers at a Dick’s sporting goods in Humble Texas. His wife spotted me in my Saints jersey and introduced her husband. He was so quiet and humble, friendly. Wish I could have seen him play. Guess I can watch a highlight vid.
 

duckjr78

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I think comparing players across eras is very hard to do. All you can do is dominate the opponents in front of you. Past that it becomes difficult.

But, what I will say is that this is the first Saints D to have an elite player at all three levels. Much like the Bucs had with Sapp, Brooks, & Lynch, Jordan, Davis, & Lattimore are all playing at an elite level and it’s awesome to watch!

I’ll also add that this is the strongest “starting” 11/12 defense we’ve ever seen. What I mean is, the “worst” player on this defense (Klein?) would have been an above average player on almost every other Saints defense in history.

It’s fun to watch, and that’s why the questionable flags/non-called holding penalties bother me so much. This defense could be downright dominant, if “allowed” to be.
 

Humperdoo

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I think comparing players across eras is very hard to do. All you can do is dominate the opponents in front of you. Past that it becomes difficult.

But, what I will say is that this is the first Saints D to have an elite player at all three levels. Much like the Bucs had with Sapp, Brooks, & Lynch, Jordan, Davis, & Lattimore are all playing at an elite level and it’s awesome to watch!

I’ll also add that this is the strongest “starting” 11/12 defense we’ve ever seen. What I mean is, the “worst” player on this defense (Klein?) would have been an above average player on almost every other Saints defense in history.

It’s fun to watch, and that’s why the questionable flags/non-called holding penalties bother me so much. This defense could be downright dominant, if “allowed” to be.
Wonderful post. I’d agree on the 3 levels. No other comparisons hold a candle to the patrol days imo.
 

Humperdoo

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David I was thinking...you put this offense (any since Sean and Drew arrived) ,with those D’s back in the day and you’d have no one remembering the Niners. Period.
 
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David Robbins

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Lyle Alzado, Dick Butkus, LT, Rickey Jackson, Vaughn Johnson, Carl Banks, Jack Lambert, Mean Joe Green, Deacon Jones, Merlen Olsen........The list goes on and on. Does anyone doubt that these players couldn't play in today's NFL? These guys all had a drive, and an intensity that was unparralled. As mentioned, with today's training and Sports Medicine, these players would not only play, but they would still be HOF'ers.
 

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