The Rams were building into a contender and doing so around their defense. Olsen's arrival coincided with that of Roosevelt Grier, in a trade with the New York Giants. Olsen and Grier were the tackles, and mainstays David "Deacon" Jones and Lamar Lundy at defensive end. Team publicist called them the "Fearsome Foursome." "The Fearsome Foursome changed the way football was played and watched," Michael Gershman wrote on the Colosseum Web site. "They invented stunting and looping techniques, coined the term 'sack,' and made defense a focal point of football." Olsen said the four communicated well. Jones, for instance, charged quickly off the start of a play and was effective at stuffing the run, but often left areas uncovered. "So I accepted the responsibility of covering that territory," Olsen said. "That's how we got the job done."
"I constantly look for new ways to improve my performance," Olsen once said. "I critique myself, I say to myself, 'maybe there's a better way to rush the passer or fight off a blocker.' Just because you've been doing it a certain way for 50 years doesn't mean there can't be a better way." Added former lineman and assistant coach Tony Torgeson: "Merlin had some of the test techniques of any lineman ever. He had great leverage and balance, and never was in a bad position. He was always ready to make a play."
The Rams made the National Football Conference (NFC) playoffs six times in a ten-year span from 1967-1976, but in three consecutive seasons, 1974-76, Los Angeles lost the NFC Championship game and fell one victory short of reaching the Super Bowl. Olsen retired after the 1976 season. He bridged two eras, having played against Hall of Fame running backs Jim Brown and Walter Payton.
- Merlin Olsen - Transition To Broadcasting, Acting
- Merlin Olsen - Outland Trophy Winner
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