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Remembering the Dome Patrol: the greatest LB corps of all time

The Dome Patrol is simply the greatest LB corps of all time

By: Jake Rajala

There is a vast amount of football fans who believe the term “old school football” is a load of hogwash and it just exaggerates the playing period of less player safety and D+ television graphics. Well, that half-empty fan would be mistaken to have that skewed perception of football before Peyton Manning and Charles Woodson entered the league. 

The good-ole football period from the mid-1980s to – late 1990s truly embodied myth-like football figures. There has never been another “1985 Bears defense” or “The Dome Patrol”. We are very familiar with Buddy Ryan’s skull-crushing defense led by Mike Singletary at the Mike linebacker position. But, do we know the other special fossil in “The Dome Patrol”?

In this outlook, I’m going to recap just how scary and talented the Dome Patrol, also known as the greatest LB corps of all time was. Let’s take a look. 

NFL Network rightfully dubbed the Dome Patrol as the greatest LB corps of all time. It’s easy to acknowledge how special the 49ers and Steelers crew was, but the Dome Patrol has more firepower and unique tales. All four LBs on Jim Mora’s defense were elite, consistent, unusually tough, and a part of the unit together for many years. They first made their mark all starting together as the fearsome foursome in 1987. They never looked back until 1993. 

Here is an individual overview of each titan-like LB

Rickey Jackson:

  • Hall of Famer
  • 136 career sacks
  • Six-time Pro Bowl selection
  • Only missed two games in his career  (Cameron Jordan has missed one game in his career, via COVID)

 Sam Mills: 

  • 2022 Hall of Fame finalist
  • Five-time Pro Bowl selection
  • All-Pro in 1996
  • 1,265 career combined tackles

  Pat Swilling: 

  • Two-time All-Pro selection
  • 17 sacks in 1991
  • 16.5 sacks in 1987
  • 36 career forced fumbles
  • 107.5 career sacks

  Vaughan Johnson:

  • Four-time Pro Bowl selection
  • 664 career tackles for the Saints in eight years
  • Vaughan Johnson passed away in 2019 at age 57 from kidney disease

In 1991, the Dome Patrol led the Saints to their first division title in franchise history. They allowed a mere 13 PPG on defense. Yes, you read that correctly. A year later, the game wrecking LB corps and Rickey Jackson-led defense allowed 12.625 PPG. The end of an era arrived in 1993, as Pat Swilling departed in 1994. Jackson would then be shipped away in 1994. The Dome Patrol was a truly remarkable defense and gift to the football world in their tenure together.

So, is the Dome Patrol the best LB unit of all time? If not, who do you believe is the best LB group in the league? Post your thoughts in the comment section below!

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