Quinn Making Case for Defensive Player Of the Year

Posted Dec 17, 2013

Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher did not mince words when asked to assess Robert Quinn’s candidacy for the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year award. And frankly, given the ample supply of evidence in support of Quinn both in the past week and over the course of the 2013 season, he would have little reason to do so.

“I don’t know of any other defensive player that’s playing as consistently as well as he is,” Fisher said at his Monday news conference. “There’s a lot of good defensive players in the league, but I definitely believe he should be considered for that. Ask Drew Brees.”

Brees could certainly represent an authority on the subject of Quinn’s performance, the Saints’ quarterback was on the receiving end of two sack-fumbles by Quinn on Sunday, giving him 15 sacks and eight forced fumbles on the season. Both figures are tops in the NFC. Quinn’s performance in the first half alone was enough to prompt Saints Head Coach Sean Payton to replace LT Charles Brown with RT Zach Strief in order to better contain the Rams’ premier pass-rusher. The two-sack performance on Sunday was Quinn’s fourth multi-sack game of the season, which includes a pair of three-sack games.

“Rob is, in my opinion, the best pass-rushing defensive end in the league,” said fellow defensive end Chris Long following Sunday’s game. “He makes everyone better around him.”

Quinn has hardly been a pass-rushing specialist, however. Despite his gaudy sack totals, it’s been his progress in defending the run that has often stood out most. His 14 tackles for loss are a team-best, and his 51 total tackles are a career-high.

Quinn’s production has come despite the fact that the Rams, at 6-8, often have faced teams with run-first offensive approaches in the second halves of games for much of the year. The Rams have faced just 456 pass attempts this season, the seventh-fewest in the NFL.

Even when Quinn’s pass rush has not reached the quarterback, he still has made his presence felt. On the Rams’ first defensive snap on Sunday, it was Quinn whose pressure on Brees forced an errant pass, which was intercepted by S T.J. McDonald to set up the Rams’ first score of the day.

Quinn’s numbers in his third NFL season are not only among the league’s best this year. They have also become increasingly threatening to a pair of Rams team records. His 15 sacks are just two shy of the official team record of 17, set in 1999 by Kevin Carter. His eight forced fumbles are the most by a Ram since Leonard Little had nine in 2002, which is the most since the Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995.

For his part, Quinn has downplayed his pursuit of the most prestigious award given to a defensive player, and has been quick to redirect his success to those around him.

It’s never just a one man show,” Quinn said. “It’s the other D-linemen getting pressure and the back seven covering, so every sack I get is a credit to the rest of the defense.”

If he were to win the Defensive Player of the Year, which was first awarded by the Associated Press in 1971, he would be the first to do so in Rams history.