When Quinn struggled in the 3-4 with the Rams in 2017, he had 2.5 sacks at this point, but six in the final six games. In 2018 with Miami, he had one sack in his first nine games, but 5.5 in the next six.
Edge rusher Robert Quinn knows the Bears didn’t give him a five-year $70 million contract to stop the run, occupy blockers and do the little things. He got the big money to sack the quarterback.
So rather than make excuses, Quinn couldn’t help but lament reality — his one sack, three quarterback hits and zero tackles-for-loss in nine games this season aren’t cutting it.
“My season? I’ll be honest, it’s been very average. Not up to my standards,” Quinn said. “We’ve got six more games left — anything can happen. I know how I prepare. I know how I train. Statistically it just hasn’t been my season. Effort, charisma, all that stuff’s been there. It’s just getting the numbers up that we’re all looking for.”
Quinn’s quiet season has been a mystery on a Bears defense that ranks ninth in yards and sixth in points this season. Nose tackle Eddie Goldman’s absence has been felt and linebacker Danny Trevathan started slowly. But every other facet of the defense has been as good as advertised, with defensive end Akiem Hicks, outside linebacker Khalil Mack, inside linebacker Roquan Smith and cornerback Kyle Fuller leading the way.
The recipe has been there for Quinn to give the Bears the pass-rushing upgrade over Leonard Floyd. The Bears, in fact, have defended more pass attempts on pass-rushing downs (second-and-eight or longer; third-and-five or longer) through 10 games in 2020 (171) than in 2019 (159).
Instead of the expected boost, Quinn has one fewer sack than Floyd had at this point last year (three). That Floyd has seven sacks with the Rams this season makes the situation even worse.
Quinn can’t pinpoint the problem.
“If I knew, I’m sure they wouldn’t be there,” he said. “I don’t know. It’s just been one of those years. Just hasn’t been one of my best years, but we’ve still got a chance [to make the playoffs]. And even though my performance [is below standard], we’re still holding together as a great defense. It’s not all just about me.”
Bears outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino also acknowledged Quinn’s disappointing production but is hopeful Quinn will find a better pass-rushing groove with more snaps. Coming off a preseason injury, Quinn played 50% or more of the defensive snaps once in the first six games. He’s reached that mark in each of his last three games, including 41-of-55 snaps (75%) against the Titans on Nov. 8.
Like just about every under-performing pass rusher ever, Quinn is oh-so-close to breaking out. That was part of the discussion Monachino had with Quinn prior to the bye-week break.
“I think that meeting was valuable for all of them, especially him,” Monachino said. “Because he sees that he’s close and a couple little things from a technique standpoint and a couple of things early and late in a down can help him have productive rushes. I think he knows this is not a difficult game and sometimes we try to make it too difficult. He’s got to focus on little, tiny details that help him finish rushes.”
It’s not over yet. When Quinn struggled in the 3-4 with the Rams in 2017, he had 2 1/2 sacks at this point, but six in the final six games. The following year with the Dolphins, he had one sack in his first nine games, but 5 1/2 in the next six.
“I’m just trying to be the best player I can be,” Quinn said. “Why things aren’t going the way I expect them to, I don’t know. I’m just trying to disrupt as much as I can. Even I don’t get the sack or [tackle-for-loss], if I can free up someone else to make a play, that’s still being effective.”