Robert Quinn, star defensive end for the St Louis Rams, has been voted the 13th best player in the NFL by his peers based on an NFL poll. Quinn led the NFC in sacks last season and has improved on his sack numbers every year since he was drafted in the first round in 2011. Entering his fourth professional season and perfect prime of his career, there has been no signs of slowing down
Arguments can be made that Quinn is the most athletic pass rusher in the league. His combination of size and speed often commands two or even three blockers to help contain him. If you were to ask Drew Brees last season, he would have preferred that the entire Saints offensive line focus their attention on him.
In the Saints’ game against St Louis, Quinn had two sacks and a forced fumble, which featured one of the most athletic plays defensive line coach Mike Wauffle has ever seen. During that play, Quinn was knocked down on a chip by tight end Jimmy Graham. He then crawled on his hands and knees with another Saints offensive lineman on his back. He then stood up at the last second and swiped at the ball Brees was possessing, causing a fumble and recovering it himself.
Wauffle called it the one of the greatest defensive plays of all time. Coming from a guy who has coached players like Justin Tuck and Michael Strahan and been in the league for 17 seasons, that is true testament to the talent of Quinn. The only word Wauffle could find that described that play and the overall demeanor of Quinn was “relentless”
When teams have a star pass rusher like Quinn, the rest of the line is usually far below the talent of that player, allowing teams to send non stop double teams to not allow a player of that caliber to take over a game. That is not the case in St Louis.
Quinn described the game plan teams will face when going up against this defensive line as “pick your poison and hope for the best”. Opposite Quinn is Chris Long, who had 9 sacks last seaoson and has great speed off the edge. In the middle they have 3rd-year man Michael Brockers, who had six sacks last season and a forced fumble. Also anchoring down the middle of that line is prolific college pass rusher and first round pick, Aaron Donald. Attempting to slow down this line of studs in St Louis is going to be a nightmare for all offensive coordinators.
St Louis coaches have said that the only ceiling for Quinn is Canton, and the only person that will prevent him from doing that is Quinn himself. He will look to continue to build on his resume and have a historic season in 2014, he has even whispered about a goal of the single season sack record, of which he was only 3.5 short last year. With this vaunted defensive line and another year of experience under his belt, it is no doubt a possibility.