Robert Quinn’s first season with the Chicago Bears was nothing short of a disaster. After signing a lucrative five-year, $70 million contract in 2020, Quinn delivered just two sacks last year, leading many to question general manager Ryan Pace’s decision to sign the oft-injured pass-rusher to such a big payday.
Now, five weeks into the 2021 season, Quinn already has 4.5 sacks and has combined with Khalil Mack to give Chicago one of the NFL’s most-feared pass-rush duos. The Bears lead the NFL with 18 sacks, with Mack and Quinn combining for 9.5 of them. The pass rush was a big reason why Chicago handled the Las Vegas Raiders offense with such ease in Week 5’s win.
“When Khalil plays how he did, now you have both those guys on the edges playing like that, everybody else, it helps them out, and now they start playing better, and so it’s a domino effect,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said. “They’re complementary to each other, and they’re having fun with it now.”
Fun is one way to put it. Motivated is another. Check out Quinn’s hustle on this play against Vegas, even though it wasn’t a sack:
Quinn and Mack are two of the Bears’ five highest-graded defenders this season, according to Pro Football Focus, with Mack earning the team’s highest pass-rush grade among starters. Quinn is fifth. Mack has the most pressures (17) on the team, and, you guessed it, Quinn is second (15). They’re also the only pass-rush duo who both rank in the NFL’s top-10 of sack leaders this year.
"Honestly, I'm just mentally and spiritually happy," Quinn said last week. "I took some time to myself this offseason to put myself in a better mind state. I talked to some good friends and pastors, and got myself mentally and spiritually right.”
Quinn’s offseason effort and in-season production are a big reason why Chicago’s defense is surging. The Bears rank eighth in yards per game, 12th in passing yards per game, and 12th in rushing yards per game. They lead the league in sacks and are 10th in interceptions. The Bears’ defense had its best showing of the season against a powerful Raiders offense, limiting quarterback Derek Carr to just 206 yards and an interception.
The real test for Mack, Quinn, and the rest of the defense will come this Sunday against Aaron Rodgers and the NFC North-leading Green Bay Packers. If they don’t get home against Rodgers, it’s unlikely the secondary will be able to clamp down on wide receiver Davante Adams, who went off for more than 200 receiving yards and a touchdown in Green Bay’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Safety Eddie Jackson called Mack the Bears’ defensive leader after their win over the Raiders, and now with a resurgent Quinn opposite him, the best may be yet to come in Chicago.