Dynasty Player Spotlight: Robert Quinn Interview

Steve Wyremski


In 2011, Robert Quinn quietly put together a rookie season tallying five sacks in limited time as a rotational defensive end playing roughly fifty percent of the team’s snaps. That rookie production came after no OTAs in his rookie season due to the 2011 lockout and missing a year of football due to academic ineligibility at the University of North Carolina in 2010.

With the St. Louis Rams’ right starting defensive end position vacant this offseason due to the departure of James Hall, Quinn is set to make the NFL his professional sandbox and toy with the top left tackles and quarterbacks across the league. If his nine quarterback hits and his 21 quarterback hurries in 2011 are any indication, double-digit sacks are not beyond reach in a full-time role in 2012. He will be an integral part of a defensive line that includes three first round caliber defensive lineman (Quinn, Chris Long, and Michael Brockers) who now have the task of helping the Rams break the NFL record for team sacks in 2012.

I spent some time talking with Robert about his 2012 starting opportunity, his rookie season, the benign tumor that was found on his brain in high school, becoming an all-around defensive end, and the Rams’ goal to break the NFL record for team sacks in 2012.

Spoiler alert – he does not have a personal sack goal.

The below is only an excerpt of the interview. You can listen to the audio of the interview in it’s entirety.

Steve Wyremski (SW): How are you feeling with the OTAs this year as compared to last year?

Robert Quinn (RQ): Of course last year, I didn’t get to go through the OTAs with the lockout. This year, I’ve definitely taken advantage of it, especially in my second year. [I’m] a lot more comfortable. It’s not just a big plus for me, but the team in general, especially with the new coaching staff.

SW: Any one player throughout OTAs, whether it be a rookie, younger guy, or yourself that’s standing out?

RQ: You brought up the rookies so, Mike Brockers. He’s definitely showing flashes throughout practice. [It’s the] same with Janoris Jenkins and [Isaiah] Pead. It’s still early, but guys are definitely showing flashes and getting better every day.

SW: There was a quote from you that was highly publicized that talked about Jeff Fisher saying that he wanted the Rams to break the NFL record for team sacks. With the addition of Brockers, you in the starting lineup, and Chris Long on the other side, how dominant can this defensive line be?

RQ: I definitely think we can be dominant. We set the bar ourselves with how dominant we want to be. Everyone has their own personal goals or their own personal level that they think they can play at. As a unit, we can definitely be one of the most dominant d-lines that’s shown in a while.

SW: I want to go back to your high school years when You [had] the benign tumor [that was identified].  You were told that you may never play again. For someone like yourself that was a top college recruit and obviously a natural athlete being a 3-time state wrestling champ, what was that like for you?

RQ: I actually still have the tumor in my head. In October it will be five years. Suffering that at such a young age was definitely tough, but [it] bettered me as a person. The most things I appreciate are the little things. I’m trying to take advantage of it as well. Like you said, I was told I wasn’t going to play sports again, but after a month or two I was back wrestling in high school. The story kind of writes itself after that. I definitely thank God every day for giving me a second chance and I’m just trying to take advantage of all my opportunities nowadays.

SW: Back to the field, in week three against Baltimore last year, you had three quarterback hits and four quarterback hurries. It really seemed to be your most active and best game of the year. You lined up against Bryant McKinnie that game. You really seemed to light him up, huh?

RQ: [Laughs] I was just going out and trying to have fun on the field and trying to get in to the routines of being a pass-rusher. I went out there and just had a different mind-set. I guess I just matched up well against him.

SW: With you being a speed-rusher, from a run defense point-of-view that’s been noted as a weakness in the past. Where do you feel with your run defense as compared to your college year’s or prior to your rookie season last year?

RQ: I know Coach Waufle and Clyde Simmons, they’re definitely enforcing stopping the run. They want us to be complete defensive lineman this year, so I definitely appreciate what they have brought to the table. I have to prove people wrong.

SW: Last year, in most games you were really part of a rotation playing roughly 50% of the team’s snaps in any given week. With James Hall moving on, you seem to be set to take over the starting spot. Do you feel ready for a full-time role right now?

RQ: Even last year I felt ready. I guess you just have to wait your turn. With these OTAs, I’m definitely preparing myself to be a full-time starter. My back-up Eugene Sims, he’s definitely ready if he gets the opportunity to get out there and start. We’re just trying to better ourselves to complete the right side at defensive end.

SW: Everyone talks about the professional game being faster out of college and that there’s a lot more focus on technique. With your experience in the rotation last year and your time in the OTAs this offseason, do you think things have slowed down for you at this point.

RQ: Last year, I definitely felt like things (towards the mid or end of the season) began to slow down with me getting more equated and balancing things out with the speed. This year, things have definitely slowed down a lot. It’s like things were in college. The first year was a little rough [while] you’re trying to make the transition, but your second year… It definitely has slowed down a lot.

SW: I know your ultimate goal is championship. That’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow type of thing. That said, there are some rumblings among the fans and the media that people are expecting a breakout year from you (similar to say what [Jason] Pierre-Paul did last year). Do you feel that way yourself as well that this has the potential to be a breakout year for you?

RQ: Of course I always want to have an outstanding year, but it’s not on me specifically. Throughout the whole d-line, I see a lot of guys improving themselves. If I’m having a good year, I think the rest of the d-lineman are going to have a great year. I don’t think it’s just going to be me that’s going to shell-out. Like Coach Waufle says, he wants to break the NFL sack with just his d-line, so I don’t think I can get that many sacks in a year [73 sacks]. I think a lot of guys are going to be out there producing.

SW: You mentioned setting the NFL record for sacks as a team, what’s a realistic sack number that you may be targeting yourself?

RQ: I don’t have individual goals right now. I’m just trying to focus on perfecting my craft. Only main goal I have, like you said, is winning a championship. That’s the main thing. No matter what your sacks say, if you win a championship… that’s all that really matters.

SW: Well, I’m guessing a double-digit sack year from you.

RQ: [Laughs] I wouldn’t mind it.

So, he won’t give us a target sack number, but the bottom line is that after a rough start to his career in his rookie year (like many 2011 rookies) after missing OTAs, things have slowed down for Quinn, he is comfortable, and poised a solid season.

Left tackles and quarterbacks better have their pad and pencil ready this preseason. I am not sure Mr. Quinn is going to play nice in the sandbox.

Listen to the audio of the full interview

Follow Robert on Twitter and follow Steve on Twitter.