Robert Quinn’s emergence as a pass rush weapon

Robert Quinn sacks Drew Brees. Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Before the season began, Doug Farrar characterized the Rams’ first round draft pick thusly: “Putting Chris Long and Robert Quinn alongside each other might just be illegal.” 

I thought it would be interesting to check back in on Quinn’s success last season in light of the PFF annual Pass Rusher Producitivity rankings. Chris Long began showing up well in these rankings two years ago, effectively predicting his breakout as an elite pass rusher while most of St Louis talk radio was busily heaping dirt on his grave. And indeed, Long shows up well in this year’s ranking, coming in 6th overall. 

Quinn, however, did not rank in either the top 20 or the bottom 20, so I had to do a little digging to determine where he sat. Here are his raw stats, as counted by Pro Football Focus:

341 pass-rushing snaps. 6 sacks. 30 combined hits and hurries. (In reviewing the tape, they give him credit for a sack against the Niners in week 13, whereas the NFL does not.) 

The formula: PFF’s rating gives full weight to the sacks, and 3/4 weight to other quarterback disruptions, and divides that sum by the total number of pass-rush attempts to account for a player’s efficiency in getting to the passer.

Robert Quinn’s rating: 8.35, squarely in the middle. Not bad for a rookie. 

What is interesting, though, is that Quinn had six games where he was as disruptive at a top-20 level, and six more where he was all but shut out of the pocket entirely. Here’s a quick recap of the good and the bad:

Good Robert:

  • 3 hits, 4 pressures in 38 rushes vs Baltimore
  • 1 sack, 2 hits, 2 pressures in 33 rushes vs New Orleans
  • 1 sack, 3 pressures in 27 rushes vs Arizona (wk 9)
  • 1 sack, 2 pressures in 22 rushes vs Seattle (wk 11)
  • 1 sack, 1 hit, 1 pressure in 18 rushes vs Arizona (wk 12) 
  • 2 hits, 2 pressures in 29 rushes vs Seattle (wk 14)

Worth noting: None of these four teams have much to speak of at left tackle (with Russell Okung hurt, at least), with Baltimore’s Bryant McKinnie the best of the bunch. 

Invisible Robert: 

  • 1 pressure in 18 rushes vs Washington
  • zip in 16 rushes vs Green Bay
  • 1 hit in 15 rushes vs Dallas
  • 1 pressure in 18 rushes vs Cleveland
  • 1 pressure in 29 rushes vs Cincinnati
  • zip in 14 rushes vs Pittsburgh
Here, Quinn was going up against some of the better left tackles in the league, including Cleveland’s Joe Thomas, the unheralded Andrew Whitworth in Cincinnati, and Trent Williams in Washington. 

For the most part, Quinn’s battles are going to be one-on-ones with these elite blindside protectors. At least until he earns the right to be double-teamed. His acceleration as a pro is going to be determined by how much improvement he can make against this level of competition in 2012.