Bernie: Quinn deserves Defensive Player of Year

2013-12-19T14:00:00Z 2013-12-23T13:00:16Z Bernie: Quinn deserves Defensive Player of YearBernie Miklasz bjmiklasz@post-dispatch.com stltoday.com

I really did laugh out loud Wednesday when I saw that Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman was chosen as the NFC Defensive Player of the Week over Rams' defensive end Robert Quinn.

Sherman received the honor after making two interceptions and breaking up three other passes as the Seahawks shut out quarterback Eli Manning and the NY Giants.

Sherman is a great corner, and he obviously had an outstanding game in New Jersey on Sunday.

But picking off Manning doesn't exactly rate as a rare and unique achievement these days. Eli been intercepted by roughly half of the nation's population this season. OK, so that's a slight exaggeration, but he's been intercepted 25 times.

Sherman and the Seahawks did what you're supposed to do when you have the best team in the NFC: go beat up on a mediocre, demoralized opponent and their struggling QB. Make easy work of it. 

What Quinn did in Sunday's win over New Orleans amounted to one of the best individual defensive performances I've seen in a long time.

Quinn led the Rams to a stunning 11-point upset in a variety of ways.

Quinn had two sacks.

He had four solo tackles.

He pressured Saints quarterback Drew Brees into the interception that set up the Rams' first touchdown for instant momentum. That changed the game ... immediately. 

In addition to the two sacks Quinn had one hit and seven hurries for a total of 10 quarterback pressures.

Quinn forced two fumbles but was only credited with one. He recovered one of the fumbles.

Quinn has become so stout against the run that the Saints avoided his side of the field when trying to advance the football on the ground. They directed only one rushing attempt at Quinn. But his range was so vast that he made a couple of run-game tackles out of his area.

Quinn also drew a penalty and embarrassed the Saints' left offensive tackle Charles Brown to the point of surrender. New Orleans coach Sean Payton benched the OT in the third quarter. And Payton will keep Brown benched for Sunday's crucial game at Carolina, opting to start rookie Terron Armstead at LT.

With Quinn wrecking the New Orleans offense, the Rams jolted a 10-win team that entered the game as a 7.5-point favorite.

I guess I'm silly, but I think that's more impressive than disposing of the demoralized and feckless NY Giants.

But I also bring up this absurd snub of Quinn for a reason.

I don't believe an NFL defensive player is having a better season than Quinn. But Quinn plays for a team with a 6-8 record. And when a dominating player is doing it for a losing team, there's a tendency to overlook him.

That was clearly the case in the NFC Defensive Player of the Week voting.

The Rams play Tampa Bay on Sunday and we can be certain of this: the Buccaneers aren't overlooking Quinn. Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano compared Quinn to NFL Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor. That's one helluva compliment.

Schiano told the Tampa Bay media that Quinn is “as good as tomahawk chopping the backside of the quarterback as there is. You haven’t seen a guy do it with that effectiveness since L.T. … L.T. used to knock that ball out with a vicious tomahawk chop. He’s bringing it that way. I mean, seven forced fumbles? Think about that. That’s a lot of forced fumbles in 14 games.’’

Tampa Bay offensive tackle Donald Penn will go against Quinn this week. Penn has allowed eight sacks, four quarterback hits and 27 hurries.

According to Pro Football Focus, he ranks 45th in pass protection among the 62 offensive tackles that have played at least 50 percent of the snaps this year.

“Are you going to stop Quinn? No,’’ Schiano told reporters. “But you have to at least don’t let him take over the game.”

Quinn is the NFL's best 4-3 defensive end this season; no one else is close to him. (More on that later in this piece.) Quinn is a strong contender for NFL Defensive Player of the Year but I wonder if he'll lose votes because he isn't destroying offenses on behalf of a playoff-bound team.

You could say the same about Houston 3-4 defensive end J.J. Watt, who is having another exceptional season. But the Texans are the worst team in the league this season, and that will lead to Watt being unfairly downgraded  in the voting.

Penalizing a great player because his teammates and coaches aren't good enough is one of the most idiotic aspects of awards voting. But it happens all of the time, and in every sport.

And Quinn could get shafted because of this frontrunner mentality that focuses on winning teams, playoff teams.

How much better is Quinn than all of the players at his position this season? Again, we're talking about 4-3 alignment defensive ends here.

And I went to my favorite football-analysis site, Pro Football Focus, to come up with the numbers that affirm Quinn's almost comical dominance at the position.

Here we go:

* Quinn's overall grade for the season is a plus 66.5, which ranks No. 1 at his position. The next best 4-3 defensive end, Miami's Cameron Wake, grades out at 26.4. Yes, that is correct: Quinn's season grade is more than two times better than the second guy in the rankings.

* Quinn's pass-rush grade (plus 52.5) is No. 1 at the position and is more than two times better than the second player in the rankings.

* Quinn leads all 4-3 defensive ends in pass-rush production, pressures (83), sacks (15), QB hits (20), hurries (48) and forced fumbles (7.) 

* Among all players (any position) Quinn leads the NFL in forced fumbles, is second in sacks and is building a large lead among all players in total QB pressures.

* Here's the bonus: Quinn ranks fourth in the NFL in effective run defense among 4-3 defensive ends.

Are you kidding me? It is true. The same intimidating defensive end who's having one of the best pass-rush seasons I've ever seen is also ridiculously difficult to run against. Aren't pass-rush demons supposed to be one-dimensional, one-trick players? This isn't fair.

And it won't be fair if Quinn is denied the recognition that he deserves.

Thanks for reading ... 

— Bernie 

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Bernie Miklasz

You've read Bernie Miklasz in the Post-Dispatch since 1989. Now check out a new video "Breakfast with Bernie" every weekday morning. You'll also see more "Bernie Bytes" around the clock as he posts quick-hit commentaries on a variety of topics.

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