Quinn deserving of player of the year honors

By Howard Balzer

(KSDK Sports) -- Several weeks ago, Rams defensive left end Chris Long was asked about the prospects of defensive right end Robert Quinn being voted to the Pro Bowl this season.

Long replied succinctly, "If Rob doesn't go to the Pro Bowl, they should cancel the Pro Bowl." After pausing, he added, "If Rob doesn't go, I might boycott the state of Hawaii."

Now, Long has amped up his feelings for Quinn. After Quinn's performance in the Rams' 27-16 victory over New Orleans Sunday, Long said, "If there were any justice in the world, he'd be defensive player of the year. There are guys on teams that are constantly playing with leads and a ton more opportunities than he has and are not doing the numbers that he does. He's just flat out dominant. Understanding what we've done record wise and maybe a little bit of the market issue, when it comes to awards like that, you are not always going to get the right people."

Quinn began his dismantling of the New Orleans offense on the Saints' first play from scrimmage. Starting from his own 7-yard line, Saints quarterback Drew Brees dropped back to pass and was hit from behind by Quinn.

The pass was intercepted by safety T.J. McDonald and on the next play from the 31-yard line, quarterback Kellen Clemens connected with tight end Cory Harkey on a quick pass to the right, and Harkey broke tackles while snaking down the sideline for a touchdown. The Rams led 7-0 and never looked back.

With Quinn and other linemen pressuring throughout the afternoon, Brees completed 39 passes with 17 to running backs. Tight end Jimmy Graham had just two receptions for 25 yards.

Added Long, "I think he (Quinn) had a big part in altering the game plan. I don't want to say wrecking it but altering it heavily before it even started. I think our whole D-line did. Obviously he's the guy, but they kept in seven, eight people a lot today. If you watch the tape, they weren't going to let us beat them upfront. That helps the team out and in effect, just changing that game plan, yeah, it matters."

Later in the game, Quinn stripped Brees of the ball and recovered it himself. Coach Jeff Fisher called that play "probably one of the better defensive plays I've seen in my career - just very, very impressive. To get nudged by the tight end between the tackle and the guard inside, go down - the guard pushed him to the ground - crawl back up and knock the ball out was indicative of the type of athlete that he is. It was very impressive."

Quinn had two sacks against the Saints, two forced fumbles and the one recovery, plus six tackles (one for loss), four pressures and three quarterback hits. Twice, penalties were called on the Saints player trying to block him, which was Charles Brown until the second half when right tackle Zach Strief was moved to the left side and Bryce Harris entered the game on the right side.

Said Saints coach Sean Payton, "I saw enough. I saw enough, period. It was enough; penalties, pressures, sacks, it was enough. At some point you just can't keep watching it."

With two games remaining, Quinn has 15 sacks, most in the NFC and 1.5 behind NFL leader, linebacker Robert Mathis of the Indianapolis Colts. He also has eight forced fumbles. Mathis will receive support from the 50-person voting panel, as will Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. There's no clear-cut candidate like J.J. Watt of Houston last year, so Quinn could have a fighting chance.

Asked if Quinn deserves consideration for defensive player of the year, Fisher said, "I don't know of any other defensive player that's playing as consistently as well as he is. There's a lot of good defensive players in the league, but I definitely believe he should be considered for that. Ask Drew Brees."

Howard Balzer will be contributing to KSDK Sports throughout the 2013 NFL season. Howard hosts "H and Friends" Monday-Friday from 9-11 on Fox Sports 1490 The Champ. He is also a host on SiriusXM NFL Radio and one of 44 selectors for the Pro Football Hall of Fame


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