One year after being limited to a career-low 2.0 sacks, Robert Quinn is on the cusp of breaking the Bears' single-season sack record.
With 17.0 sacks entering Sunday's home finale against the Giants, the 11-year NFL veteran is just a half sack from tying Hall of Famer Richard Dent's franchise mark set in 1984. Quinn also trails league-leader T.J. Watt of the Steelers by 0.5 sack and is 0.5 sack from becoming the sixth active NFL player with 100.0 career sacks.
While Quinn's resurgence following a disappointing first season with the Bears in 2020 has been a pleasant surprise to many, his coaches and teammates were confident he'd revert to the form he's shown throughout most of his career.
"The signs are always there with any dynamic player, meaning they go through the preparation and the process the same way," said defensive coordinator Sean Desai.
"His approach in the offseason—like I've said repeatedly—has been awesome. His practice habits every day are awesome. His meeting demeanor. He's bought into the way we want to play defense. He's done a tremendous job. All of those signs, when you've got a dynamic player who's got a proven history like that, are there."
Quinn has performed at a consistently high level throughout the season, registering at least 0.5 sack in 12 of 14 games played. (He missed one contest Oct. 24 in Tampa while on the reserve/COVID-19 list.) The 6-4, 245-pounder has been especially productive the past month and a half, registering 10.5 sacks in his last six games.
Quinn has been named to his third Pro Bowl and was selected the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for November after compiling 5.5 sacks, 14 tackles, five tackles-for-loss and two forced fumbles in three games.
Although the North Carolina product is soft-spoken and humble, he helps fuel the Bears defense.
"In the locker room especially, he's a high-energy guy," said safety Eddie Jackson. "He keeps everyone up, everyone on their toes. He's a guy who comes in, he works, he's focused, and just to see him go out there and see him making those insane plays, it's incredible. And for that, we just want to feed off that and get to that level.
"He's a unique guy. He has his own style, his own swag. He continues to do his thing and we're very proud of him."
One of the "insane plays" that Jackson referenced occurred late in last Sunday's 25-24 comeback win over the Seahawks. In position to take a two-score lead midway through the fourth quarter, Seattle advanced to the Bears' 8. On third-and-4, a relentless Quinn chased down and sacked Russell Wilson for a 13-yard loss. Jason Myers followed with a 39-yard field-goal attempt that barely drifted wide left, keeping the margin at 24-17 and allowing the Bears to rally for the win.
"At a time in the game like that, we all know you need your big-time players to step up and make big-time plays," Desai said. "On that particular play, Robert stepped up and made a huge sack for us, which was tremendous."
The sack enabled Quinn to tie Dent for the second highest single-season sack total in Bears history. After setting the team record with 17.5 in 1984, the Hall of Famer followed with 17.0 in 1985 for the Super Bowl XX champions.
Asked if eclipsing Dent's record would be meaningful to Quinn, Desai said: "I don't know how it wouldn't be. I know he's a humble guy and we all want the wins first, right? You're in this sport to win as a team and, so, that's still our primary focus as we go unto the Giants game. If he gets it, yeah, I think it will be meaningful. Will it be meaningful in that moment? I don't know. I think any time these guys set records and things like that, there's a time and place for them to be able to reflect on it, and he'll have that for the rest of his life, to be able to reflect on that."
Quinn has excelled as more than just a pass rusher this season; he's also played extremely well against the run, registering 47 tackles and 17 tackles-for-loss.
"In my opinion, it's one of his best years that he's played as a run defender, certainly as a pass dropper because he hasn't dropped much in his career, and obviously as a pass rusher, you've seen it, one of his best years as well," Desai said. "He's done a tremendous job in all aspects of our defense."
The Bears spent a chilly afternoon on the practice fields at Halas Hall as they prepare to host the Giants at Soldier Field.