After mustering only 2.0 sacks last season, Robert Quinn has recorded a team-leading 4.5 sacks in the Bears' first four games this year.
With a lightning-quick burst off the edge, the 11-year NFL veteran has spent a lot of time in opposing backfields this season. But that's not what Quinn means when he says that he's in a better place than last year.
"Honestly, I'm just mentally and spiritually happy," Quinn said after Sunday's 24-14 win over the Lions. "I took some time to myself this offseason to put myself in a better mind state. I talked to some good friends and pastors, and got myself mentally and spiritually right.
"I brushed off all the nonsense of last year. All that weight I was holding onto is done and over with. I just tried to put the past behind me and make the most out of today. Our next breath isn't promised."
Quinn declined to divulge what was troubling him last year. But it appears that whatever it was is no longer an issue.
"I was in a rough place last year," Quinn said. "I'll just leave it at that. I was in a very rough place, and I think my performance showed that."
Quinn helped the Bears defeat the Lions by generating a key takeaway with a strip/sack of Jared Goff. It came on third-and-goal from the 3 late in the first half with the Bears leading 14-0. Khalil Mack recovered the fumble.
"I got the corner," Quinn said. "Of course, you need time to get there, and coverage had their people locked down and that allowed me an extra second or two to get to the quarterback. With sacks, it's rushing and coverage. Most of the time, it's not just one person."
Quinn will never break his arm patting himself on the back. In interviews, he's uncomfortable talking about himself and prefers to spread the credit to teammates. Asked about his hot start, he acknowledged, "I guess I'm just playing more consistently" but insisted that he's focused on the future.
"I guess being in the league for so long, you have to learn that when the clock strikes zero, you move onto next week," said Quinn, who has recorded 87.0 sacks in 144 career games. "You realize what's in front of you. But to answer your question, it's a good start—but I need to have an even better finish."
When pressed by a reporter whether he'd at least concede that he's playing well, Quinn laughed and said: "You can write that if you want."
Quinn is, in fact, playing well, but he's not the only one. Entering Week 5, the Bears lead the NFL with 15.0 sacks. Mack ranks second on the defense behind Quinn with 4.0 sacks, followed by Roquan Smith (2.0), Mario Edwards Jr. (1.5), Bilal Nichols (1.0), Trevis Gipson (1.0), Akiem Hicks (0.5) and Angelo Blackson (0.5).
Against the Lions, Quinn, Mack, Smith and Gipson all registered full sacks.
"Everyone was trying to disrupt the quarterback and take advantage of the one-on-ones," Quinn said. "When it was your opportunity, I think guys stepped up.
"If we can consistently do stuff like that, of course the defense will be unstoppable. But it's the consistency factor that we have to work on, from the first quarter to the end of the fourth, week-in and week-out. There's a demand to be excellent. We still have some work to do."
Check out the 50 best photos—taken by Bears photographers—from Sunday's Week 4 win over the Lions at Soldier Field.