Seahawks’ plan to deal with Robert Quinn starts with blocking him

Posted Dec 26, 2013

Robert Quinn collected three of his league-leading 18 sacks the last time the Rams played the Seahawks. Having Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung back for Sunday’s rematch should help in slowing Quinn down.

Leave it to Michael Robinson to cut to the chase when it comes to dealing with Robert Quinn.

“Russell is playing this time, and Russell’s going to have to block him,” the Seahawks’ veteran fullback said through a smile. “I mean, that’s just the way it is. It’s no puzzle. You’ve just got to go play.”

Russell would be Russell Okung, the Seahawks’ Pro Bowl left tackle who was out with a toe injury when the Seahawks faced Quinn and the St. Louis Rams in Week 8. Entering Sunday’s rematch, in the regular-season finale at CenturyLink Field, the defensive end for the Rams leads the NFL with 18 sacks – and three of them came in that first matchup in St. Louis.

Okung aggravated that same toe in Sunday’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals, but will play against the Rams.

“So Russell can’t have a sore toe?” one of the reporters gathered around Robinson’s cubicle in the locker room asked.

“No, he can’t,” Robinson said.

“Even if it is sore,” another reporter offered.

“You’ve gotta go. You gotta play. You gotta suck it up,” Robinson said.

The Seahawks have faced four of the seven players in the league who have more than 11 sacks – Quinn, of course; but also Robert Mathis of the Indianapolis Colts (16.5), Cameron Jordan of the New Orleans Saints (12.5) and John Abraham of the Arizona Cardinals (11.5).

In four games against Mathis, Jordan and Abraham (twice), the Seahawks have allowed one more sack than they surrendered to Quinn.

“He’s been the best one that we’ve faced, by far,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “He causes problems whether it’s just speed rushing off the end, but they also moved him inside some now and they’ll put him and (Chris) Long together on the same side. So it’s just not where you can take care of them; one is on this side, one is on that side. You have to really know where they are; know how you want to use your protection schemes.”

Long, the Rams’ other end, has 7.5 sacks – and three came against the Seahawks.

Quinn has been a force against the entire league, not just the Seahawks. He also had three-sack performances against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week and the Cardinals in the season opener. He also has had two sacks twice.

At 6 feet 4 and 264 pounds, with speed, quickness and a relentless motor, Quinn is cut from the same cloth as the Leo ends that coach Pete Carroll and coordinator Dan Quinn feature in the Seahawks’ No. 1-ranked defense – Chris Clemons and Cliff Avril, who have combined for 12.5 of the team’s 42 sacks.

“It starts with his speed. He’s really fast,” Carroll said of Quinn, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds coming out of North Carolina in 2011, when the Rams made him the 14th pick in the NFL Draft.

“He’s a tremendous athlete and he’s got great flexibility, terrific quickness. He’s got the body of a skilled athlete, of a defensive back-type athlete. He’s a rare athlete for this position. He’s the kind of guy who’s exactly what you’re looking for in the Leo position. He’s got the speed. He’s got the athleticism. He can do whatever you need him to do.”

That definitely was the case on that Monday night in mid-October, when Russell Wilson passed for just 139 yards, the fifth fewest of his career; and was sacked a career-high seven times, or more than he was in the next five games combined (five). The Seahawks, who were playing without right tackle Breno Giacomini as well as Okung, won 14-9. But only when since-suspended cornerback Brandon Browner tipped a fourth-down pass into the end zone incomplete on the final play.

“We certainly don’t want the same game to show up for them,” Carroll said.

When asked about Quinn’s season, Rams coach Jeff Fisher offered, “It’s been special,” before adding, “Some of the things he’s done, you just don’t see every day. There was a play against the Saints that was one of the best defensive plays I’ve ever seen.”

On that play, Quinn used an inside move that left Saints’ tackle Charles Brown flat-footed and then produced one of his six fumble-forcing sacks, which also leads the NFL.

“He’s very, very quick. He’s strong. He bends. He leans. He’s got really good hands,” Fisher said of Quinn, who had five sacks as a rookie and 10.5 last season. “And he’s defeating the odds right now, with the double-teams and the nudges and all those things they talk about the way people try to get the tackle help. He’s still getting there.”

But Quinn is hardly a one-trick pony, even if that pony is having a season as a pass rusher that’s part Clydesdale, part thoroughbred.

“I think the one thing people don’t realize is that he’s an outstanding run defender as well,” Fisher said. “He’s really fun to coach. He’s great teammate.”

And, Robert Quinn also is one player the Seahawks will have to do a better job of blocking on Sunday than they did in that “Monday Night Football” game in St. Louis.