The Los Angeles Rams through the first three weeks of the season are one of the surprising teams in the league currently leading the NFC West with a 2-1 record while riding a two-game win streak.
A huge part of that success has been their defense that has made several key plays. One of the players that has stood out on that side of the ball so far this season has been none other than defensive end Robert Quinn, who has seven tackles with two sacks, and two forced fumbles. This includes currently being tied for the league lead in forced fumbles.
The 26-year-old put on full display his game-changing ability in the Rams' 37-32 road win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a couple of big plays. With Los Angeles leading 24-20 early in the fourth quarter, Buccaneers quarterback Jamies Winston progressively led his team into the red zone with a chance to put them ahead. However, Quinn responded by beating left tackle Donovan Smith off the edge allowing him to strip sack Winston opening way to teammate Ethan Westbrooks scooping the ball up and chug 77 yards for the score that gave the Rams a much-needed 31-20 advantage.
His biggest play of the game came on the final play of the fourth quarter as he came around the edge once again and tackled Winston down at the five-yard line to seal the win for the Rams. These two plays have given head coach Jeff Fisher much reason to believe that Quinn has returned to playing like the player that led the NFC with 19.0 sacks in 2013 prior to his season-ending back surgery last December.
“He’s there, he’s back. Our opponents understand that too," Fisher said. "So when Robert lines up and there’s a tight end next to him and he’s chipping or the back chips him before he goes out, they understand that. They’re trying to neutralize his rush skills. We have to continue to evolve defensively, to create positions where we can create one-on-ones.”
Quinn has continually shown strong signs that he's completely healed from the injury that prematurely ended his 2015 season after just eight games. He was on pace for another solid campaign with 5.0 sacks, three forced fumbles, and 21 total tackles despite also dealing with both a knee and hip injury that limited his effectiveness.
That said, Quinn has returned to being a bruising force along the Rams' defensive line has helped once again give them one of the most formidable front fours in the league. Los Angeles currently has just four total sacks but are still applying a significant amount of pressure on opposing quarterbacks with 23 hits, which is the fourth-highest mark in the NFL through the first three weeks.