Jeff Fisher has seen his share of elite pass-rushers in the NFL.
From his time playing with hall of famers Richard Dent and Dan Hampton in the early 1980s with the Chicago Bears, to his defensive coordinator days with Reggie White in Philadelphia and his head coaching tenure with Jevon Kearse in Tennessee, Fisher took the reins in St. Louis last year having been surrounded by many of the league’s best at corralling the quarterback.
Comparing Rams DE
“He’s really good right now,” Fisher said following Quinn’s three-sack performance in the Rams’ 23-13 win over Tampa Bay last Sunday. “I don’t make a habit of comparing him to other players, but he’s playing very, very good football right now.”
Quinn is just the latest in a historic procession of elite pass-rushers throughout the Rams’ history. From the ‘Fearsome Foursome,’ led by Hall of Famer Deacon Jones, to Jack Youngblood and Kevin Greene and Kevin Carter and Leonard Little, the Rams have managed to pass the baton of quarterback pursuit for multiple generations. Quinn has become the latest in that lineage.
With his 18 sacks, Quinn has toppled the team’s career sack record, previously held by Carter with 17 in 1999, and has positioned himself to win the first annual Deacon Jones Award, which is assigned to the NFL sack leader. For the initial award to be won by a Ram would be fitting, as Jones, the first 11 years of his career with the Rams organization.
“Very impressive when you take into consideration the history of this organization – and the defensive linemen, the pass rushers, and the Fearsome Foursome, all of that stuff – and for him to set the single-season franchise sack record was pretty impressive,” Fisher said.
The historical significance of Quinn’s time in St. Louis continues to grow. Entering Sunday, his 28.5 sacks over the past two seasons are the second-most in any two-season stretch by a St. Louis Ram. Only Carter, who amassed 29 sacks during the 1998-99 seasons, has more. At just 23 years of age, Quinn has become the youngest Rams player to reach 30 career sacks, as he enters Sunday with 33.5 in his three NFL seasons. Only two other active player—Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs and San Francisco’s Aldon Smith—have totaled 33.5 or more sacks before their 24th birthday.
Combine his pass-rushing prowess with his progress against the run and his nose for the football—he leads the NFL with seven forced fumbles this year—and the Rams have a strong candidate for the team’s first-ever recipient of the Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year award.
“He’s on a different level,” Rams defensive coordinator Tim Walton said. “He’s a special athlete. I think he’s the best rusher in the game right now. You can’t deny him. They go in and double-team him, they chip him, and he finds a way to be very productive on a high level. That doesn’t even include the quarterback hits, the pressures he gets on the quarterback. He’s having an all-around great season, all-around player and he’s the best in the game right now. He’d be my vote for player of the year.”