Bears OLB Robert Quinn gets another shot to ‘make it the way you want it’Patrick Finleyon September 9, 2021 at 7:31 pm

Perhaps no one one the Bears roster is more excited to see the 2021 season begin.

Not that outside linebacker Robert Quinn will let it show.

“He’s about as chill as they come,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said Thursday. “Is he motivated? Yeah. Deep down inside, there’s a reason why he’s the type of player that he’s been his whole career. So I’m sure there’s a little chip inside. But for him, he never talks about it.”

The outside linebacker had nine months to think about it, though. After receiving a five-year, $70 million contract, Quinn logged only two sacks opposite Khalil Mack last year. In his age 30 season, he had the worst year of his career.

Sunday, he can turn the page — or compound a problem. On defense, no one’s play will be a bigger harbinger for the Bears’ season-long aspirations Sunday night than Quinn.

“[He] didn’t have a good taste in his mouth about how the season went,” outside linebackers coach Bill Shuey said. “Then you’ve gotta wait. You’ve gotta wait all the way through to this part to get another shot to try to make it the way you want it. He’s anxious.”

Quinn is eager to play. He doesn’t dispute his off-the-field scouting report — “I’m probably one of the most chillest dudes,” he said — but was clear that his attitude doesn’t apply to Sundays.

“[When] you’re not on the field, I mean, what’s the purpose, all hyped up and stuff? You’re just kinda sitting there,” he said. “But you know, once you hear music or the crowd roaring or something, I don’t know, it’s just something, the energy just comes from the noise … When it’s crunch time, you just get yourself hyped, however it is.”

The Bears spent the offseason looking for reasons for his poor performance: moving to a new town during a pandemic, lining up at outside linebacker when he’s more comfortable with his hand in the grass and suffering a series of nagging injuries.

He’s more comfortable now — coincidentally, Alec Ogletree, his friend of eight years, joined the team last month — and figures to play in a three-point stance more often under new defensive coordinator Sean Desai. The injuries haven’t gone away — he’s dealt with a sore back dating to the spring. He missed last year’s opener, but won’t again this season.

“Now,” Nagy said, “he’s just gotta go do it.”

He’s done it before. In 103 starts before joining the Bears, he totaled 80 1/2 sacks. His 82 1/2 career sacks still rank 11th among active players, one spot behind the Rams’ Aaron Donald. He’s been a disappointment with the Bears, though. If that’s going to end, it has to start Sunday.

“All that work he’s put in, how he’s feeling about everything, it’s gonna come down to production,” Shuey said. “And he knows that. He’s excited for that opportunity, I should say: he’s ready.”

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