Robert Quinn's breaking out ... again

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Rams' third-year defensive end is off to lightning fast start. A closer look at the numbers and comparable players says we may only be seeing the tip of the iceberg.

Needless to say, Robert Quinn is off to a pretty good start this season for the St. Louis Rams. He has four sacks in two games. Only Mario Williams has more sacks, 4.5, through the first two weeks of the season. You could call it a breakout season, but he had 10.5 sacks last year. Super breakout? Double breakout? A breakout from the breakout?

Maybe we should just acknowledge that Quinn has arrived, taking his place among the NFL's most fearsome pass rushers.

Former Buccaneers defensive end Stephen White (also a former teammate of Leonard Little for a year at Tennessee) had an interesting note about Quinn in his weekly notebook column on Wednesday. Check out what he had to say:

I've been trying to figure out who he reminds me of and then it hit me this week that he moves a lot like Cardinals outside linebacker John Abraham. If he can come close to the same kind of sustained productivity like Abraham, he should fare pretty well as John already has more that 100 sacks as a pro.

Let's put the two players' career stats side by side. Here are Abraham's numbers:

Def Interceptions Fumbles Tackles
Year Age Tm Pos G GS Sk PD FF Fmb FR Yds TD Tkl Ast
2000 22 NYJ 6 0 4.5 2 0 0 0 0 10 4
2001*+ 23 NYJ RDE 16 15 13.0 6 0 3 7 1 58 8
2002* 24 NYJ RDE 16 16 10.0 2 1 0 0 0 0 48 13
2003 25 NYJ rde 7 6 6.0 1 0 0 0 0 24 8
2004* 26 NYJ RDE 12 12 9.5 2 3 0 1 0 0 35 14
2005 27 NYJ RDE 16 15 10.5 2 6 0 1 0 0 44 14
2006 28 ATL rde 8 7 4.0 1 4 0 0 0 0 15 3
2007 29 ATL RDE 16 16 10.0 4 4 0 0 0 0 31 1
2008 30 ATL RDE 16 16 16.5 1 4 0 0 0 0 37 1
2009 31 ATL LDE 16 15 5.5 1 1 0 0 0 0 30 6
2010*+ 32 ATL LDE 15 13 13.0 4 1 0 0 0 0 35 5
2011 33 ATL DE 15 15 9.5 2 4 0 1 0 0 29 10
2012 34 ATL lde/RDE/rde 16 14 10.0 7 6 0 0 0 0 33 4
2013 35 ARI 2 1 2 0
Career 177 161 122.0 26 43 0 6 7 1 431 91
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/18/2013.

And here are Quinn's numbers so far:

Def Interceptions Fumbles Tackles
Year Age Tm Pos G GS Sk PD FF Fmb FR Yds TD Tkl Ast
2011 21 STL de 15 1 5.0 2 1 0 0 0 0 20 3
2012 22 STL RDE 16 14 10.5 2 1 0 0 0 0 24 5
2013 23 STL RDE 2 2 4.0 2 0 0 0 0 7 0
Career 33 17 19.5 4 4 0 0 0 0 51 8
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/18/2013.

Straight up player-to-player comparisons are hard to make, and putting their tackles and sacks side by side leaves gaps to fill in. However, you do see a similar career track for Quinn after just two seasons and two weeks into a third.

Want another interesting player comparison for Quinn? Try Chris Long. Football Outsiders' similarity scores for Quinn's first two years compare second-most favorably to Long. That's not implying that the two are the same type of players, just that their career work so far shares something on the stat sheet.

White's comparing Quinn to Abraham based on their style of play. Quinn's speed has always been prominent, since the Rams drafted him in 2011. This year, his other pass rushing moves have really come into focus, his swim move and bull rush for instance.

Let's go back to the numbers. Quinn's season so far isn't just sacks; it's total pressure. Quinn had 8 hits and 26 hurries, according to Pro Football Focus, last season. This year, he already has six quarterback hits and seven total hurries. Even when he isn't sacking opposing passers, he's making their lives more difficult. And if sacks are all you care about, you should still be encouraged by those numbers because pressures translate to sacks.

It's going to be a good season, and a good career, for Robert Quinn.

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