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Robert Quinn leads race for Defensive Player of the Year

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The Rams pass rusher has a his foot on the gas, cruising toward the Rams' first ever Defensive Player of the Year award.

Michael Thomas

The last time a member of the St. Louis Rams won the Defensive Player of the Year award was ... never. No member of the Los Angeles Rams won it either, since the AP starting giving it out in 1971. This could be the year that changes if defensive end Robert Quinn keeps pounding away at quarterbacks at his current clip.

Quinn notched another big day on Sunday against the Bears. He sacked Josh McCown once, for his 13th sack of the season, and made it count extra with a touchdown on his forced fumble. According to Pro Football Focus, he hit McCown twice and hurried him eight more times for his highest graded game of the season, and that includes two games where he had three sacks.

Only Robert Mathis of the Colts has more sacks, 14.5, than Quinn. The Rams third-year pass rusher is on pace for 18.5 sacks this season. The Rams franchise record for sacks is 17, set by Kevin Carter in 1999. It's worth pointing out the league didn't count sacks as official stat when Rams great Deacon Jones was inventing them; otherwise, he'd most likely have the single-season record.

Pass rushers have won the last two DPOY awards, J.J. Watt and Terrelle Suggs, respectively. Quinn will have some stiff competition. Mathis is making a strong case, as is Gerald McCoy in Tampa Bay, Justin Houston in Kansas City and New Orleans defensive end Cameron Jordan is a dark horse candidate. And you've got a handful of inside linebackers, like Sean Lee of the Cowboys, and defensive backs, like Alterraun Verner of the Titans.

But sacks are the sexiest stat, the one that lures in the old newspaper hounds who cast ballots. That works in Quinn's favor. It also helps that he's been good against the run this year too.

There are five games left to go for the Rams, including one against Arizona and one against Seattle. Both of those teams gave up three sacks apiece to Quinn earlier in the year.

As Chris Long noted, you'd be a fool to try and block Quinn one-on-one. Some teams will adjust. Some won't. Either way, we've got a lot more to see from Robert Quinn this season.

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via cdn2.sbnation.com