Defensive End Robert Quinn missed the first two games of 2019 as he served a suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. But with a strong debut performance last week against the Miami Dolphins, the veteran proved to the Dallas Cowboys that he was worth the wait.
The Cowboys picked up Quinn in a trade with Miami last March, sending just a 2020 6th-Round pick in exchange for the ninth-year pass rusher. He counts just over $7 million against this season's salary cap and is set to be an unrestricted free agent next year.
Dallas had struggled to get to the quarterback in their games against the Giants and Redskins, but Quinn was part of a three-sack effort against the Dolphins. He had one sack himself and was among the team leaders in QB pressures.
If Robert had any extra motivation against the team that traded him away, his post-game comments didn't reflect that:
“It's just another team on the schedule,” Quinn said. “Coming in, the team was doing well without me, so I was just trying to come in and do my part. I didn't try to hold back. I just wanted to win the game.
“…I felt good. I felt fresh. Just a little concern coming in on how my lungs were going to hold up, but as the game went on — I feel like I got stronger and stronger.”
Quinn gave the Cowboys one of the few things that their 2019 roster is missing, a consistent pass rushing threat to line up opposite DeMarcus Lawrence. Last year's runner up to Lawrence, Randy Gregory, is still suspended and there is no indication yet as to when he'll return.
Gregory's absence this year was an underrated negative during the offseason. It's easy to dismiss Randy because of his overall body of work, but he played in 14 games last year and had six sacks. He was a significant contributor in 2018 and his suspension created a problem.
Thankfully, Robert Quinn appears to be the solution.
One play that won't show up big on the stat sheet, but stood out to me, was when he chased a scrambling Miami QB Josh Rosen to the sideline. Rosen tried to use the roughing/late hit rules to his advantage and sneak a few extra yards at the end of his run, but Quinn attacked and gave him a nasty shove out of bounds.
Playing in the trenches has a lot to do with attitude. You'll hear the word “relentless” often when it comes to pass rushers, and that's not a measure of your size, speed, or technique. It's all about desire.
Robert Quinn is a grown man, a 29-year-old NFL veteran with 70 career sacks and two Pro Bowls on his resume. The former 1st-Round pick has never won a Super Bowl, though, and Dallas looks ready to contend for one in 2019.
Quinn's here to win. And if one week told us anything, the Cowboys are going to win more games thanks to his arrival.