Bears OLB Robert Quinn gets another shot to ‘make it the way you want it’

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

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Buffalo Bills v Chicago Bears

Robert Quinn rushes the passer against the Bills.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Perhaps no one on the Bears’ roster is more excited for the season to begin.

Not that outside linebacker Robert Quinn will let it show.

“He’s about as chill as they come,” 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.”

Quinn, 31, had nine months to think about it, though. After receiving a five-year, $70 million contract in April 2020, he had only two sacks opposite Khalil Mack last season. It was the worst year of his career.

Against the Rams on Sunday night, he can turn the page — or compound a problem. On defense, no one’s play will be a bigger harbinger of what’s coming for the Bears this season than Quinn’s.

“[He] didn’t have a good taste in his mouth about how [last] season went,” outside linebackers coach Bill Shuey said. “Then you’ve got to wait. You’ve got to 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 doesn’t dispute his off-the-field scouting report — “I’m probably one of the most chillest dudes,” he said — but makes it clear that 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 kind of 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 have looked for reasons for Quinn’s poor 2020 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. A series of nagging injuries.

He’s more comfortable now. Inside linebacker Alec Ogletree, his friend of eight years, joined the team last month. And Quinn figures to play in a three-point stance more often under new defensive coordinator Sean Desai.

The injuries haven’t gone away; he has 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 got to go do it.”

He has done it before. In 103 starts before joining the Bears, Quinn totaled 80½ sacks. His 82½ career sacks still rank 11th among active players, one spot behind the Rams’ Aaron Donald.

With the Bears, he has been a disappointment so far. 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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