Should Bears Be Concerned About LB Robert Quinn’s Mysterious Start?

Bears Robert Quinn ramp up

Getty New Chicago Bears LB Robert Quinn has been on his own schedule this offseason, and into training camp.

The Chicago Bears signed veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn to a five-year, $70 million contract this offseason with the hopes of improving their defensive line. Essentially swapping out former first-round pick Leonard Floyd for Quinn, the goal was to help free up the likes of All-Pro linebacker Khalil Mack with a more dominant presence on the opposite side. So why hasn’t Quinn been practicing on a regular schedule with the rest of the team, and why are Bears coaches saying he has been on his own program?

Quinn has to learn a new defense and get acclimated to a new team and city, so his first month with the Bears has been a bit baffling. He was not participating when the team began its padded practices, and several weeks into practice, he is still reportedly very limited. On a recent episode of the Halas intrigue podcast, Chicago Sun-Times writers Jason Leisure, Patrick Finley and Mark Potash, who have been present at padded practices over the last week, discussed the situation with Quinn. All three seemed thrown by how little they have seen the team’s highest-paid free agent.

“We don’t even see him doing conditioning work on the side, and you set up Khalil Mack to possibly be in a similar situation as last year where it’s just him,” Leisure said, also noting that Quinn has been participating in some individual drills, but never 11 on 11s, which does seem odd for a player who isn’t injured.

“I think Robert Quinn, at this point, is a red flag,” Potash added. “The fact that he’s a guy who’s transitioning from a 4-3 defensive end to a 3-4 outside linebacker — he just hasn’t been out there. My confidence is not high … it’s a slow start, I’ll tell you that. If I were a Bears fan, I would definitely be concerned.”

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Robert Quinn: Lingering Personal Issue, or Something Else?

Bears head coach Matt Nagy was asked about the situation with Quinn, and this is what he said:

“He had a personal issue that he was dealing with … He dealt with that. And now we’re kind of back to physically just making sure we’re smart in regards to how we handle him as a vet. He’s been playing this game for a long time and we want to just make sure that we do it the right way. That’s just kind of the plan that we’re on right now. It’s nothing for us that’s concerning. We just want to take out time with it.”

OK. But several days later, linebackers coach Ted Monachino said this:

“Where he is right now is Rob’s on his own program a little bit right now. He’s got his own set of requirements that we have to get done with Rob first. He is exactly where he needs to be. He’s had a few things come up. Based on those things we’ve got to continue to bring him along slowly. He is in the ramping-up phase.”

When this ramping-up phase ends is unclear, but Quinn has yet to show he’s ready for the position switch he’ll have to make in less than three weeks when the season starts. He will be moving from a 4-3 defense, which he played in Dallas, to a 3-4. He’ll now presumably be standing up more instead of having his hand in the dirt when rushing the passer, and it would seem all the reps he could get in this new defense with his new teammates would be beneficial, but that just isn’t happening — and the reasoning the Bears are throwing at the situation isn’t making much sense. Why does he have his own set of requirements? What does that even mean?

The Latest on Quinn From Halas Hall: More Question Marks

This is absolutely not to suggest Quinn hasn’t participated in padded practices at all; he has, and he has shown flashes of quickness that could truly make this defense better. It’s possible he could just be starting off deliberately slow and on his own terms because he’s a veteran and one of the more established names on the defense. It’s also possible he’s got a lingering issue, but Nagy and the Bears are being more than a little vague, to the point where clarity is being lost.

The Bears are paying Quinn $15.5 million this year — the fact that he has to learn an entirely new position and defensive scheme and hasn’t been on the field is more than a tad concerning at this point in an already unconventional season. As Potash noted in his recent column: “Quinn’s ‘ramp up’ seems more like a red flag for a player in a new position in a new defense and with a short lead time to the season opener.”

The question marks will remain until either Quinn begins participating in all team drills in full, or until Nagy and company get more upfront and candid about the situation.

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