With the NFL’s trade deadline fast approaching, teams are making moves to position themselves for a run to the playoffs, or begin the process of rebuilding. Last week we saw the Carolina Panthers trade running back Christian McCaffrey to the San Francisco 49ers, and the most recent move finds Howie Roseman and the Philadelphia Eagles pushing a few more chips into the middle of the table that is the NFL, as the Eagles have traded for Robert Quinn.
Quinn, the Chicago Bears veteran pass rusher, posted a whopping 18 sacks a season ago, the second-best mark of his career and his best number since back in 2013, when he recorded 19 sacks for the Los Angeles Rams. Through seven games, however the production has not quite been there for Quinn this season. He has just a single sack on the year, recorded back in Week 2 in Chicago’s loss to the Green Bay Packers.
Still, when you add in some context, this is a huge move for the Eagles.
In Philadelphia, he joins one of the better defensive fronts in the NFL. The Eagles have 64 pressures this season, tenth-most in the league, but they have played just six games, while all the teams ahead of them have played seven. Philadelphia has also pressured the opposing passer on 25.2% of the dropbacks this season, seventh-most in the league. With Haason Reddick, Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat coming off the edges, and Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave working on the interior, the Eagles already have an imposing defensive front.
Why has Quinn’s production dipped this season? Consider this:
Double team rate at Edge (x) by pass rush win rate at Edge (y).— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) October 26, 2022
-Potential trade candidate Bradley Chubb having a great year.
-Sacks have been there for Brian Burns, but win rate is a career-low.
-Brandon Graham would be No. 2 in Edge PRWR if he qualified. pic.twitter.com/GiMasHPdhw
This graph, courtesy of ESPN’s Seth Walder, highlights both the Pass Rush Win Rate (PRWR) as well as Double Team Rate (DTR) for edge rushers this season. As you can see, few defenders have been double-teamed more than Quinn, who has seen 58 double-teams this year according to charting data. While some of those are indeed running plays, some are not.
Like this snap against the Minnesota Vikings, where Quinn gets a double-team from the left tackle and the left guard on the backside of a boot-action concept:
Or this play from the game against Minnesota, where the tight end chips Quinn before releasing to the flat, giving the left tackle some help on the edge defender:
Then there is this play against the Green Bay Packers, which serves as the perfect jumping-off point for examining what Quinn will bring to Philadelphia. The Packers slide their protection towards Quinn, and with the Bears bringing just four on this 1st and 20, that results in the left guard helping the left tackle on Quinn.
But it also creates a trio of one-on-one for the rest of the Chicago pass rush, and the Bears get to Aaron Rodgers as a result:
Because now we can picture Quinn in the middle of this Eagles defensive front. Put yourself in the shoes of an opposing offensive coordinator. Sure, you can still slide protection towards Quinn, or double-team him in protection schemes, but the result will likely be some one-on-one matchups for the other pass rushers. One-on-ones for Sweat, and Graham, and Reddick.
That might not be the best idea. Returning to Pass Rush Win Rate for a moment, Sweat currently sits fourth in the league, behind only Micah Parsons, Myles Garrett and Bradley Chubb, in that statistic from ESPN:
If this acquisition means more one-on-ones for the rest of the Eagles’ pass rushers, including Sweat, that is a huge thing for Philadelphia.
But it could also mean more one-on-one opportunities for Quinn.
Remember, he is coming off an 18-sack season a year ago, and he still has some juice off the edge. But do not take that from me, take that from Brandon Thorn, one of the premier experts on trench play:
Quinn has one sack this season but watching on film the elite bend is still there. On this DL he will have a chance to be a high impact rusher. Wild how proactive the Eagles are about fortifying the trenches..— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) October 26, 2022
For example, watch as Quinn blows past left tackle Trent Brown with an impressive dip-and-rip move, before turning the corner to get to Mac Jones from the first quarter Monday night:
Here is another example of Quinn using this combination against the Washington Commanders, forcing Carson Wentz off the spot after getting past the left tackle and turning the corner:
Finally, for good measure, we can look at that sack of Rodgers from back in Week 2. Stop me if you have seen something like this before:
Once again, we see Quinn bursting past a left tackle, cornering around the edge and getting to the quarterback.
In Philadelphia, Quinn gets to join an already imposing defensive front, and will create some headaches for opposing offensive coordinators. Perhaps he continues to see double-team blocks at the same rate, which will simply create more one-on-one opportunities for one of the league’s best fronts at pressuring the passer. If so, this is a worthwhile move for the Eagles, as it doubles-down on a strength.
Or, maybe Quinn himself gets some more one-on-one opportunities, as opposing offensive coordinators slide protection schemes towards Sweat or Reddick and away from Quinn, or they use the backs and tight ends to chip those two. The result? One-on-one chances for Quinn, and as we have seen, he remains a dangerous presence off the edge in those moments.
Either way, this is a huge boost for the Eagles’ pass rush.
Which was already darn good.