CHICAGO – It took Robert Quinn all of one snap.
The Bears outside linebacker was off the field for the first two defensive snaps Sunday against the New York Giants at Soldier Field. He subbed in on third down, and made his way to the quarterback with ease.
Quinn strip-sacked Giants quarterback Daniel Jones. Khalil Mack recovered the fumble, setting up the Bears with ideal field position. Thus began the era of the Quinn-Mack outside linebacker monster.
“Blazing good,” Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks said of Quinn. “I mean, he took off the line and got a sack on the first third down, the first series of the game. A talent like his isn’t to be taken lightly in this league. He’s somebody that can come off the edge with such ferocity and speed.”
The Bears rewarded Quinn with a five-year, $70 million contract over the offseason. General manager Ryan Pace must’ve been drooling at the thought of a Quinn-Mack tandem at outside linebacker.
He didn’t have to wait long to see it Sunday.
Quinn’s debut came after he missed the Week 1 contest against the Detroit Lions due to an ankle injury. He returned to practice this week and was a full participant Friday, the final practice prior to game day.
Quinn's first play set the tone for the Bears defense. While it was far from a perfect game, defensively, it was another “bend don’t break” performance from the vaunted Bears D.
“For them to keep [Detroit] where they were with 13 total points in this game and getting those turnovers and then playing pretty well this game, I thought you’ve got to be pretty happy with that,” head coach Matt Nagy said. “I’m happy with them. We can always be better. Our guys always expect a lot.”
The Bears allowed 295 yards of total offense, which was an improvement from the 426 yards the defense surrendered in Detroit a week earlier. The Giants couldn’t create anything in the run game after running back Saquon Barkley went down with an injury.
Bears defensive back Deon Bush had an interception in the second quarter that stopped a Giants drive at the Bears’ 29-yard-line. Safety Eddie Jackson thought he had an interception in the second half – which he ran back for a touchdown – but it was called back for defensive pass interference.
The Giants’ near comeback was as much a factor of the Bears’ offensive struggles as it was any defensive struggles. The Giants scored on just one of their three red zone trips Sunday. The Bears held them to 3-for-13 on third down.
“We like that pressure on us as a defense,” Bush said. “We’ve gotta rise to it if we’re going to be a top defense in this league.”
The Giants scored 13 unanswered points in the second half, and gave themselves a chance to win the game on the final play. With four seconds remaining, Jones tossed a pass intended for receiver Golden Tate. Jackson stepped in to break up the play.
A penalty flag on the play caused a scare, but ended up going for offensive pass interference.
“I’ll say this: it was a nervous moment, not sure how the penalty was going to go,” Hicks said. “But relieved to see we got one towards our side.”
And the Bears escaped, again. After a 17-point comeback in Week 1, they nearly blew a 17-point lead in Week 2.
They didn’t, and they are 2-0. But Nagy sees a lot to improve upon.
“I would say we’re just OK right now,” Nagy said. “I think we expect a little better. But I’m not criticizing our players and our coaches. That’s a part of being in the second week with no preseason. So, we have high expectations. And we want to be better.”
That goes for the defense, too. Hicks said the defense will be careful not to get ahead of itself. A 2-0 record is a 2-0 record, but it’s not time to celebrate yet.
“There’s bumps in the road during the course of the game, and you’ve got to be able to pick yourself back up and keep fighting,” Hicks said. “And then, each game is a smaller season. When you look at the whole season, there’s going to be times in November and December where you say, ‘Man, I gotta really improve on that.’ And what do you do? You go and work on it and try to come out the next week and play better.”
The Bears defense did that from Week 1 to Week 2.