The Chicago Bears have dealt with some tough health issues already this season. Andy Dalton injured his knee during the second game of the year. David Montgomery did the same a couple of weeks later. Germain Ifedi is out with a knee issue too. Akiem Hicks is dealing with a groin problem and now Bilal Nichols might have a knee injury too. Yet the loss that might be felt the most at this moment is Robert Quinn.
The veteran pass rusher is in the midst of a major rebound year. After posting just two sacks in 2020, he already has 5.5 through the first six games in 2021. He’s arguably been their best player this season. Now the Bears face the prospect of not having him right when he’s needed the most. News dropped this week that Quinn landed on the Reserve/COVID list after testing positive. This puts his status for Sunday against the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in doubt.
Facing Tom Brady without two of your three best pass rushers?
Not ideal. However, all may not be lost quite yet. While Damien Williams remains out with COVID as well, his situation is different. The veteran running back is not vaccinated. According to Adam Hoge of NBC Sports Chicago, the same is not true with Quinn. He is indeed vaccinated. Under league rules, all he has to do is test negative twice within a 24-hour period in order to get the green light to play.
“Now, Robert Quinn — one of the few very positive stories to come out of the first third of the season — is also on the COVID-19 reserve list.
There’s not much Nagy can do about that, but he certainly doesn’t need to be losing key players to COVID with Tom Brady and the Bucs on deck in Tampa on Sunday. Quinn is fully vaccinated, according to multiple sources, so perhaps there’s a glimmer of hope he can return by Sunday.”
The odds are the Bears will know for sure by Saturday at the latest. There hasn’t been any further confirmation on the positive test Quinn had. So the team might be waiting to see if things clear up in time for the game. Having him ready to go would be a huge relief for a defense that will already be shorthanded with Hicks likely out.
What a start to the year by Robert Quinn. There's very few more talented, skilled, or enjoyable edge-rushers to study when they're 'on' than him. Excellent explosiveness, hands to soften the edge, and still bends like Gumby around the corner. pic.twitter.com/gF8OLRsn1Z
— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) October 21, 2021
Good Lord, Robert Quinn pic.twitter.com/tIuK1uu3ik
— Robert Schmitz (@robertkschmitz) October 20, 2021
Robert Quinn is crucial to slowing the Brady buzzsaw
The 44-year old quarterback is having one of the best seasons of his career. Incredible to think about. When watching the Buccaneers though? It’s not surprising. That team is loaded with talent and one of the big reasons Brady is functioning so well is their offensive line. Through six games, he has only been sacked nine times. Everybody knows the story at this point. If you don’t get to Brady? You lose.
The Bears know this. It’s a big reason they upset the Buccaneers last season at Soldier Field. In that wild primetime clash, they sacked him three times and pressured him 20 times in total. He was uncomfortable for much of the evening. That was with Robert Quinn in his hobbled state at the time. It’s interesting to wonder what might happen with him and Khalil Mack going after Brady healthy.
For that to happen, they need that vaccination to deliver.
The team will know definitively one way or the other on Saturday. If Quinn can go? The Bears may have a chance to hang tough with Tampa Bay. If not? Most are predicting the game to get out of hand early. It’s hard to fault them. Chicago relies on its defense to carry the load and now it’s depleted.