Under New Head Coach, Quin's Remarkable Start Streak In Jeopardy

It likely won't end the way Quin had hoped.

Will Burchfield
September 14, 2018 - 8:48 am

© Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

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Since joining the Lions in 2013, Glover Quin has played in every single game. And he's started every single one. His start streak, which dates back to his 2009 rookie season, is now 133 games long, tops among active safeties. And no one else is close. 

The Raiders' Reggie Nelson, who ranks second, is at 77 games. 

Nelson may soon rank first. 

After playing every defensive snap in 67 of his first 80 games with the Lions, Quin saw his playing time reduced significantly in his first game under Matt Patricia. He was on the field for just 40 of 60 snaps, while fellow safeties Quandre Diggs and Tavon Wilson logged 58 and 47 snaps, respectively. 

It's a new role for Quin, one he's still adjusting to. While he prepares in the same diligent manner, the 10-year vet acknowledged he's not yet sure how to stay mentally engaged when he's on the sideline. And this is coming from one of the most cerebral players in the game. 

"You just have to figure it out, man," he said. "I don’t know." 

He said he wasn't "necessarily" surprised by his reduced role in the season-opener, but wouldn't comment on why he was used, in essence, as a part-time player. 

"You’ll have to ask Coach Patricia," said Quin. 

How about it, Coach Patricia?

“I don’t think anybody’s a part-time player," Patricia said. "Everybody that’s active has to play in the game. That’s how we approach it. I think moving forward for us, we’re always just going to try to do whatever we have to do to win. And he’s certainly part of that."

The start streak is a point of pride for Quin. How could it not be? In a sport with a sky-high attrition rate, Quin has been available to his team every Sunday for the past nine years. He's played through some "excruciating" pain along the way, including a dislocated elbow and torn ligaments in his ankle. Heck, Quin played on a broken ankle in high school and with a broken arm in junior college. 

“I was just a guy that always wanted to play," Quin said at this time last year. "Anytime I had something that was halfway injured I would just always play through it. I’m not saying that stuff doesn’t hurt — it hurts, don’t get me wrong. But mentally I can figure out a way to deal with the pain.”

Quin said he's not sure whether his role moving forward will be the same as it was on Monday. If it is, it's only a matter of time before that ironman streak comes to an end. Impressive and distinguished though it may be, Patricia doesn't sound like he'll let it affect his decisions as a coach.   

"Glover is an outstanding football player, outstanding professional, a guy that really approaches everything every single day with a great manner," said Patricia. "He works extremely hard, is very smart. We try to do everything we can to keep everybody in a good position to make plays.

"I don’t really keep track of streaks or things like that. I just try to get everybody out there to play. He’s certainly one of our key guys that needs to play and he’s included in all the packages that we run. We’re just trying to do the best we can to go out on defense and stop whatever the offense is doing.”

For Quin, that's probably fine. He's not a player who wants to be catered to. When Eli Manning declined the Giants' offer to play the first half of a game last season just to protect his start streak, which at the time ranked first among active players, Quin said he would have done the same thing.

"That's nonsense," Quin said. "You're going to start me for the first series and then take me out just so I can say I started?"

"Don't just give it to me because I've been doing it for a long time," he added. 

Manning quickly regained his starting role after the Giants' brief experiment with Geno Smith. He was always the best man for the job. It's less clear if that's the case with Quin. 

He skipped his team's offseason program for the first time in his career this summer to spend more time with his family. (Not that there's a darn thing wrong with that.) Then he looked a step slow in the preseason. On Monday night, he took an uncharacteristically poor angle on Isaiah Crowell's 62-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and was burned by the Jets running back down the sideline. 

The 32-year-old looked his age. 

Quin hasn't been on the sidelines to start a game since Dec. 6, 2009. Think about that. Specifically, think about how much has changed in football -- heck, in the world -- since then. Through it all, Quin has remained a constant. 

Inevitably that streak will end. And it may end soon. Perhaps on Sunday in San Francisco, maybe some time later this season. Either way, it's on its last legs. 

Quin said last year he'd like for the streak to be snapped either because he'd retired or his team had clinched a playoff spot and he'd been given a game off. It may not end on his terms, but that shouldn't diminish just how impressive it's been.