Stevens: Glover Quin Is Last Lobo Standing in NFL Playoffs

Jan. 10, 2013

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

As far as Lobos in the NFL playoffs go, Glover Quin is the last Lobo standing.

If you consider the odds of the Houston Texans beating the New England Patriots - the team that spanked the Texans 42-14 in December -- Quin might not be standing much longer.

But we'll see Sunday in Foxborough.

For sure, Quin, who played at UNM from 2006 to 2008, will be a key Texan on defense. The Patriots can pass the ball and quarterback Tom Brady has a host of capable hands including tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.

And the Pats love to isolate their big tight ends on smaller defensive backs. Quin is a 6-foot safety.

It's going to be tough," Quin said. "They're good players, but we have good players, too, so it'll be a good challenge. Hopefully, we'll make more plays than they do."

The Patriots made a lot more plays than did the Texans in that 42-14 rout. Hernandez hauled in two TD passes and had eight grabs helping the Pats go up 21-0. Gronkowski did not play. The "Gronk" is back for Sunday's clash.

The nature of the Pats' offensive sets often has these big tight ends running routes at defensive backs. Quin is one of those defensive backs that Gronkowski and Hernandez plan to dominate with their size. Quin has other ideas.

The Pats' passing package is a bit unusual as they often attack through the air using two tight ends to spread out the defense. What Gronkowski and Hernandez lack in pure speed, they make up for by running precise routs and becoming wide and capable targets for Brady.

"Obviously, they're probably not going to do the same things," said Quin of the anticipated Patriots' attack. "But at the end of the day, when the ball is snapped, you have to execute. Whether you're covering somebody man-to-man or you're playing a certain zone, you just have to execute it."

It's likely the Patriots will have a few new wrinkles to throw at the Texans. It's also probable that they will do a lot of the same things that worked so well earlier in the season.

That means Brady passing to his tight ends and his wide receivers. That means Brady passing.

For sure, Quin will be tested. "Obviously, (Brady) is going to throw the ball," Quin said, "but he's not running any routes, so we just have to do our job and cover our man, and we'll be fine."

Quin and the Patriots would be better off if Brady was running routes. And it's probably not good news that Gronkowski will be running routes at Quin and the Texans.

Gronkowski had 17 touchdowns in 2011 - an NFL record for tight ends. Obviously, a big target with sure hands becomes a viable weapon inside the red zone when speed becomes restrained by a tighter geography. The Gronk is 6-foot-6.

"We feel like we can match up with anybody and we feel like we fly around and hit with anybody, tackle better than anybody," said Quin.. "That's just the way we feel."

"So, when we're playing at the top of our game, we feel like we can be the top secondary unit in the League."

Quin was clearly one of the top defensive backs in the Mountain West when he played for the University of New Mexico. He came to UNM billed as a solid all-around athlete coming out of Southwest Mississippi Community College. He was a four-year letterman in football and basketball in high school, running for 2,522 yards and making 224 tackles.

He was First Team All-Mountain West in his senior year of 2008 and got the attention of NFL scouts both as a pass defender and a sure tackler. Quin was Houston's No. 2 tackler last season with 77. He has 85 - 65 solo and 20 assisted - going into the game at New England. He had 85 tackles in 2010 and 68 in his rookie season of 2009.

At UNM, Quin was voted the Lobos's MVP in 2008. It was the first time that award went to a defender since a linebacker named Brian Urlacher won in 1999. Quinn was the first UNM cornerback to win the award.

Quinn was drafted in the fourth round by Houston in 2009.

ANOTHER UNM CONNECTION: Texas linebacker Brooks Reed, older brother of UNM tight end Lucas Reed, played with Gronkowski at Arizona. "It'll be fun going up against the Gronk," said Reed. "He's a big challenge. He challenges the field vertically, and you have to have a big body on him downfield because he just reaches up top and over safeties. He's tough to cover."