By: Will Burchfield
When Glover Quin was asked to describe the difficulty of his diving interception versus Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers on Sunday night, he smiled, looked through the scrum of reporters at his locker and found a friend just a few feet away: photographer Stuart Zaas.
“Stu,” Quin called, “Come here real quick.”
“This one’s funny,” he told the reporters.
Obliging, Zaas made his way into the crowd.
“Every Friday,” said Quin, “what do you do for us at practice?”
Zaas smiled at this tidbit of info he shares with Quin and asked the reporters, “You guys don’t see the pictures?”
The reporters shook their heads. And maybe they kicked themselves, too. Within Zaas’ photo reel on the Lions’ official website is proof that Quin had long been preparing for that moment versus the Steelers. If only the reporters had checked.
Every Friday at practice, Quin does a drill with defensive backs coach Alan Williams in which Williams lofts a ball toward the corner of the end zone and Quin, standing near the pylon, has to keep his feet in bounds and make the catch.
“He throws it kind of out of bounds, so I have to keep my toes in and catch the ball way out here,” said Quin, his arms outstretched.
It’s a drill he and Williams have done for a long time, always on Fridays, only this year Williams upped the degree of difficulty. It began with an accidental overthrow.
“Just one day he had a bad throw and that’s how it was,” Quin said. “It was kind of sweet, so now it seems like he tries to do it like that every time.”
On the first occasion, which resulted in a pretty, toe-tapping catch by Quin, Zaas was there to capture the moment. On the next occasion, too.
“Sometimes it’s too far and I still try to catch it but my feet don’t stay in,” said Quin. “The sweet ones be when I can keep my feet in and he lays it out and I get my Michael Jackson on and Stu be right there snapping the photos.”
Quin, grinning, pulled out his phone.
“I’ll actually show you guys,” he said.
He opened his camera roll and tapped on a picture of his pick versus the Steelers. It was an over-the-shoulder catch, the kind a receiver might make in the corner of the end zone.
“This right here is the picture of the interception,” said Quin. “You see the trajectory?”
Satisfied, he swiped to the next photo, one that Zaas had taken of him working on that drill with Williams. The resemblance was uncanny.
“That’s one Friday,” Quin said, and then began swiping some more. “That’s another Friday, that’s another Friday. You see the trajectory?”
Practice makes perfect. Or, as Jim Caldwell likes to say, in deference to Bo Schembechler, “You achieve what you emphasize.” But Quin’s drill with Williams wasn’t originally designed to emphasize a catch of that difficulty.
“He just happened to throw a couple of them out there that I still caught, and it turned into that because my man Stu captured the moment,” said Quin.
See, when Quin saw the first picture online, he showed it to Williams. Impressed, they decided to change the nature of the drill.
“Stu captured the moment, which allowed me to talk about it with Dub, and so we continued to make those type of throws. If Stu never captured the moment, who knows what might have happened (on Sunday),” said Quin.
Quin’s interception, which was the first of his career against Roethlisberger, was also the result of prescience — something for which he’s always been known. Sensing Roethlisberger was going to target Antonio Brown, who had a mismatch with linebacker Nick Bellore in the slot, Quin shaded toward that area of the field.
Sure enough, Roethlisbeger lofted one up to Brown. Quin arrived first.
“I couldn’t believe Ben threw it,” Quin said with a smile. “But I appreciate it.”
Quin had to leave his feet and fully extend to make the catch — and he was on the move, to boot — but he said it wasn’t any different than his Friday routine with Williams.
“The eyes and the hands are used to being like this,” he said, reenacting the catch. “It’s the same thing. It was actually easier because I didn’t have to keep my feet in.”
(How did Roethlisberger’s throw compare to those Quin sees in practice? “Alan’s throw is real high, Ben’s was more of a line,” Quin said. “They both had good spirals.”)
Hours upon hours of preparation and film study went into Quin’s interception on Sunday. But it’s fair to say Zaas is to thank.
“Yeah,” Quin agreed.
Then he paused and added with a grin, “I mean, I still would have picked it — just wouldn’t have the trajectory of photos.”
Quin, 31, is enjoying one of the best seasons of his career. He has eight passes defended, three interceptions — including a pick-six — and two forced fumbles, not to mention countless plays that fly under the radar. He’s on track to earn the second Pro Bowl selection of his career.
If that happens, Quin said, “Stu gotta come. Personal photo guy.”