ALLEN PARK, Mich. – Glover Quin broke out last season, his second with the Detroit Lions. He played in one of the top defenses in the NFL and was half of one of the best safety tandems in the league with James Ihedigbo.
Quin, who railed against Pro Bowl voting during the 2014 season, ended up making his first Pro Bowl team. Yet when the Lions safety and leader of the defense looks back at last season, he sees the plays he didn’t make as much as the ones he did.
It helps shape what he expects out of 2015.
“I look at a year and look at the plays that I made and think about, some of those plays I should make every time. Some of those plays were tough plays,” Quin told ESPN.com. “Will I get those opportunities this year? I don’t know. If I do, I hope I can capitalize on those plays again, but then also look at it as, you know what, I had this many plays.
“But I can think of three or four that I left out there. So I always feel like I can always get better. I just can’t get worse. I can’t miss some of those plays that come to me, but some of the other ones, I have to be sure I make those.”
This comes after a season where he led the NFL in interceptions with seven, almost doubling his career total entering the 2014 season. He also had 73 tackles and graded out by Pro Football Focus as the No. 3 safety in the NFL behind San Diego’s Eric Weddle and Minnesota’s Harrison Smith.
One of his biggest plays came against the Vikings in October. Minnesota drove down the field on the Vikings’ first drive of the game. Quin halted the drive in the end zone when he intercepted Teddy Bridgewater. It turned into Detroit’s best defensive game of the season, holding the Vikings to three points on the road.
Quin believes that interception changed momentum. So when he reviewed his season, two games stood out as opportunities lost. One would have been a personal feat. The other was another potential momentum-changer.
It also gives insight to how photographic memories are for some players about some plays -- particularly ones they did not make.
“The Tampa game, I should have had three interceptions in that game. No, seriously,” Quin said. “I caught one. The interception that [Ihedigbo] caught in the end zone, I tipped that one right off my fingertips. And there’s another one that Ashlee Palmer dove back against Mike Evans that I was running through for the pick and he dove and tipped it.
“The one that gnaws at me the most is the Carolina game. Week 2, on the road against Carolina. Greg Olsen runs a skinny post on the backside and [Darius] Slay makes a great play and breaks up the ball, but when he broke the ball up, it went low so as I’m sliding trying to catch it, it bounces off my shoulder pad.
“I’m thinking, we lost that game, but if I could have caught that one early in the game, it probably could have changed the momentum.”
Quin’s goal is to have more opportunities like that this season – and to convert on more of them than he did a season ago.