Adjusting From the Defensive Line to Outside Linebacker:
Quinton Coples has embraced the opportunity to switch from defensive line to outside linebacker. He has taken a larger role in the Jet’s defense and has become a key pass rusher.
Coples becoming an elite pass rusher is going to be very important to the Jets defense. Rushing Coples on the edge will create pressure for the quarterback to move along the defense line. While this is happening, this helps the secondary out by not giving the quarterback the ability to fully view the field.
If the Jets was able to have a pass rusher off both sides of the defense, this would force the quarterback to move to the teeth of defense, creating more sacks and big plays for the defensive line, as well helping a young secondary.
Coples did his job last year, leading the Jets in quarterback hurry ups and repeatedly giving opportunities for the defensive line in 2013. Coples performed well at his new position as an outside linebacker playing 14 games (13 started) with 38 tackles, a forced fumble, 3 passes defended, and 4.5 sacks.
What is a Linebacker that is also an Edge Pass Rusher?
One of the key element of the Jets defense is the role of the edge pass rushing linebacker. The Jets defense’s scheme involves multiple fronts, formations and blitz packages. In order to complete the scheme, you need to set the edge by using the linebacker. The value of the edge pass rusher is that it sets up both the defensive line and secondary to make a big impact. On passing plays, they disrupt the quarterback and force him out his pocket by pressure.
Coples’ Success Depends On Staying Healthy:
At the start of 2013, Coples suffered a preseason ankle fracture injury that forced him to miss the first two games of the season. The injury left him playing at less than 100% for several more weeks of the season. When the hurt ankle lingered, it kept his sacks down early. However, he rebounded to help the Jets with hurry-ups on the opposing signal-callers in the latter half of the year.
In the Jets home game against the Patriots, Coples helped turn the game around. The Jets needed a spark and Coples had a strip sack and forced an interception on back-to-back plays. The strip sack was recovered by the Patriots, but on the next play, Coples forced Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to throw a pick-six.
Coples seemed to get healthier at the end of the season. In his last three games, Coples had 3 sacks, 11 tackles and 2 passes deflected. He has been able to consistently get pressure on the quarterback, and he has been very good against the run. This is the type of play the Jets can expect from Coples when healthy.
Coples Set to Have a Breakout Year:
Coples needs to go into the 2014 season healthy and ready to go. If Antwan Barnes and Coples are rushing from the edge, that will dismantle opposing teams’ offensive schemes. Both linebackers can race to the quarterback. The Jets also drafted a few pass rushers, and if they can make the cut, the Jets can keep the linebackers fresh. That alone would help keep Coples energized on the field, and we could see a further increase in his production and impact.