Entering his fourth season as New York Jets head coach, Rex Ryan has made a conscious effort to tone down the brashness here in 2012.
While he’s still the same guy that his players love, a more stern and focused Ryan has emerged as well. No more Super Bowl guarantees, far fewer headline fodder quotes.
However, he’s still Rex Ryan. Forgive him if he gets carried away with optimism about his football team on occasion.
Coples had a sack, a pass deflection, a forced fumble and two tackles for loss against the Bengals, with five total tackles in 39 snaps among multiple defensive fronts against first, second and third-string players.
After that impressive performance, Ryan couldn’t help but smile, and also take a dig at some of the naysayers who warned that Coples was a draft bust waiting to happen.
“I’m sure it’s a bust pick,” Ryan said, tongue firmly in cheek. “We’ll find out.”
This week, the Jets play their annual preseason game against the New York Giants, this year in preseason week 2 rather than the customary week 3 game.
With the defending Super Bowl champs in town this weekend, Rex Ryan couldn’t help but notice the similar physical makeup of Quinton Coples and the Giants’ young Pro Bowl defensive lineman, Jason Pierre-Paul.
“If you look at the measurable when Pierre-Paul came out and Quinton Coples, the measurable are almost identical,” Ryan said. “Except Quinton’s an inch taller and 20 pounds heavier.”
Ryan acknowledged that the two players are not exactly carbon copies of each other, but there’s enough similarities between them that are making Rex hopeful that “Q” can be the Jets’ answer to “JPP.”
“Pierre-Paul’s got those arms that reach for days,” said Ryan. “He’s got the longest arms I think I’ve ever seen on a guy. They’re two unusual talents… Hopefully Quinton can be the same kind of player Pierre-Paul ended up being.”
The 23-year-old Pierre-Paul was a first-team All-Pro in 2011, his second NFL season. He had 16.5 sacks and 86 total tackles last season, and it goes without saying that any team would sign up for that in a second.
However, the 22-year-old Coples has much to learn and even more to prove before he can be considered one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL. He’s still a rookie who’s yet to take a (real) NFL snap, after all.
Now, it’s the responsibility of Rex Ryan and his coaching staff to make sure they can tap into that enormous potential that they believe Coples has, and get the most out of those impressive measurable attributes he has.
With Coples and Pierre-Paul on the same field this weekend, we’ll see how similar they really are.
It certainly would be nice for the Jets to have a player in the fold putting up a double-digit sack season, something they haven’t had since John Abraham had 10.5 sacks in 2005.
Rex Ryan hoped that Quinton Coples could be that guy when the Jets drafted him this past April. Now, Coples has a chance to back up his coach’s confidence and prove his doubters wrong.