Quinton Coples was the New York Jets’ first round pick in 2012, and he recorded 5.5 sacks in his rookie season while playing as a defensive end in Rex Ryan’s attacking 3-4 defense. However, the Jets moved Coples to outside linebacker this season, and he has been slow to adjust. A fractured ankle in the preseason that kept him out for the first two regular season games certainly didn’t help, and Coples is still learning his new position.
However, it appears that Coples may be ready to make an impact for the Jets in the second half of the season. He had a sack and a forced fumble in the Jets’ Week 7 win over the New England Patriots, and he played his best game of the season Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. Coples was part of a defensive front that harassed Drew Brees all game, and he recorded three QB hits, a pass deflection and a huge stop on a fourth down run.
That game may not have had the most impressive box score line, but it was the first time this season that Coples had a consistent and significant influence on the game. The Jets were hoping that Coples could become their premier pass rushing threat this season, but that hasn’t really materialized thus far.
The Jets’ defensive line of Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison is arguably the best in the NFL, and they have the ability to make life easy for their outside linebackers. Veteran Calvin Pace has taken advantage this season with five sacks, and Coples may be ready to follow suit. The Jets need their defense to be dominant as they try to make the playoffs, and adding a consistent pass rushing threat on the edge would be huge.
Coples has the talent to be that player, even if the adjustment to outside linebacker has been slow. However, his play over the last three weeks has shown that he could be ready to take a big step forward and become an impact pass rusher. If he does, the Jets’ defense will be very dangerous in the second half of the season.