There were many questions raised when the New York Jets selected Quinton Coples with the 16th overall pick in the 2012 draft, as he didn’t appear to fit the mold of the 3-4 pass rusher the Jets so desperately needed. He recorded 5.5 sacks as a defensive end last season, but this year the Jets chose to move him to outside linebacker with the hopes of him becoming the team’s premier pass rusher.
Unfortunately, a preseason ankle fracture forced Coples to miss the first two games of the season and left him restricted for several more weeks. He didn’t record his first sack until Week 7, and then he went four more games without a sack. However, it appears Coples has saved his best last, and he is ending the season on a tear. In his last three games, Coples has 3 sacks, 5 QB hits, 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 were expecting from Coples entering this season, and now they are being rewarded for their patience with the young linebacker. Coples’ development was held back by the challenge of learning a new position and overcoming his fractured ankle, but he is now healthy and comfortable with his role in the Jets’ defense. Coples is a key part of the Jets young, elite front seven, and the Jets have to be thrilled that he is finally developing into a quality pass rusher.
If Coples can continue to grow and improve over the final two weeks, it will give him a lot of confidence heading into next season. The third year is when many NFL players have their breakout season, and the Jets will be expecting that from Coples. They still do not have an edge rusher that opposing offenses really fear, but the last three weeks are a strong indication Coples can become that player.