New York Jets: Quinton Coples – Cancel the Linebacker Experiment Now


Nov 9, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback

Ben Roethlisberger

(7) is sacked by New York Jets outside linebacker

Quinton Coples

(98) and strong safety

Dawan Landry

(26) during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Steelers 20-13. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

It was reported this past week that the New York Jets will exercise their fifth-year option on outside linebacker Quinton Coples.  Coples’ option for 2015 will be about $7.8 million.  Coples, 24, recorded a career-high 6.5 sacks and started 15 games last season while continuing to making the transition from defensive end to linebacker.  The 6’6″ 290 pound Coples has always possessed the necessary size and attributes to contribute on the Jets D-line, but the transition to OLB is something that many under the Rex defensive staff felt would better suit the team’s needs.

Coples’s transition hasn’t been an easy one as there have been spells of inconsistency and ineffectiveness at the position over the past two seasons.  This type of position change isn’t groundbreaking stuff from within the league, as Bills DE Mario Williams made the switch from DE to OLB while with the Houston Texas a few seasons ago and was somewhat effective.  “Somewhat effective” is accurate when describing Williams’s play at OLB with the Texans, which is evident considering the Bills quickly moved him back to defensive end once he signed with them the next season.  There was a reason for that, as Williams has garnered double-digit sacks with the Bills every season he’s been with them since 2012 at the DE position.

It’s hard to really compare his play at DE to that at OLB considering Williams didn’t play an entire season at OLB in Houston after getting injured, but I think the Bills not hesitating to move him back to DE speaks volumes and it falls directly into what I feel should be done regarding Quinton Coples.  This OLB experiment? Yeah… end it. Now.

Coples possesses the skills and attributes that allow his versatility to be a very important asset on a team like the Jets who have one of the more talented D-lines in the league.  Though Coples, like Mario Williams, possess the skills, attributes and ability to play OLB, it doesn’t mean he should.  Coples has made occasional eye-opening plays at the OLB during this period of experimentation, but his play at that position has been far too inconsistent and ineffective for the most part, at least I believe it has been.

Coples is incredibly gifted and talented. His talent seemingly jumps off the screen when you watch film on him, but it  seems to jump out more aggressively when he’s playing on the line at the DE position.  Now granted I know that in Rex’s scheme there was a fine line between Coples’ assignments at OLB and DE. Meaning, Rex’s schemes were so creative and unique that you’d find Coples standing up at OLB on one play and DE at the next. This is what made the Jets D-line so effective. In the end I think it matters considering how effective Coples has been at one position compared to another.  Make no mistakes however, Coples was a different player when primarily on the line at the DE position compared to the OLB position.  In my opinion, he was more consistent and made more impactful plays from the DE position, even if they weren’t sacks.

Lets briefly look at the film —-

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2014 Week 1 vs Raiders – 1st and 10 on the Raiders 41 yard line – 

Coples is here lined up at defensive end as the Jets defense are in a modified 4-3 (something we saw a lot under Rex) that has Coples, Damon Harrison, Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson as the four down linemen.

When the ball is snapped, Coples virtually eliminates Austin Howard who is attempting to pull from the backside by completely running right past him, practically untouched.  This is a combination of poor execution (took a bad angle) by Austin Howard and swift excellent play-making by Coples.  Coples’ physicality is on display here as once he gets his hands on the ball carrier, it’s over almost immediately.

Next: More Coples at Defensive End

 2014 Week 8 vs Bills – 1st and 10 on the Bills 20 yard line – 

Coples here once again finds himself at defensive end as the Jets are utilizing four down linemen and two set linebackers.

Once the ball is snapped, Coples utilizes a great combination of solid footwork and strength as he basically steers his opponent wide only to cut back inside to get the sack on Bills QB Kyle Orton.

2014 Week 2 vs Packers – 1st and 10 on the Packers 33 yard line –

Another 4-2 defense here with Coples on the left end of the line.

The ball is snapped and Coples, utilizing a move and technique that’s befitting a DE that appears to be extremely comfortable in this role, manages to completely neutralize his opponent here and chase down a QB in Aaron Rodgers who is nearly about to escape for what could be a considerable chunk of the 10 yards that is needed for the first down. Excellent move, technique and motor displayed here by Coples.

Next: More Coples at Defensive End

2014 Week 9 vs Chiefs – 3rd and 1 on the Chiefs 28 yard line —-

On this particular play, Coples finds himself on the line at right end.

The ball is snapped here; this is not a particularly flashy play and in fact Charles actually gains the first down, but there are a few things that I noticed from Coples that I like here despite that….

– Ball is snapped, Coples displays immediate tenacity off the line and engages his opponent.

– Utilizing his strength, he gains what appears to be immediate leverage over his opponent and begins to essentially steer him as he keeps his eye on the ball carrier.

– Because of Coples’s immediate push off the line and commitment to fulfill the engagement, the ball carrier is forced off his path and essentially forced to reengaged himself back onto his route.

Why do I like this play even if the Jets defense allowed the first down?

Simple really; Coples here displays pretty much everything you want to see from your defensive end. Coples shows tenacity, strength, great hand placement, commitment to the play, and he is cognizant of everything that the ball carrier is doing.  The play was a success for the opposing offense, but you have to love what you see from a young player in Coples here who has played out of position for the past two seasons.

2014 Week 10 vs Steelers – 2nd and 7 on the Steelers 25 yard line —

Again, we have Coples as a down defensive end here against one of the better offensive lines in the league.

The ball is snapped and Coples immediately becomes cognizant of where the ball is and what needs to be done.  The tackle barely touches Coples as he pulls forward for the dive block down field and Coples takes advantage of it immediately as he tracks the ball carrier down from behind.

On this play he once again displays his quickness and sure handedness as he wraps him up and brings him down – no questions.

2014 Week 15 vs Titans – 1st and 10 on the Jets 22 yard line ——

Here we have Coples line up as end in a creative split gap 4-3 scheme.  It’s essentially designed to create confusion and as you will see on the Gif, it does just that.

The ball is snapped and the play is probably over for the Titans before it even began as Coples is in Whitehurst’s face before he can even finishing dropping back.  Coples uses his speed and manages to dip low enough to render the tackle ineffective as he wraps the QB up and essentially wraps the play up.

What’s not to love on this play from Coples? He completely embarrasses the tackle here and garners a sack in the most impressive way you would want to see your defensive end garner one.

Next: More 2014 Quinton Coples

 2014 – Week 17 vs Dolphins – 1st and 10 on the Dolphins 25 yard line —-

Late in the season we have Coples here vs. a division rival lined up at defensive end.  He’s a part of a three down linemen scheme.

When the ball is snapped what do you see here?

– I see a player that is utilizing his hands to his advantage and his completely winning the matchup from the jump because of his violent hands.

– I see a player utilizing an age old move here as he baits the guard to his right, but quickly spins off to the left. It’s a veteran move, and an excellent move.  Once he spins it’s over for the guard as Coples finishes him off, tosses him away and attacks Tannenhill like a Spider Monkey.

– If I didn’t know of Quinton Coples and I had just seen this play, I would’ve thought I was looking at a defensive end that was arguably one of the best at his position.  That’s how effective he looks on this play.

– Speed, technique and finishing move…. again, tell me what’s not to like on this play from Coples?

2013 – Week 9 vs Saints – 4th and 1 – on the Jets 36 yard line —-

This play is one from the 2013 season.  This one has Coples standing up at what appears to be the OLB position.  Let’s see what happens here……

It’s an easy play for any OLB, but it’s the discipline and awareness that is key here.  Coples is never fooled at any point of this play. Not once.  His eye is locked in on the ball at all times rendering this play DOA.

This is the same discipline that he utilizes while making seemingly the same plays at the defensive end position. This versatility, this awareness, the sure-handedness when it comes to tackling; all of these are essential to Coples becoming not just an effective or solid play on the Jets D-line, but a special player.

Next: Quinton Coples the 'Wildcard'

2013 – Week 9 vs Saints – 4th and 19 – on the Saints 10 yard line —–

Same game from 2013.  This is 4th and 19, in the 4th Quarter. Jets get a stop here and they win the game.  Coples finds himself at the defensive end position in the four down lineman group.

I saved this one for last for a reason.  Coples shows here why I believe he’s a natural pass rushing defensive end.  He finds himself engaged by two Saints players on this play; the RB who tags him on his way out to his route and the tackle who gets his hands on Coples, but both are seemingly no match for Coples’s relentless motor and yes, the spin-move.

Coples’s long arms allows him to snag Brees who is looking to try to escape to his left so he can get a pass off.  Coples wasn’t having any of it as once he got his hands on him it was over. Done.  This sack essentially won the game for the Jets, but it’s one that epitomizes what Coples is on this Jets D-line, the wildcard.

Coples will get 2015 to show the Jets and everyone else that as the wild card, opposing teams will and should have to respect what he does and what he brings.  Again, for argument sake, Coples has this knock of inconsistency surrounding him, whether he plays OLB or DE, I understand this, but in my opinion, he’s been far more effective and consistent at the defensive end position than he has been when he’s designated OLB.

The Bills made the right call when they ended the Houston Texans initiated OLB experiment with Mario Williams.  They understood that his attributes, talents, gifts and skills were best utilized as defensive end, and they were right.  The Jets need to do the same and let Coples flourish solely at the defensive end position, no more tinkering with this kid, let him play where he was born to play.  Just because he’s versatile and has the “tools” and attributes to occasionally play OLB doesn’t mean that’s where he’s most consistently effective, because it isn’t.  “The Wildcard”, that’s what Coples is, let’s see if the Jets play him the right way or lose playing the bad hand.

Want to thank my man Connor Rodgers for help with the Gifs.

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