Quinton Coples: A Statistical Breakdown of Change



The draft selection of Sheldon Richardson raised many eyebrows around the league. He wasn't a scheme fit for the Jets 3-4 defense. On top of this, the Jets had just drafted Quinton Coples the season before. The arrival of Richardson spelled change for Coples. The defensive end who came on strong at the end of the 2012 season would suit up as a linebacker in 2013. Many questioned whether or not this was a smart move, and whether or not Coples would be able to adapt to rushing standing up. In this post I will be using statistical data to break down this season as he made his transition. I will also correlate it back to his rookie campaign in 2012.

Lets first just look at his stats this season as they compared to last season.

2012 / 2013

Games Played: 16/14
Total Tackles: 22/24
Assisted Tackles: 8/14
Sacks: 5.5/4.5
Forced Fumbles: 0/1
Passes Defended: 3/4
Stuffs: 5/8
Stuff Yards: 10/24

in 2 fewer games, Coples produces better stats in all but 1 category. That category was Sacks, where he registered 1 less sack than in the previous season. Many felt that this was going to be Coples season to breakout. He came on strong at the end of his rookie season, and it was hoped he would continue the growth. The casual fan likely felt he suffered a setback this season, as he wasn't the all-pro disrupting force we were hoping for. I believe there is more to the story than that. I am hoping it will show up when the statistics are broken down.

August 17th 2013, Quinton Coples suffers a fracture to his ankle in a preseason contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was listed as being out indefinitely by the Jets official website. He missed the remainder of the preseason and the first two weeks of the regular season. Upon returning it was clear he was still not 100% but wanted to play anyway. Lets breakdown what his stats would look like if he had played the entire season. I will do this by breaking his season totals in each stat down to a "per game" state and then multiplying them over a full 16 game season. This will give us a more clear view of what his stats would look like over a full season.

Games Played: 16/16
Total Tackles: 22/27
Assisted Tackles: 8/16
Sacks: 5.5/5
Forced Fumbles: 0/1
Passes Defended: 3/4.5
Stuffs: 5/9
Stuff Yards: 10/27
* denoted that a per game average of each stat was obtained and added in for the 2 games missed due to injury.

The difference is only slight, but it brings his sack total up to within 1/2 of a sack from his 2012 totals. There is still a deeper story to Coples' season than this. Coples played better the further he got away from his injury and into the season. I will be showing you how his season broke down statistically on a month by month basis below to emphasize this.

Month------------Total Tackles------Assisted------Sacks------Stuff------Stuff Yards
September -----------3-------------------1------------------0------------1---------------1
October ----------------5-------------------4------------------1------------0---------------0

There is a very noticeable increase in his statistics as the season drags on. It becomes more obvious that his injury at the start of the season took a toll on him. Coples also lost out on valuable practice time. As the season drug on, he was able to get more and more practice reps which helped him learn the nuances of his new position. While there is no way to tell exactly when Coples returned to full health, or completely grasped his new position, it is obvious that in November and December he was playing more like a healthy educated player. If he had never suffered the injury, and was able to compete fully in practices, his entire season would likely look more closely like the final two months than the first two. I will now show you what his entire season would have looked like had he played at the level his did in the final 2 months of the season. I will do this by breaking his combined statistics of November and December down into a per game basis, and multiply it over a full 16 game season.

2012 / 2013**
Total Tackles: 22 / 36.5
Assisted Tackles: 8 / 20.5
Sacks: 5.5 / 8
Stuffs: 5 / 13.5
** denotes that a per game average of each stat was obtained from the final half of the season and averaged over the entire season

His statistics look noticeably better now. This looks more like the season we were hoping and expecting out of Coples. Now it can be said that Coples came on strong at the end of his rookie season the same way he came on strong at the end of this season. I've taken the same statistics from the final 2 months of his rookie season and averaged them over the entire season. This will also be used to show growth as I will explain below after the statistics.

2012** / 2013**
Total Tackles: 30 / 36.5
Assisted Tackles: 8 / 20.5
Sacks: 7 / 8
Stuffs: 4 / 13.5
** denotes that a per game average of each stat was obtained from the final half of the season and averaged over the entire season

It is only natural to assume that a rookie who is progressing correctly will get better as the season goes on. That was seen first hand with Coples in 2012. Had he continued to play at the same level that he ended the 2012 season on last year, his statistics would look as they do in the above chart in the 2012 column. If his 2013 statistics matched the 2012 statistics above, it would show that Coples maintained his level of play, and didn't develop at all. However, as you can see from the averaged 2013 statistics after he returned to health, his statistics averaged out higher in every category.

Before my final wrap up, I would like to introduce one more stat. Many felt that Coples was unable to get to the QB as easily from the OLB position, and that the disruptions he brought last season as a pass rusher were lost this season. I believe this to be a myth, and I have a stat to prove it. The stat I am using to show these disruptions is the QB hit. A QB hit is the statistic that lies in between the hurry and the sack. The player hurries the QB but also makes legal contact with the QB as he throws or directly after he throws the ball. This would be equivalent to 1 step slower than a sack and 1 step faster than a hurry. in 2012 Coples recorded 14 QB hits. There were a total of 7 weeks when Coples didn't record a single QB hit. in 2013 Coples recorded 19 hits in 2 fewer games. He also recorded only 2 games where he was not credited with a QB hit. While his sack total dipped slightly in 2013, he was still a statistical disruption in the pocket.

Many have said that it appeared the move to OLB stunted Coples growth. There is no way to tell how quickly he would have progressed had he stayed as a defensive lineman; however, there is proof that Coples did continue to grow. It can be likened to a second coming of his rookie season. His rookie season was spent learning how to play as a defensive lineman at a professional level. In his second year it was like coming into the league again as a rookie. He hadn't played linebacker before, and had to learn to play it at a professional level. It was obvious by the end of the season that he was grasping the new position. It appears that Coples breakout season was pushed back atleast 1 season by the switch to OLB and the injury he suffered in the preseason. I do believe that he will continue to grow and contribute as an OLB. If the statistics are accurate to actual on the field production he continued to grow in his second season. I personally feel he is primed to breakout in his 3rd season.

Edit: I was unable to get the format for the month by month statistic to work like I wanted with tabs or spacing. I apologize for it looking to Schotty

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