Quinton Coples and Chandler Jones play substantially different positions, defensive end vs. outside linebacker (although Jones does play defensive end in a 4-3 scheme on occasion), but there was some controversy as to which defensive stud the New York Jets should have drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Let's play a little revisionist history and take a look back on their respective stats, as we near the end of their rookie seasons:
- Games Played: 15
- Tackles: 28
- Sacks: 5.5
- Forced Fumbles: 0
- Passes Defended: 2
- Stuffs: 5
- Snaps: 556 total snaps, 483 defensive snaps, 73 special teams snaps
- Games Played: 13
- Tackles: 38
- Sacks: 6
- Forced Fumbles: 3
- Passes Defended: 3
- Stuffs: 3
- Snaps: 737 total snaps, 683 defensive snaps, 54 special teams snaps
As the statistics plainly show, Jones has been the more productive player this season. However, as we dig deeper, we can see that Coples is more productive on a per snap basis than Jones is. Consider the fact that Jones has been a starter since the beginning of the season, and despite being injured lately, has two hundred more snaps than Coples. Yet, Coples is nearly just as productive. In addition, Jones has been slowing down since he took the league by storm in the beginning of the season; he hasn't had a sack in two months, since the New England Patriots beat the St. Louis Rams on October 28th. In contrast, Coples has been heating up as the season progresses, accruing 3.5 sacks in the past three games.
The fundamental thing to remember, however, is that they play wildly different positions. Jones is primarily an outside linebacker. He is in a stable defense and plays the same role week-in-and-week-out. Coples plays in a completely different scheme as a defensive end, rushing the passer primarily from an interior position on the defensive line. The defense Coples is in changes weekly, and he is generally facing more double-teams than Jones is as he rushes the passer. All this, in my mind, makes the fact that their stats are nearly identical more astounding. Not only is Coples playing significantly less than Jones, he's doing it in a scheme significantly harder to master, from a position that makes it extremely difficult to rush the passer, as an interior 3-4 defensive lineman.
This is all interesting because of the conflicting reports as to which player Rex Ryan truly wanted. Some reports indicated Coples, others Jones, and even others brought Bruce Irvin into the mix. We'll never know who he truly wanted, except that Rex now says Coples is who they had in mind the entire time. In my opinion, that is the case. Rex personally worked out Coples before the draft to a degree that he never approached with Jones or Irvin. There's zero reason to believe any other scenario was the case.
All of this goes to show that I am glad the Jets selected Coples over Jones. That isn't to say I wouldn't have been happy with Jones, because he would have clearly satisfied a need we have at outside linebacker. But nearly one season in, it seems to me so far that the Jets made the right choice on draft day.