According to Jake Steinberg:
The #Jets have moved Quinton Coples to OLB.— Jake Steinberg (@Steiny31) May 1, 2013
DL Coach Karl Dunbar stated via Twitter that the team would remain in the 3-4 defense but would occasionally be moving Coples to the "rush" linebacker position, which is presumably where Steinberg got his information. Dunbar said that he would remain Coples' position coach and indicated that it is not a full time thing.
What does this mean for the New York Jets? First, that Sheldon Richardson is going to see significant time on the defensive line. Second, that certain situations, Coples will stand up rather than put his hand in the dirt when rushing the passer, as is the job of the "rush" linebacker. Here's an explanation of the position:
Rush linebacker is the position on a 3-4 defense that is most normally responsible for rushing the passer, hence its name. The rush linebacker lines up fairly close to the line of scrimmage, but not on the line of scrimmage, and also far more to the outside than a defensive end, about halfway between the 4-3 defensive end position and the nickelback position. They play standing up, meaning they do not start the play with their hand on the line of scrimmage. They aren’t required to do as much physical run stuffing as 3-4 defensive ends, but they are required to drop back into coverage a lot more. Part of the mystique of the 3-4 defense is the rush linebacker position because offensive players and coordinators simply don’t know if a rush linebacker is going to rush the quarterback or drop back into coverage. Based off that description, the position seems like an ideal position for those smaller college defensive ends that would struggle in the trenches in the NFL. Those smaller ends normally have the fluid athleticism needed to drop back into coverage and the speed to cover and also a set of smooth pass rushing moves to penetrate the backfield from an outside position.
What this will effectively do is give the team more options than just having Coples stick his hand in the dirt every single down. There is more flexibility in what Coples will be asked to do, which time will tell if good or bad. There is no indication that this is all he'll do, but will be in addition to and complementary to what he already does for the team. What's puzzling is why the team would move Coples when he showed he was getting so much better by the end of the season at his existing position. I suppose this is one decision I'll have to have faith with Rex Ryan.