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Quinton Coples Adjusts to Life at Linebacker


Seth Walder has a story about Quinton Coples adjusting to life as an outside linebacker and about life dropping into coverage.

“Dustin Keller? I wouldn’t let him get off the line,” Coples said. “That’s the best way to cover, ain’t it?”

But Coples didn’t stop with his former teammate, who is now on the Dolphins. He even said he has a plan to stop the Patriots’ Gronkowski, who has lit up the league for 38 TDs in his first three seasons.

“Yeah. Just don’t let him get off the line,” said Coples, before admitting that with Gronk, “I won’t just be one-on-one with him, I’ll have help.”

The Jets are just going to have to live with Coples in coverage and in space. There are probably going to be points where it will not look pretty since he does not seem to move particularly smoothly. The hope is he can use his size to jam the tight end, clog passing lanes, and redirect ball carriers.

What will be more important is how Coples responds to life rushing off the edge. He will be spending most of his time as a pass rusher. The top outside linebackers like Aldon Smith spend minimal time in coverage. When it happens, it is usually done just to show the offense a different look.

Coples has looked great going one on one in the interior. We will find out whether he can translate that to rushing standing up. To be sure, he will be moved all over the place. The Jets operate out of many different fronts and ask their players to wear many different hats. Every indication from the team and the player, though, indicates his primary duty will be at linebacker. If he can make the transition, Coples has the potential to be a game-changing type of defensive player. The defense will have a much higher ceiling. If he cannot, it could be a long season, and this experiment might lead to Rex Ryan losing his job.