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Quinton Coples: What's Missing?

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets have two terrific young defensive linemen in Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson. Wilkerson was a first round pick in 2011. Richardson was in 2013. In 2012 the Jets took a third defensive lineman, Quinton Coples. While Wilkerson and Richardson are the foundation of the team heading forward, Coples has yet to reach the same heights in his three NFL seasons.

There is a certain irony watching Coples play. This is because his most frustrating plays are the ones where he shows the potential that made the Jets invest a first rounder in him. Here and there he covers an incredible amount of ground in short order and looks like he can be a big time playmaker for this football team.



When you see flashes from a player who was picked in the first round, it is frustrating to see such a lack of production. Coples only has 17 tackles and 2.5 sacks on the season. He only has more than 2 tackles in a pair of games. If you are looking for a good sign, they both have been in the last two games the Jets have played.

At any rate, this has been a less than stellar year for Coples.

I get the impression one of the big reasons Coples isn't making a big impact is his usage. It seems like the defensive coaching staff sees the type of impact plays he is capable of making. One thing in particular the Jets have fallen into the pattern of doing is sticking him out wide lined up across from wide receivers.

Coples has played 38 coverage snaps already this season against just 26 in all of last year.

It is a unique little idea. The cornerback situation isn't great so have this big athletic guy go out and jam a receiver. It hasn't really worked, though. I don't think Coples has been particularly effective throwing jams.

Now the Jets are only using him this way pretty infrequently, but he is playing coverage around triple the rate he did last year. I think this is emblematic of one of the problems. The Jets seem enthralled with the idea of having an athlete like this and thinking of all of the potential ways to use him.

Rex Ryan did something similar with Adalius Thomas in Baltimore. He moved Thomas all over the place. They seem to be doing the same with Coples. Lining up at corner is the most extreme case, but he lines up all over the place, all over the field, in all different stances.

Ultimately the Rex Ryan defense wants versatile players. I can't help but wonder whether Coples might be better off in a defense with a more simplified role where he can use his ability to just get up the field.