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NY Jets Friday Spotlight

The first in a weekly series spotlighting one key Jets player for the game.

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the inaugural edition of what I hope will become a weekly feature here at GGN, the Friday Spotlight.  Here we will spotlight one key player for each game of the season, hopefully putting a different player in the spotlight each week.  Today's player in the spotlight is Quinton Coples.

Coples was drafted by the Jets in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft.  He was seen as a physically gifted pass rusher with a questionable motor coming out of college.  Little he has done since has changed the questionable motor perception.  His physical gifts are also apparent; however, he is arguably miscast as an edge rusher in the Jets' defensive scheme.

Coples began his Jets career as a defensive lineman who primarily exerted pressure as an inside pass rusher.  In 2013 however Coples was switched to outside linebacker to make room for wunderkind Sheldon Richardson, and Coples' game has arguably suffered from the switch.  He has looked a little misplaced on the edge.  He does not appear to have the first step and quick burst to consistently beat offensive tackles with a speed rush, the bread and butter of most outside linebackers' pass rushing success.  Instead Coples has found much of his success, even at outside linebacker, with inside rushing techniques, which leave the edge vulnerable.  When he has tried to win outside, he has usually been stonewalled by opposing offensive tackles.

Here are Coples' statistics for the first two years of his career.  As you can see his productivity has been less than most would expect from a first round draft pick.






Forced Fumbles

Passes Defended















Now in his third year with the Jets and his second year at outside linebacker, it is time to see if Coples can fulfill his initial promise as a pass rusher.  If he doesn't begin to excel in the role this year there may be little hope of Coples ever coming into his own, at least at the outside linebacker position.

Sunday's matchup provides the perfect opportunity for Coples to deliver a breakout performance.  The Jets pass rush will be facing a rookie QB, something Rex Ryan lives for.  We can probably expect a heavy dose of blitzes from Rex, which should free up Coples to do his thing.  In addition, the Raiders line is essentially completely revamped from a year ago.  Every position along the line is manned by a different player from the one who played the position a year ago.  While the Raiders' line may ultimately be improved, it ordinarily takes an offensive line some time to gel.  There should therefore be some growing pains in the first game of the season, and the Jets' defensive line should be able to exploit this.  In particular, the Raiders are starting a left tackle who was released this offseason by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Donald Penn.  Penn has had little time to adjust to his new surroundings and is reported to be struggling quite a bit in pass protection.  Combine Penn with a rookie, Gabe Jackson, starting at left guard, and a rookie starting at QB and you get the perfect opportunity for Quinton Coples to burst out of the gate with a big game.

This is the time for Quinton Coples to excel.  This is an opportunity tailor made for a breakout performance from Coples.  If we see him in the Raiders' backfield all day, making life miserable for Derek Carr and registering multiple pressures and/or sacks, then perhaps there is yet hope Coples can become a big time presence at outside linebacker.  If on the other hand we see Coples once again disappear when the deck appears to be stacked in his favor, perhaps it is time to seriously question just what Coples has to offer going forward.  Either way, Coples should prove to be a pivotal player in this game.   This is Coples' time in the spotlight.  Let's hope he shines come Sunday afternoon.