QUINTON COPLES: Budding Rookie Ready to Blossom
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Quinton Coples is a weed. And that’s no knock on the sixteenth overall draft pick either. Weeds, like the dandelion, sprout fast — setting up roots and, if not uprooted, continues to rapidly grow in strength and size.
Much like weeds, Coples was not welcomed to many Jets fans’ gardens — instead desiring a prettier pass-rushing plant (Melvin Ingram, Bruce Irvin, Chandler Jones). While some saw a weed drafted at the midway point of the first round, Rex Ryan saw a budding beauty — one that, he says, is finally ready to blossom.
And not a moment sooner. With a team total of three sacks — one of which was awarded to Sione Po’uha — the Jets will need sacks more than ever with the loss of Darrelle Revis. That’s where, Ryan hopes, Coples comes in.
Upon being labeled as a starter before playing an NFL snap, Coples has hardly seen the field in the early. According to ESPN New York, Coples has seen 63 pro snaps through three games — good for a 30% play rate.
That’s Joey Lawrence ‘Whoa!’ worthy.
In his Thursday press conference, Ryan acknowledged that Coples will have a larger role Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
“I believe you’re going to be seeing him a lot more,” Ryan said while adding, “I think he’ll be ready to go.”
Perhaps a bit of a blase response from the Jets head coach, but what choice does he have? This is what they drafted him for and the reason why they made him a starter from Day 1 — help the pass rush in the immediate future.
Coples impressed many during the preseason, compiling a team-high 4.5 sacks — albeit mostly against backups. As expected, the former Tar Heel is excited for the opportunity.
“I think its great that [Ryan has] built his confidence up in me, giving me more playing time. It’s been a learning process for me, learning the different scheme in the defense, but I’m ready now and I’m ready to take further responsibility,” Coples said.
A learning curve that veteran Po’uha said Coples is farther ahead of than he was at that stage of his career.
“Whether it be Coples or Muhammad Wilkerson or Kenrick Ellis, these guys [are] light-years ahead of when I was a rookie. It took me a little while to get in, and they seemed to make the transition seamlessly and they’re doing a great job. [They’re] really mature for such young players,” Po’uha said.
Facing a 49ers’ offensive line who’s given up an average of 3.1 sacks per game — which equals out to 48 sacks on Alex Smith through 16 games, Coples is expecting to make an impact.
“I definitely think I can make an impact. It’s definitely going to be great to give some guys a blow. I just need to get out there, and take on some of those tackles for the linebackers as well and make plays as well for myself,” he said.
An impact that Po’uha has seen first-hand in practice.
“He always had the determination and I think you can almost see it, it just becomes relevant when somebody kind of gets it – the ‘gets it’ factor. I think Q kind of understands, ‘Okay, this is how things work, this is how I fit into the scheme of things.’ He’s always had great effort, [he’s] always had great technique, but I think it’s almost becoming more of a second nature to him and that’s where you can see the blossom take place,” he said.