Florham Park, NJ– Last night a Jets fan tweeted defensive line coach Karl Dunbar asking him if the Jets were switching to a 4-3 (base) defense, Dunbar (@Kcoach99) responded “Nah we are staying 3-4 just moved QC to Rush.”
Immediately afterwards the debate broke out on Twitter about whether this was a smart move or if this was being overblown because they will probably have him play all over. After all, this really shouldn’t have been much of a surprise, Rex Ryan talked about this in the press conference immediately after they drafted Coples.
Ryan worked him out and worked him hard at the outside linebacker position, he wanted to see if he could make the transition. Reading between the lines, Ryan wouldn’t have drafted him if he didn’t think he could make the switch and, oh yeah, he also played quite a bit of outside linebacker in the last few weeks of the season last year, they’ve been prepping him for this role since the pre-draft workouts.
Add in the selection of Sheldon Richardson and all of a sudden the Jets defensive line is stacked and there’s still a need for an outside edge rusher, which is obviously where Coples comes in.
“I was working on it (outside linebacker) during my draft process because I didn’t know coming in whether I was going to be an outside linebacker or not from the beginning, but this transition has been good.” Coples said, “So I’m not new to this, but at the end of the day I’ve been working on it so I’m ready for it.”
When asked specifically if he thought this was a permanent move to the outside linebacker position or if he would move all around Coples said, “I think I’ll be there permanently. We have depth at the D-line position so I definitely think that it will be more of a permanent job more than a back-and-forth thing, but you never know, a package could come up where I could also play defensive line as well. So either way I’ll be prepared.
“It just depends on the call. It depends on what we got going on. At the end of the day, whatever call they make will determine whether I’ll play end or outside linebacker.”
He’s right about the we never know part. The very idea of whether the Jets use a base 3-4 or base 4-3 package is pretty much irrelevant, Ryan likes to use multiple fronts and has no problem using 4-3 fronts or 4-4, 5-2 or any other combination you can think of. Ryan will play to his player’s strengths and the situation, still it sounds like Coples is expecting to see much more action in the outside linebacker role.
Coples may have been preparing himself for this, but it became a reality on Monday. Coples told reporters that after the draft, “They came in and basically let me know I was going to be playing rush outside linebacker, so it was cool.”
He’s been studying his role as much as possible since then and said his main focus is working on dropping in coverage (will certainly be a tough transition to make but he does have the length and athleticism to pull it off) and even mores, tackling in space.
“Just working on my drops (coverage) and outside of that, I just rush.” Coples said, but when asked if dropping in coverage was the toughest part of the transition Coples said, “No, from what I’ve been seeing, probably tackling in space. In certain situations that the offense will give me, it’ll probably be something I focus on a lot more, everything else is pretty much instincts.”
People will question this move until we see the results, but Coples has embraced the move and feels confident he can excel at the position.
“I feel good, I think it’s going to open up more opportunities for me to get to the quarterback and also so my athleticism in dropping in coverage.” Coples said before adding that he definitely has high expectations for himself and the defense as a whole.
“Definitely, I definitely feel I have to go out and make a lot more plays than I did last year, being that I mastered the playbook and I got a year of experience under my belt.” Coples said, “I definitely think coming from the outside will definitely help me with my technique and things of that nature.”
Last year Coples played at 290 lbs., when asked if he’d be playing at that weight he said, “No, I’ll probably be a little smaller than that, 285 lbs., between 280-285 is pretty good.”
“That’s a pretty big linebacker” a reporter said to Coples. Coples looked up, smiled and responded, “Yeah,” while laughing in a diabolical/evil genius type of manner.
Yup, safe to say he’s excited and fully embracing the Rush linebacker role.