Florham Park, NJ- Quinton Coples is not your average defensive player. If an average defender gets injured they can simply be replaced by another average defender, but to replace Coples the Jets will rely on two separate players.
Rex Ryan is understandably disappointed that Coples is expected to miss, at least, three-to-four weeks with a slight hairline fracture in his ankle, but he is hoping that Garrett McIntyre plus Antwan Barnes can equal one Quinton Coples, at least on a temporary basis.
Ryan had big plans for Coples this season, including moving him to outside linebacker. Coples still spent some time at defensive end in camp and will likely do so when he returns, but Ryan wants to use Coples in the at linebacker this season and until he returns it’ll be up to McIntyre and Barnes to split his responsibilities.
McIntyre will get the starting job and handle more of the heavy lifting and they’ll lean on Barnes more as the pass rusher.
“Yes, and we’ll rotate Barnes in there as well. But yes, Garrett, I think he’s really earned that right.” Ryan said, “We brought Barnes in really to rush the passer and that would be his role, but obviously we’re going to challenge him to step up as well.”
Even though Barnes is the more experienced of the two, he’s experienced enough to understand why McIntyre gets the starting nod.
“Yeah, I was kind of expecting it.” Barnes said, “He’s (McIntyre) more of a run stopper type guy and I’m that guy that I know every call and everything like that so, if they need me at any point in the season I can do it.”
McIntyre can rush the passer, but is not nearly on the same level as Barnes as a pass rusher. While Barnes is the better pass rusher, McIntyre is superior in stopping the run and in coverage.
“Unfortunately Q (Quinton Coples) went down, so my job is to be able to play both outside linebacker positions, Sam and the rush.” McIntyre said, “So, Q went down (and) the next guy has to step up.”
McIntyre has carved out a nice little role for himself on this team in both special teams and in sub packages during these past two seasons and while he obviously isn’t happy Coples got hurt, he is hoping to take advantage of this opportunity to prove he can handle a bigger role.
“Yeah, you know, I’m glad.” McIntyre said, “I’ve worked hard the last two years to kind of run the defense and know the defense and I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on both positions. So, whatever role they want me to do, I’ll do.”
While the Jets will look for these two players to fill in for Coples, neither McIntyre or Barnes will be asked to make adjustments to their game, as McIntyre explained their assignment hasn’t changed, just the amount of reps.
“Well, that’s what an outside linebacker is. It’s a hybrid position, you’re like a glorified defensive end that has to drop back into coverage.” McIntyre said. “In 3-4 schemes, especially in Rex’s defense, you’ve got to be able to play the run, rush the passer and drop back into coverage. So, more at the rush position, Q’s position, it’s a little bit more hand in the dirt so that’s kind of taking me back to my old college days.”
Ryan said they don’t really have any one player that could be moved around in all the same ways Coples could, maybe Sheldon Richardson, but not this early in his career. But Ryan is confident they have enough pieces on the outside edge to hold down the fort until Coples returns.
“That was going to be more really for Q. I think Sheldon has some of that ability, but I kind of like him in his world right now, he’s doing a great job for us. But I feel really good, we’re fortunate.” Ryan said, “We’ve got some guys that can really play on the outside with Garrett and Calvin (Pace) obviously, and then Barnes and a couple other guys that are coming (along) as well.”