Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comWhether the opinion is right or wrong, it’s always going to make headlines when a former great with ties to his old team publicly criticizes a current player on the roster. According to Brian Costello of the NY Post, here’s what Joe Klecko had to say about DE/OLB Quinton Coples.
The Jets great took down a current Jet on the radio Friday. Klecko, appearing on WFAN, criticized outside linebacker Quinton Coples.
“A little bit of the time he looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane,” Klecko said.
“Sometimes [Coples] gets out there and does things that are unbelievable. Well, you need to go out there and stick your nose in there every time and make sure everybody knows you’re there. I think he has a lot to learn,” Klecko said.
Klecko isn’t the only one questioning Coples’ game apparently. Rich Cimini wrote on ESPN NY Sunday that, the organization has had issues with Coples’ progress as well.
Coples has tested the patience of the coaches from the day he arrived, giving inconsistent effort. The talent is obvious, which explains the frustration level in the organization. He finished last season on an upswing (3.5 sacks in the last five games), so maybe he turned a corner.
Coples is a mountain of a man and his physical gifts are incredible. It is understandable why coaches would want more effort from him, his sheer size should allow him to do things that other players just can’t.
That said, it’s not as if Coples didn’t contribute over his time with the Jets and it seems unfair to bash him in this way. Pro Football Focus ranked Coples quite well, given his role. As a pass rusher, Coples was excellent his rookie year ranking 5th among 3-4 defensive ends. His pass-rush production dropped precipitously as a second year player in 2013, mostly due to the Jets forcing Coples into the OLB spot (where he ranked 32nd) for much of the season because of Sheldon Richardson’s presence on the line. While reaching the passer wasn’t easy for Coples, he did become more successful as the season wore on and he was still successful in other roles. Coples was one of the best run-stopping 3-4 DE/OLBs in the league in 2013, ranking 7th at the position. This compared to Calvin Pace’s ranking of 25th, a historical strength for Pace that is obviously fading.
Coples is in the unique and unlucky position of having been drafted between Mohammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson. It’s a blessing and a curse. It makes sense why some might criticize his play in comparison, but on the whole it’s our opinion that the perception of Coples suffers from being relegated to the line’s “garbage man” in 2013 and a positional switch which wasn’t easy.
UPDATE: Cheers to the many of you in the comments who mentioned something I completely overlooked. Coples returned early from a broken leg suffered during training camp. Coples pushed his return and it is more than fair to say that his play was effected.