Wilkerson has been productive. Sheldon Richardson has been productive. And Barnes was productive. So will that change now for Coples? Today on the podcast, the topic of Coples came up with Corey and I believe that he's close to that production showing up on Sundays because I think there's a lot of things in play here, but I believe that Coples' productivity will pick up quickly in the coming weeks.
He's Been on the Mend -- Coples is recovering from a broken ankle and his recovery time came on the short side, so it is to be expected that he might have still had some healing to do when he returned to the field. Three games in, he's going to be getting to as close as he can expect to get to 100 percent and it will start to show up more on the field. Bent noted this week that the Jets rested Coples on four-man situations on passing downs, normally where they place Coples inside to generate his best pass rush. The team didn't do that, using him elsewhere and resting him in those situations he most relishes. Using a recuperating starter inside has precedent for the Jets.
When the Jets had less depth many years ago under Rex Ryan, the team protected Calvin Pace by turning their OLB into an interior pass rusher until he was close to full health. It wasn't particularly effective, but kept Pace from overly torquing his healing leg. For whatever reason. The same strategy seems to have been ineffective in the Bills and Titans games ... so the coaching staff might have figured discretion the better part of valor.
Complementing Richardson -- Richardson is playing out of his gourd against the run, but has been less effective as a pass rusher. Not bad, just less effective. Coples has historically been productive as a pass-rusher first, so look to see if the Jets don't employ a method where Richardson comes off the field some on third down situations, or maybe if he stays on the field, is less of a focal point with a healthier Coples. This would then create more of an opportunity for Coples to be highlighted in passing situations.
Barnes Role Needs to be Filled by someone -- With Antwan Barnes out for the rest of the season, the role will likely be shared among a few players (Coples, Pace, Sapp). Coples will likely share that role in rushing the passer with a few other players, but expect Coples to be the first man.