Quinton Coples released: Should the Jaguars pursue?


Quinton Coples was released by the New York Jets on Monday, November 23rd. The Jacksonville Jaguars should take a look.

There are few things hurting the Jacksonville Jaguars as much as a mediocre pass rush. While the team produced plenty of sacks in 2014 and has created some decent pressure at times during the 2015 season, they lack that consistent pass rush that can disrupt each and every down.

That was all supposed to be solved with Dante Fowler Jr., the team’s first round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Instead, he is missing the season after injury benched him at his first rookie practice.

Since then, it’s been all too tough for the Jags to generate pressure.

Head coach Gus Bradley’s defense depends on the disruption of the opposing offensive line and quarterback with four base linemen. In 2014, the Jaguars blitzed less than every other team in the NFL. The next closest team blitzed 39 times more than the Jaguars did as the Jags finished with less than 100 blitzes all season.

So the need for a better, consistent edge rusher is there. That isn’t surprising.

What is most surprising is that nobody has been pursued through the season despite the obvious deficiency.

That could change with someone like Quinton Coples.

The former first rounder was released from the New York Jets because he was “too slow” to play outside linebacker in new head coach Todd Bowles’ defense. The Jets head coach thought he would be a better fit along the defensive line, but the Jets already have a slew of quality linemen.

After amassing a decent 16.5 sacks for the Jets in his first three seasons, Coples has zero sacks in year four under Bowles. To me, that suggests a less than perfect marriage. It also suggests that a change of scenery could do some good for the pass rusher.

As the Jaguars struggle for the rest of the year fielding players like the aging Chris Clemons as the starting Leo pass rushing lineman, they would do well to take a look at someone like Coples. He’s young with a proven sack history, there’s no stigma with him “underperforming” for a first rounder because the Jags didn’t draft him, and he’s likely ready to excel as a lineman rather than a rush linebacker.

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That sounds like someone head coach Gus Bradley could use on his defense. It sounds like someone who could succeed as a rushing lineman rather than a linebacker. If he pans out, good. If he doesn’t then there’s no harm in getting another body that is at least the Andre Branch equivalent or better.

The Jags should make a move and see what they can do with the new free agent pass rusher. Dante Fowler isn’t coming back this season anyway.