As they look to be fading fast from playoff contention, the Miami Dolphins are still searching for answers for its defensive woes. Throughout the season, they have had great difficulty stopping the run and putting adequate pressure on the quarterback. Time and again, these problems have cost the Dolphins a victory in close games where a stop or two could have made a difference.
The good news is Dolphins are still trying to find the right solutions to these problems. In an effort to shore up a front seven that has been besieged by injuries, the Dolphins have picked up LB/DE Quinton Coples off of waivers after he was released by the NY Jets. In the Jets 3-4 alignment, he just never seemed to grasp playing at the linebacker position, which led to his demise with the team. At 6'6" and 290 lbs, playing in pass coverage and trying to run down fleet wide receivers was something he just didn't seem to enjoy.
With the Dolphins, it is anticipated he will be placed back in his natural position at defensive end. The team is hopeful he can help put pressure on opposing quarterbacks while controlling the outside against the run. When asked about how he felt about the opportunity to get back on the defensive line, Coples responded "Yes, my hand will be in the dirt. I will be rushing the quarterback instead of dropping in passes and playing linebacker."
With Cameron Wake, Koa Misi, Jelani Jenkins, and Spencer Paysinger all nursing injuries, Coples arrival couldn't have come at a better time. Despite the fact he only had 8 tackles and no sacks in 10 games with the Jets at linebacker this year, he did average 5.5 sacks a season from 2012 to 2014 while playing at defensive end. It's that ability to use his agility to get to the quarterback that the Dolphins are counting on as they try desperately to get back into playoff contention.
Coples certainly isn't the answer to all the questions on this team, but it's a start. The 2015 season has been very disappointing for the coaches and fans who believed the Dolphins were ready to take the next step after a decent 8-8 record last season. Much of the anticipation came because of the improved play of QB Ryan Tannehill who threw for 4.045 yards and 27 TDs last season. He hasn't been quite as effective this year, but that might be because the defense has failed to give him a chance for enough quality snaps without defenses being able to lock in against the passing game.
In a twist of fate, Coples will be playing his first game with the Dolphins against none other than the New York Jets in New York. While his playing time will likely be limited until he has had the opportunity to adjust to the new system, Coples might be able to help his new employer by providing information about the Jets' offensive and defensive schemes. After hearing news of the transaction, Jets coaches have surely been scrambling to switch things up just a little.
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