Joe Klecko knows a thing or two about rushing the passer.
A former Jets defensive lineman and member of the “New York Sack Exchange,” his prowess earned him four trips to the Pro Bowl and a spot in the team’s Ring of Honor.
Now in a position to judge Gang Green’s current pass rushers — namely linebacker Quinton Coples — Klecko doesn’t like what he sees.
“A little bit of the time, he looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane,” Klecko said of Coples, via ESPNNewYork.com. “Sometimes he 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.”
This isn’t anything new for Coples, the 16th overall pick of the 2012 draft. He entered the league with red flags surrounding his work ethic and hasn’t done much to dispel them, recording just 10 sacks in two seasons.
Physically, the 6-foot-6, 290-pound Coples — a converted defensive end-turned-linebacker — has all the tools, but Klecko believes it may be going to waste.
“I don’t know him at all, but understanding attitude and body language, he sometimes comes out there, I think, and thinks, ‘Don’t you know who I am? I’m here,'” Klecko said. “He has to start proving that he is something to be reckoned with
“You have to have defensive players on the team that do that kind of play – go for the jugular vein, all out, all the time. And then everyone starts to listen you. If you have just a group of lukewarm guys, you’re going to have lukewarm players that will need to have to be picked up by their leaders.”
Klecko aired similar concerns about Coples’ teammate, All-Pro defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson.
“I think there’s a few too many plays he gives up on a little bit,” Klecko said of Wilkerson. “You know, he’s big enough to hunt bear with a switch, there’s no doubt. He’s an unbelievable talent, but he has to put it out there every single play. Now, sure, everybody is going to say, ‘Yeah, he does.’ No, he doesn’t, I’m telling you right now. He needs to put it out there every single play. Now, (Sheldon) Richardson does that.”
For reference, Wilkerson recorded more sacks in 2013 (10.5) than Coples has in his young career. He’s also become the Jets’ unquestioned leader on defense, helping anchor the NFL’s third-best unit against the run.
There aren’t many Jets fans — if any — who’d lump Coples and Wilkerson together in a negative light. As knowledgeable as he may be on the subject, Klecko is likely alone in his opinion.