<
>

Source: Incident on Jets' team flight sealed Quinton Coples' ouster

Former Jet Quinton Couples will face his old team Sunday when the Dolphins come to MetLife Stadium. Andrew Weber/USA Today Sports

A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:

1. More Coples fallout: Another layer to the Quinton Coples story has emerged. The former first-round pick was involved in an incident on the team's return flight from Houston last Sunday, a source said. Whatever happened on the flight is unclear, but it didn't sit well with the powers-that-be, sealing his fate. Remember the circumstances of the day: Emotions were running high after a difficult loss in which Coples played a season-low five snaps on defense.

The Jets declined to comment.

Previously, coach Todd Bowles cited playing time and scheme fit as the primary reasons for waiving Coples, an oversized linebacker who went from starter to bit player over the last two months. The curious timing, though, was a red flag. He was fired only 12 hours after the team arrived home from Houston. He didn't become a spare part overnight, and yet they couldn't wait to get him out of the building.

Bowles doesn't mess around, as he showed months ago after the IK Enemkpali/Geno Smith altercation. He's a no-nonsense coach, and he will hold players accountable. Coples was an easy target because he was on thin ice anyway, but the plane situation provided a convenient opening to send him packing. Bowles said he wasn't trying to convey a message to his slumping team, but he added, "We're just trying to play good football players and we're trying to play guys that want to play and guys that are ready to play." Interesting choice of words.

Clearly, the move rattled the locker room, judging by the players' hesitancy to comment on Coples' ouster.

Coples, claimed by the Miami Dolphins, returns Sunday to face his old team.

2. Tweaking the lineup: With Coples gone, rookie Lorenzo Mauldin moves up the team's official depth chart, becoming the new starter at rush linebacker in the 3-4 defense. This doesn't mean he'll be an every-down player; he could be just a paper starter. The Jets have shifted toward the 4-3 in recent weeks, playing without a rush linebacker. If they go back to the 3-4, yes, you'll see more Mauldin on the field, according to Bowles. He's their fastest edge rusher, so you have to think they'd want him on the field. The question is, can they live with his mistakes? He's still learning, so there's a risk-reward factor.

3. Closing Revis Island? When Darrelle Revis returns from his concussion, it'll be interesting to see if there are any changes in how he's deployed. For the most part, he gets the No. 1 receiver with no safety help. It backfired last week in Houston, where he was torched by DeAndre Hopkins on a 61-yard touchdown. Revis was criticized for being a star in decline, but maybe, as former Jets assistant-turned-analyst Mike Westhoff pointed out in an ESPN 98.7 radio interview, the coaches should adjust to help out the player.

Maybe the Jets should take a page from -- dare I say it? -- the New England Patriots' playbook. Last season, Bill Belichick often put Revis in single coverage on the No. 2 receiver, using two other defenders to double the No. 1. Naturally, there were exceptions, depending on the team and the receivers, but that was the general philosophy. They won a Super Bowl, so it's hard to argue with the approach. The pass-coverage rules are so pro-offense that it has become a herculean challenge for a cornerback, even a great one, to man-up against a star receiver on every single play.

I believe Revis would be open to the change. My gut tells me he and Bowles probably have discussed it, and the reason I say that is because the Jets started mixing their coverages after the Hopkins touchdown, assigning Revis to different receivers.

This will be a big story in the coming days because they play the New York Giants, and the assumption is Revis -- if healthy -- will cover Odell Beckham Jr. Stay tuned.

4. Harrison is snacking: It was overshadowed by the loss, but Damon Harrison played one of his best games last week in Houston. He recorded a career-high 12 tackles, leading the team in that category for the first time in his career. "Big Snacks" is having his best season, showing he can do more than tie up blockers and fill space -- the usual requirements of a 3-4 nose tackle. He has been a disruptive presence, recording six tackles for loss (five more than last year) and eight quarterback hits (one shy of his 2014 total). He has only a half-sack, but he likes his improvement in that area.

"As far as rushing the passer, this has been my most productive year," he said. "I'm getting a lot more hurries, I'm in the quarterback's face and I'm collapsing the pocket."

Two reasons for the uptick in production: There are playmaking opportunities for a nose tackle in Bowles' one-gap scheme, and Harrison's playing time has increased. The timing couldn't be better. He will be a coveted free agent after the season.

5. Ring of the Future: Emerson Boozer and Matt Snell will be inducted Sunday into the Ring of Honor during a halftime ceremony, prompting this thought: Which current players are locks for the Ring of Honor in the future?

In my opinion, four players fall into that category -- Revis, Nick Mangold, D'Brickashaw Ferguson and David Harris. They arrived in 2006 and 2007, becoming the Jets' version of the Core Four. Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson are on the right track, but they've played only five and three years, respectively -- not enough to be considered locks.

6. The quiet man: James Carpenter doesn't say much, which is fitting because he's having a quietly effective year. He's one of only seven starting guards who hasn't allowed a sack, according to Pro Football Focus. He was a solid free-agent signing.

7. Feeling a cold draft: The Coples debacle shined the light once again on the Jets' poor drafting record in recent years. One way to evaluate a draft is to see how many players sign second contracts with their original team. Using that as a measuring stick, the Jets come up way short. Since 2008, only three picks have re-upped -- Mark Sanchez (2009), Bilal Powell (2011) and Jeremy Kerley (2011). Powell and Kerley could be gone next year, wiping out that group. The next hope for a second contract is Wilkerson, but that situation is complicated, as you know.