- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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The most interesting personnel decision in Saturday night’s 25-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals involved the rush-linebacker position.
What’s up with that?
New York Jets coach Rex Ryan was asked if it was a glimpse into how he plans to use them this season, and he didn’t back away from that notion.
“It’s definitely a sign of things to come,” he said. “[Babin] is a good football player. We’ll definitely use him.”
Was this a message to the underachieving Coples? Perhaps, but it probably was more about Babin than anything else. The Jets signed him on the eve of training camp, thinking he’d be a situational pass rusher, but now they’d like to see if he plays the run well enough to be used in the base defense.
That’s the knock on Babin: He’s a one-dimensional player and is not a fan of defending the run. He played more than 700 snaps last season for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and you get the impression he didn't love the every-down role. "That wasn't the plan," he said a few weeks ago.
The well-traveled veteran replaced Coples in the second quarter and played the entire quarter with the starting defense. Babin was credited with only one assisted tackle, according to the press-box stats, but the Bengals didn’t have much success on the ground (six carries for 12 yards). By then, starting quarterback Andy Dalton was out of the game. Coples was credited with a half-sack in his brief outing. He dropped about 15 pounds in the offseason, reporting at 270, and there was a lot of chatter about how this will be a breakout season for the former first-round pick.
No, the Jets aren't giving up on Coples, who still intrigues with his raw talent. But this shows they're not married to one guy at the position.
4dField Yates and Rich Cimini