Aaron Maybin just might be Quinton Coples’ biggest advocate in the locker room.
In some ways, the Jets outside linebacker sees himself when he sees the rookie on the field: a young guy, full of promise, dogged by questions and criticisms.
“I’m probably pulling for him more than anybody else,” Mayin said of Coples, the Jets first-round draft pick. “Just because of the fact that I know what it feels like to come in the league and be in that position where a lot is expected of you, where people have question marks about what it is that you can do and all that kind of stuff.”
The expectations were high the moment Maybin was drafted 11th overall by the Bills in 2009 – and by the time he was waived by Buffalo in August, he was considered by some to be as big of a disappointment as Vernon Gholston is to Jets fans.
In 2009: he registered nine tackles and one forced fumble in 16 games (no starts)
In 2010: he registered five tackles in 10 games (one start)
By then, the fans in Buffalo had given up on him. But the outside linebacker reinvented himself with the Jets last season: 16 quarterback hurries, 10 tackles, six sacks and four forced fumbles in 13 games.
For that very reason, Maybin feels it’s dangerous to question and criticize athletes like Coples – who was hounded by inquiries about his sporadic motor in college.
“The danger is you yourself starting to take these expectations and then putting them on yourself,” he said. “You can’t reach this point in the game without having high expectations of yourself as a player, without being able to mentally motivate yourself. So when you have a guy that’s been able to get to this point, he’s already got the tools to make himself a good pro. He just has to learn how to do so.”
Though negative talk of Coples dominated the airways after the Jets selected him 16th overall, the rookie defensive end hasn’t been affected by his detractors. Unfortunately for Maybin, it took almost three years before he learned to let go of the negativity. The improvement in his game finally came when he stopped listening to the doubters and joined Rex Ryan’s defense.
“I’m the type of person where, if things aren’t going well, I can allow it to really bother me,” said Maybin, who is seeking an expanded role on defense after bulking up to 243 over the past three months. “A lot of us are like that – especially guys that are used to playing great, and used to completely dominating their competition. Whenever you transition into the league, there’s going to be that learning curve there, and there’s going to be that time where you really have to realize where you fall in the grand scheme of things. But once he figures all that stuff out, he should be fine.
“All Quinton needs to do is focus on being the player that he is. And once he realizes the amount of talent that he does have, and once he realizes how good he can be, I think you’re just going to see him get better and better.”