When the New York Giants acquired Isaiah Simmons from the Arizona Cardinals, it was with the vision that he would serve a “position-less” role on defense. The cost? A mere seventh-round draft pick and absorbing $1 million of his salary for the season. Considering the move, general manager Joe Schoen’s risk on Simmons’ skill set seems justified.
Week 1 Letdown: Giants Struggle Against the Cowboys
Despite the promise of Simmons, he couldn’t be the savior for the Giants in their Week 1 clash against the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys’ defense utterly overpowered the Giants’ vulnerable offensive line, which had glaring weaknesses on the right side. Now, facing a less daunting Arizona Cardinals team in Week 2, Simmons is eyeing an opportunity to make an impact against his former teammates.
The Learning Curve: Simmons Adapting to New Schemes
Simmons may have only joined the Giants recently, but defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has already noticed him making strides.
“He’s fitting in. He’s just gonna keep getting better and better,” Martindale said before practice Thursday in East Rutherford, via the NY Post. “I think his role is going to expand, because he’s that good of a player. He’s just learning the packages. What is this, the third week he’s been here? So it’s just gonna keep expanding.
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Emotion and Objectivity: Facing the Former Team
Simmons acknowledges the emotional weight of facing his former squad but maintains his focus on the team’s larger objectives.
“I’m not an emotionless person, but I’m not going to do anything crazy out there,” Simmons said post practice. “The main goal is to win the game and beat whoever is across from us, and this week just happens to be Arizona,
This focus comes after a disheartening 40-point loss to Dallas, a game in which the Giants didn’t even score a point. Turning the tables on the Cardinals could set the tone for their next encounter with the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3.
Utility Man: Simmons’ Role in the Giants’ Defense
In the game against Dallas, Simmons was on the field for just 15 snaps, making a tackle and giving up only 5 yards over two targets. In contrast, last year with the Cardinals, he participated in 897 snaps, racking up 70 tackles, nine pressures, and conceding 527 yards in coverage. For Martindale and the Giants, Simmons is seen as a versatile asset, able to fill in various roles in sub-packages.
Position-Less Philosophy: Increasing NFL Longevity
“The way Wink runs his system, when he says ‘position-less’ defense, he really means that. That’s kind of how I think of things, too,” Simmons explained. “I feel like that just increases your value and it’s why you’ll stay in the NFL. So I don’t take it as anything bad.”
Future Prospects: Laying the Groundwork for 2024 and Beyond
Simmons is eager for another starting opportunity to showcase his skills. Yet, the Giants are also exploring how to optimize his capabilities further. This could pave the way for him to stick around for the 2024 season, especially if he doesn’t produce a stellar season warranting a big contract extension from another team.
Still, making an impact against the Cardinals could prove a vital first step, aided by his understanding of their scheme—a valuable asset for the Giants’ game planning.