Cardinals can’t let the Alford injury impact the plan for Simmons

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Isaiah Simmons
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Isaiah Simmons /

Rookie linebacker Isiah Simmons has the athletic ability to fill a hole that Robert Alford’s season-ending injury has created

It’s been a tough start for veteran corner Robert Alford in Arizona. After being brought in prior to last season to start opposite of Patrick Peterson and sure up the Cardinals secondary, Alford suffered a leg injury that cost him all of 2019. He then spent all of his quarantined-style offseason rehabbing and getting himself into great shape, only to get re-injured the first week of camp, tearing his pectoral muscle. Ouch.

His injury has caused many people to speculate some rearranging on the Cardinals defense, and they do have a few options. One is to move second year slot corner Byron Murphy to the outside, place box safety Budda Baker in the slot, and slide Isiah Simmons from inside linebacker to box safety.

At first glance, this doesn’t seem all that bad. Murphy played outside the numbers during Peterson’s absence at the beginning of last year, and although he didn’t blow anybody away, it would be fair to expect a solid improvement going into year two. For Baker, he’s roamed all over the Cardinal defense since being drafted.  I’d be confident that he’d play well anywhere he lines up at this point. Lastly, Simmons is an athletic freak. There’s a reason he went 8th overall back in April, so it would be exciting for fans to see him play multiple positions just like he did so well at Clemson.

However, from the get go the Cardinals brass has stated they don’t want to put too much on the pate of Simmons. The idea is to play him at inside linebacker for the majority of this season to let him learn the position at the NFL level. Once comfortable at that spot, THEN you loosen the leash on him and let him affect the game from different areas of the defense.

This lets him learn the scheme along with NFL game from the inside out, which should be the most efficient. The Cardinals track record with young linebackers has not been great the past decade.

From Deone Buccanon to Haasan Reddick, both first round picks, it seems like players at that position with the most versatility have been the ones who can’t find any consistency.  That’s completely on the coaching staff, and up to this point DC Vance Joseph hasn’t shown anything to make me believe he won’t do the same with Simmons.

dark. Next. Health issues cut former Cardinals DE career short

That’s why it’s important that Arizona doesn’t get overwhelmed by this early season set back. If the proper replacement for Alford isn’t currently on the roster, there is enough cap space to explore cheap, veteran corner options in free agency.  Isiah can truly be a dominating figure in the league if he’s used correctly, so let’s make that a priority for the 2020 Arizona Cardinals.

(@RedSeaTrent on Twitter for more Cardinals coverage.)