Many looked to place the bust label on Arizona Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons given his lack of defensive snaps and production through the first seven weeks of the season.
But over the past 3 weeks, we have seen a different Isaiah Simmons. Since his game-changing interception in the first go-around against the Seattle Seahawks, Simmons’ production and playing time have increased substantially. And boy, did he put on a clinic in his Thursday night outing.
While the Arizona Cardinals took a hard loss on Thursday night, Simmons made plays all over the field. By the end of the game, he led the Cardinals with ten total tackles, nine solo tackles, his first career sack, two tackles for a loss, and he even added a quarterback hit. It was by far Simmons’ best career outing and you can bet he will see a few more games as he had on Thursday night.
It appears the game is finally slowing down for Simmons, whose development was definitely stunted by the lack of live, off-season practices and preseason, limiting his repetitions before the tidal wave that is the NFL season took hold. And as a result, it forced coaches to limit his role during the season’s first two months.
Simmons is no longer struggling in all phases of his game as he was three months ago. He is making big plays against the run, in pass coverage, and even the pass rush. That said, Simmons’ stock is trending up and even if incumbent inside linebackers Jordan Hicks and De’Vondre Campbell stick around, defensive coordinator Vance Joseph will carve out a role for Simmons.
Simmons doesn’t need to be stuck in the rotation at inside linebacker. He is a versatile player who is strong and athletic enough to play outside linebacker, safety, and even corner. He is the type of utility player defensive coordinators dream of, and it looks like his rookie season will be his breakout campaign after all.
It will be exciting to see what Simmons will do for the Cardinals in the future. So yeah, losing always sucks. But Isaiah Simmons provided a bright spot on Thursday night. And his stock will continue to trend upward in the future.