LB Isaiah Simmons ready to help solve TE coverage problem for Cardinals

Apr 27, 2020, 5:13 PM
Clemson defender Isaiah Simmons (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)...
Clemson defender Isaiah Simmons (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals had a lot of problems in 2019, and one that seemed to always give opposing offenses an extra edge that Arizona couldn’t afford to allow was its coverage on tight ends.

Arizona’s defense gave up 15 touchdowns to the position in 2019, and grabbing a linebacker that could at least eliminate that as a weakness was an obvious priority in the offseason.

The Cardinals’ first-round pick Isaiah Simmons arguably makes it a strength now.

“Yes, that was extremely attractive for us is his ability to cover tight ends,” general manager Steve Keim said Thursday. “A lot of times in the NFL what you’ll see is, many of the linebackers in today’s game aren’t athletic enough to cover the tight ends that are having success and the safeties aren’t long enough.

“When you watch him move tape he sort of looks like a gumby doll, the guy’s got zero stiffness. He’s a natural knee-bender he’s got tremendous lateral quickness, and he can run and close like a bullet.”

Simmons discussed the specific role with Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Monday. When it comes to keys defending the position, he said it’s about not underestimating them.

“I think it’s just patience and just understanding that a tight end is no longer a stiff guy,” Simmons said. “He’s just a really good receiver.”

Then it’s his athletic prowess.

“I think I’ll be able to contribute a lot just because most of the guys that can’t cover tight ends — a lot of them don’t have the size to cover a tight end but the guys that do have the size really can’t cover them,” he said. “So I think I have a good mixture of both of those and will be able to really contribute and cover the tight ends.”

Simmons certainly has both of those things at nearly 6-foot-4, over 235 pounds while running under a 4.4 40-yard dash.

That makes Simmons the most versatile defensive player in his draft class, and a large part of why the Cardinals and others are so high on his ability.

“This league has become a mismatch league, where you see tight ends and you see different things that offensive coordinators, like Kliff, take advantage of defenses,” Keim said. “To me, this guy is an eraser and minimizes some of those problems.”

Life Changer Loans


Comment guidelines: No name-calling, personal attacks, profanity, or insults. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate comments by reporting abuse.
comments powered by Disqus

Arizona Cardinals

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson waves to fans during an NFL football practice in Berea,...
Associated Press

AP: Browns’ Deshaun Watson suspended 11 games, could return vs. Texans

Deshaun Watson has reached a settlement and will serve an 11-game suspension and pay a $5 million fine, per The Associated Press.
12 hours ago
Josh Jones #79 of the Arizona Cardinals participates in training camp activities at State Farm Stad...
Tyler Drake

Back at tackle, Arizona Cardinals OL Josh Jones is making strides

Arizona Cardinals offensive tackle Josh Jones is back at the position where he belongs and it's showing this training camp.
12 hours ago
Arizona Cardinals rookie TE Trey McBride looks on during training camp on Monday, Aug. 8, 2022, in ...
Tyler Drake

Cardinals notebook: Rookie Trey McBride set to make debut vs. Ravens

After dealing with a sore back, Arizona Cardinals rookie tight end Trey McBride is on track to play against the Ravens.
12 hours ago
Arizona Cardinals WR Marquise Brown looks on during training camp on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, in Glen...
Tyler Drake

Speeding arrest a learning moment for Arizona Cardinals’ Marquise Brown

Arizona Cardinals WR Marquise Brown spoke Wednesday for the first time since he was arrested for excessive speeding.
1 day ago
DENVER, COLORADO - DECEMBER 12: Jessie Lemonier #52 of the Detroit Lions gets set against the Denve...
Arizona Sports

Arizona Cardinals release linebacker Jessie Lemonier

The Arizona Cardinals released linebacker Jessie Lemonier, the team announced on Wednesday.
1 day ago
Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 and wide receiver Marquise Brown #5 of the Oklahoma Sooners celebrate a...
Tyler Drake

‘It’s just a natural connection’ for Cardinals’ Kyler Murray, Hollywood Brown

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray and WR Hollywood Brown linked up for the first time in an Arizona uniform on Monday. The chemistry is still there.
1 day ago
LB Isaiah Simmons ready to help solve TE coverage problem for Cardinals