CARDINALS CORNER

Joseph: Cardinals LB Isaiah Simmons’ role in Week 2 ‘strictly game plan’

Sep 22, 2022, 6:05 PM
Arizona Cardinals star backer Isaiah Simmons (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)...
Arizona Cardinals star backer Isaiah Simmons (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)
(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

TEMPE — Fifteen.

That’s the number of defensive snaps star backer Isaiah Simmons recorded in the Arizona Cardinals’ Week 2 win in overtime over the Las Vegas Raiders.

After seeing 61 snaps just one week prior, Simmons saw his role reduced from starter to fringe role player on top of handing over the green dot to second-year MIKE linebacker Zaven Collins.

That didn’t stop Simmons from making the most of the limited reps, highlighted by his forced fumble that cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. scooped and scored for the game-winning touchdown.

Following the matchup, head coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters that Simmons was given a reduction in playing time entering the week with the ask that he practices better.

On Thursday, though, defensive coordinator Vance Joseph chalked up the changeup to scheme over performance.

So which one is it?

“It was strictly game plan. … My biggest challenge is getting the right people out there versus the right people,” Joseph said. “That’s going to be our challenge each week. But he played his butt off. He had a great week of practice after the Chiefs game. He was intentional at practice, had great meetings. He played his butt off.

“The two plays he made at the end of the game, nobody on our team can make them but him. … I said, ‘Listen, it’s not about how many plays you play. It’s about how you play when you play.’ … Week to week there’s going to be packages to help us play great defense until we get our (injured) guys back.”

In Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs, Simmons saw the biggest portion of his snaps as a slot corner (29). But that was just one of the five positions the star backer commanded in the loss, with Simmons also lining up in the box (22), along the line (three) and in secondary as a safety (three) and outside corner (four).

This past Sunday, however, Simmons saw most of his snaps in the box (10). He also lined up out wide (two) and in the slot (three).

It’s clear there was a pronounced shift in game plan when it came to Simmons in Week 2. Getting demoted and not fitting into the game plan for the matchup can both be true.

But regardless of what the exact reasoning is behind Simmons’ limited role, not playing someone as unique as Simmons just looks straight-up odd — as Joseph noted.

While one would imagine Simmons getting back into a similar role thanks to his late-game heroics and improved practices, it could very well be a game-by-game decision for Joseph moving forward.

“It’s always going to be week to week with … where he plays,” Joseph said. “That’s why he was drafted, that’s his position, that’s his body type.

“And that’s the challenge for us each week: where to put him so he can make plays to help us win. Last week, it was a good deal for him and us.”

Life Changer Loans
Arizona Cardinals CB Trayvon Mullen runs through drills during practice on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals star backer Isaiah Simmons chats with Marco Wilson during practice on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals TE Trey McBride warms up ahead of practice on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals CB Trayvon Mullen runs through drills during practice on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals CB Byron Murphy Jr. runs through drills during practice on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals RB James Conner warms up ahead of practice on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals OL Lecitus Smith warms up ahead of practice on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals WR Greg Dortch runs through drills during practice on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals WR Hollywood Brown runs through drills during practice on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury looks on during practice on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray looks on during practice on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals S Budda Baker runs through drills during practice on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals CB Jace Whittaker runs through drills during practice on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals WR Javon Wims runs through drills during practice on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker and quarterback Kyler Murray joke around during practice on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker and quarterback Kyler Murray joke around during practice on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals star backer Isaiah Simmons looks on during practice on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals RB James Conner warms up ahead of practice on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals WR Greg Dortch warms up ahead of practice on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals WR Javon Wims warms up ahead of practice on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals WR Stanley Berryhill warms up ahead of practice on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals WR Stanley Berryhill warms up ahead of practice on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals DL Andrew Brown runs through drills during practice on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals DL Andrew Brown runs through drills during practice on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals DL Zach Allen runs through drills during practice on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals DL Rashard Lawrence runs through drills during practice on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals DL Zach Allen runs through drills during practice on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals DL Michael Dogbe runs through drills during practice on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals DL Antwaun Woods runs through drills during practice on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals DL Antwaun Woods runs through drills during practice on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

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