Cardinals’ Isaiah Simmons shows growing pains in secondary in loss vs. Chiefs

Aug 19, 2023, 7:32 PM | Updated: Aug 20, 2023, 8:17 am

Isaiah Simmons...

Isaiah Simmons (Arizona Sports Photo/Jeremy Schnell)

(Arizona Sports Photo/Jeremy Schnell)

The Kansas City Chiefs found success targeting Arizona Cardinals safety Isaiah Simmons in coverage during their preseason game at State Farm Stadium on Friday.

Simmons played alongside many projected starters along coordinator Nick Rallis’ defense, for which he has worked exclusively in the secondary this offseason.

The 25-year-old has said he feels more free in the secondary, somewhere he played a lot before entering the NFL and starting off at linebacker.

He played just 14 snaps in Arizona’s preseason opener last week, so Saturday was a continuation of Simmons finding his feel in a new position and a new defense. There were growing pains against the defending Super Bowl champs in a 38-10 loss.

Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes started the game and hit wide receiver Justin Watson in the end zone for his lone touchdown pass in the first quarter. Watson had a few steps on Simmons in zone, giving Mahomes a window to throw on the run. It turned into an off-schedule play once Mahomes scrambled to his right.

Simmons was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty earlier on the drive for a hit on receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling after he picked up 21 yards.

“I know he had the one penalty which was bang-bang, it was good physical play and a couple times in coverage he might have lost leverage but we’ll go back to the to the tape and get him cleaned up,” head coach Jonathan Gannon said postgame.

On the following offensive possession for Kansas City, second-round rookie Rashee Rice lost Simmons on an inside move on a corner route for a 38-yard gain. Simmons bit for the move and struggled to change directions.

The Chiefs scored their second touchdown on a 15-yard run by quarterback Shane Buechele to cap the the series. Simmons beat Buechele to the goal line but appeared to overrun him.

A night of learning moments for Simmons, who in his fourth season after operating as a utility player previously under former coordinator Vance Joseph.

“I feel like I obviously need to play better,” Simmons said. “I feel that each and every single game. Explosives definitely are something that we need to tone down because explosives leads to you winning the game.”

He has worked as a safety and nickel this offseason after spending time just about everywhere since he got drafted in 2020. The former Clemson Tiger has struggled in coverage in the NFL, as he allowed an 83.8% completion percentage last year.

Simmons has a rare combination of size and speed which made him a top 10 pick, but he enters a big year in his career with Arizona declining his fifth-year option.

Arizona’s defense as a unit struggled to stop the Chiefs after forcing punts on their first two possessions. Kansas City scored on each of its final six series.

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