Arizona Cardinals inside linebacker Isaiah Simmons during the NFL game at State Farm Stadium on Nov. 14, 2021, in Glendale, Arizona. The Panthers defeated the Cardinals 34-10.
What happened over the next two seasons showed that Simmons was a valuable asset to the Cardinals’ defense.
What was slated to be its second season in 2021 felt less orthodox than Simmons could have imagined? He would continue to play eight different positions during 2021. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Simmons played linebacker (324 plays), edge runner (207), outside linebacker (193), slot corner (139), internal defensive line, left corner, right corner and security. Having so much experience in defense could be useful in the future, especially in the linebacker position.
All Around Play was a blessing in disguise for Simmons
Having to play all of these positions in his third season has given him full experience, but not enough to be an expert at any. Now headed for his third season, Hudson is ready to give the Cardinals everything he has.
“Just being able to go everywhere has given me, conceptually, more knowledge of our defense, which has helped me a lot,” Simmons said. “I mean, it’s a leverage game, so knowing what their help is, it’s just, it’s been great.”
“I’ve played multiple positions for as long as you guys have known my name,” Simmons said. “That’s just the way I am.”
The 23-year-old linebacker also felt he needed to make it clear that he could “dominate” as an inside linebacker after last season’s experiences. Stepping up is one thing, but leading an Arizona defense that gave up the 12th-fewest points, 11th-fewest yards and seventh-fewest steals will require hard work and dedication all season long.
Simmons intends to become a leader no matter the cost
Simmons is not only confident in his abilities, but he has now begun to make noise throughout the Cardinals locker room. Filling that role at just 23 years old, he’s not shying away from the big time. His intentions may not have been realized until he gave JJ Watt, arguably the first-ballot Hall of Famer, his own criticisms.
“I really don’t have any problem saying anything to anybody, because at the end of the day, I’m not really here to be anybody’s friend,” Simmons stated in response to his criticism of Watt. “We’re all trying to get to the Lombardi Trophy…If you don’t like what I’m saying, then you’re probably there for the wrong reasons. Because I’m not saying anything to hurt anybody’s feelings or to get anybody’s attention. It’s all for the good of us.”
While it’s clear that Simmon’s intentions are good, it might seem silly to mention some of the bigger names in the locker room, especially one he’ll be sharing snaps with this season. Anyway, Watt isn’t the only player Simmons has expressed his concerns to, the other is his inside linebacker teammate, Collins, with whom he calls plays. Respectfully, this is the kind of attitude that can bring teams closer together and help improve a unit for when it matters deep into a game or season.