Cardinals’ Vance Joseph appoints Isaiah Simmons to new position: ‘star backer’

GLENDALE – This question has been asked ever since the Arizona Cardinals drafted him No. 8 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft: What position will Isaiah Simmons play?

linebacker? Security? A hybrid of both?

Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph on Saturday called the third-year pro a “star backer,” meaning he’s able to play in multiple positions, such as linebacker, safety and money, depending on the plan and game plan for that particular week. .

“He’s playing well, but we’ll see,” Joseph said. “That’s what camp is for — to find out how far we can go to play with him in certain places. So right now, we’re just reaching out to the stars and hope it’s good enough.”

“In this scheme, it could be a lot of space. … we will see,” said Joseph. “It depends on a game plan.”

The 6-foot-4, 238-pounder Simmons was technically used primarily as a linebacker during Saturday’s open practice, the first time Cardinals fans could see him in attendance at State Farm Stadium.

However, Simmons’ athleticism in the slot allows Joseph to play his base 4–3 plan even if the offense is in three- and four-receiver sets, without sacrificing a linebacker for a cornerback on the field.

For example, during Saturday’s practice, Joseph was able to use a base 4–3 formation in a three-receiver set against the Cardinals’ first-team offense, while keeping two high safes Simmons had a stride for a stride. Maintaining athletic ability. Slot Wide Receiver – Unlike most linebackers.

Joseph compared Simmons to former NFL safety Taylor Mays, who was coached by the current Cardinals DC during his time with the San Francisco 49ers (2010) and the Cincinnati Bengals (2014).

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“They are very similar. They are not pro enough, not safe enough,” said Joseph. “They are kind of star players – big, fast guys who can cover, play half, who can blitz Huh. … (Simmons) is special because he can do things that other people can’t, as far as covering work is concerned.

“He’s a big guy who can tackle, run and chase, he can blitz, he can play that edge. But at the same time he covered people in slots like CeeDee Lamb and those And he likes it. It’s different from most linebackers.”

Joseph hopes to plan around Simmons countering the offense, but the defensive coordinator also realizes that it is entirely possible to ask too much from any one player.

“Practice as you install and game plans are very different. Game plans are tight,” Joseph said. “In practice installs tend to be a lot. Right now we have four installs and everything is fine right now.

“It’s a lot of defense in five days, but the games are really tight. It’s a first-, second-down package – eight, nine calls. Third down- four, five calls and the red zone. So the game is really easy with practice. Huh.”

Joseph said Simmons’ numbers were “off the charts” last season, but added that he skipped too many plays and that the next development in his career would limit him.

“I think Isaiah is on his way to becoming a great player,” Joseph said. “He clearly still has to honing his skills and raise his football IQ.”

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