Denver Broncos: Justin Simmons in-depth
Justin Simmons is the most valuable player on the Broncos’ defense, lets take an in-depth look as to why.
Justin Simmons has been the best defensive player on the Broncos for at least two years now as well as one of the best players at his position in the league.
Simmons’ impact goes far beyond his individual statistics and how valuable he actually is often goes unnoticed in the eyes of fans. In today’s NFL, the most prevalent defensive structure is a 2-high shell, and the Broncos’ Head Coach Vic Fangio has been one of the most pivotal teachers of this structure.
Within this structure, offenses often try to isolate the weak link of the two-deep safeties with route concepts that manipulate their coverage rules (WATCH).
The concept in the clip above is called scissors. It aims to take advantage of one of the two safeties, they have to make a choice on either the post from #1 or the corner from #2 and the quarterback chooses whichever route the safety does not.
Offenses look to take advantage of the weaker of the two safeties, and through 11 weeks into the season, Justin Simmons has rarely been the subject of the attempts to isolate him. Simmons has a great understanding of the rules within his own coverages and is asked to do a lot in this defense (WATCH).
The Steelers have been one of the best offenses in the past half-decade when aligned in a bunch formation. Simmons is asked to play a skinny post from a dynamic receiver in Chase Claypool. The ball went to the opposite side of the field, but Simmons did a great job of positioning himself to make a play through the hands if it were thrown.
Watch this clip from the game against Washington.
Washington tries to work a whip route to one of the best pass-catching running backs in the league in JD McKissic with routes from a bunch set to create traffic for Simmons to work through. Simmons works through it seamlessly and takes away Heinicke’s main read allowing the pass rush to get there.
Not only is Simmons exceptional in coverage, he may be the best safety in the league at playing the run from depth. When in a light box with two high safeties, both safeties are a part of the run fit so it is important for them to be fundamentally sound, Simmons is much more than that.
Simmons isn’t the only one who makes a nice play here (WATCH), Justin Strnad forces the run to bounce to the outside causing the TFL.
Simmons comes from around 12 yards of depth (WATCH) to fill the cutback lane and bring down Benny Snell.
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Justin Simmons is the most influential piece to coach Fangio’s defense and when he works, it works.