By Danny Cox
Chris Simms is known for a great number of reasons, including, but not limited to: being the son of former New York Giant great Phil Simms, rupturing his spleen during a game, and playing some great football for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Denver Broncos and Tennessee Titans. Now, he’s an analyst for CBS Sports, and he still knows good football when he sees it.
From the field to the booth, Simms spent some time talking with us about this week’s upcoming Thursday Night Football Game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans. It’s going to be an AFC South battle that will determine who is in first place in the division.
Is Andrew Luck on his way to becoming the next Peyton Manning in a Colts uniform or is it too early to tell?
Chris Simms: “Is he on his way to becoming one of the greatest quarterbacks our game has to offer? I think he’s already there. As of just right now, in my mind, definitely one of the three greatest quarterbacks in football. He’s just so hard to defend in so many ways. He’s a great down-the-field thrower. I don’t think anybody throws the ball under pressure, with people around him, better than he does.
He can do it on the run, too, which is scary because he’s such a big guy. He runs basically a tenth faster than Johnny Manziel, who we all think is a great runner, yet Luck would blow him away in a race. That’s high praise to say he is on the way to being the next Peyton Manning. He certainly is off to a good start and certainly headed in the right direction as being one of the all-time greats.”
Do you think Ryan Fitzpatrick has what it takes to lead the Texans into a playoff spot?
CS: “I do think he can lead them to the playoffs but my big thing is that I don’t think he could do much for them once he got to the playoffs. Right now, he is managing the offense. They run the ball better as of late and he has made some timely plays, but when you get into the playoffs, you play some of the better defenses the NFL has to offer. I don’t know if he can stretch a defense as much as he would like. He’s a little limited in throwing the ball down the field and outside the numbers.”
Houston already looks like a much different team than last year’s squad. What do you think has been the key to their turn-around this season?
CS: “To me, it’s Billy O’Brien. I coached up in New England for a little over a year right after Billy O’Brien left. I think it is more the mindset that he has brought to the team, the attention to detail, and the overall toughness of the team altogether. That’s the big improvement.
I know people talk about Houston’s defense, but statistically, they’re a lot worse this year than last year. Offensively, I think we can just see the key thing is the toughness…especially in the run game. They are able to adapt a game plan week in and week out. The defense may not be statistically great as far as yards go, but they are kind of bend, don’t break. They let you get far but don’t let you in the end zone once you get down there.”
JJ Watt is showing more to his arsenal every week. Do you think he’s quickly becoming one of the best defensive players in the league?
CS: “He is the best defensive player in the league. I’ve watched him every week and all the time, I think he can’t be as dominant as he was last week and then there he is on every play. I think it’s been unbelievable how disruptive he’s been, especially in the position he plays on the defensive line at times. He has literally gone through all offensive lines and embarrassed them at some point during a game.”
Which running back do you think brings more to the Colts – Trent Richardson or Ahmad Bradshaw?
CS: “Ahmad Bradshaw is the guy there. As you watch them more and more…I think he’s the more talented runner and he’s a better pass catcher out of the backfield. He’s just more explosive and dynamic when he has the ball in his hands. That’s evident to me when he touches the ball and he’s always a step up, but then I realize that’s Bradshaw always getting better.
They need help in that run game. They need someone that can make some yards on their own. This will stop putting too much pressure on Andrew Luck to make magic happen.”
Arian Foster recently said that both fans and players don’t like Thursday night football – Do you agree?
CS: “No, I don’t agree with that. As a fan, I love Thursday Night Football. As a player, why wouldn’t you love it? You get almost an extra bye week after it’s over. You get a long weekend, two or three days off. The physical demand may be a little tougher, but also, you almost get to cheat a week where you don’t have practice on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. It’s a lot of walk-throughs.
Yeah, you get the game on a short week, but then you get the three full days after it to rest up.”
Most analysts don’t like to do it, but do you have a prediction for Thursday night’s game?
CS: “Sure! I’m all about predictions. I’m going to pick the Indianapolis Colts in a 20-16 victory.”
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.