The mission for Matt Simms this week: imitate a future Hall of Famer.
Simms, now in his third year in the league, is the Jets' third-string quarterback and a key member of their scout team. It fell on him this week to provide what he and the coaching staff hopes will be a realistic facsimile of Peyton Manning, the Broncos' starting quarterback and one of the best to ever play the position.
Simms sat down for 20 minutes before practice on Wednesday and watched film as part of his study for the week. He looked for things such as body language, mannerisms at the line of scrimmage and posture plus how Manning delivers the ball so he can give the Jets defense as similar a look as possible heading into this Sunday’s game.
“It’s tough to impersonate because he’s a guy that knows where he is going with the football at any time, versus any look,” Simms told Metro. “The key is trying to show the quick decisions, trying to get rid of the football fast. ... He’s not going to try to hold onto the football and make big plays.”
On Thursday, Simms tried to give more signals than usual at the line. He noted Manning is notorious for making teams stand in their stance for nearly the entire play clock to get a defense on edge.
He joked he may or may not have yelled out “Omaha” once or twice in practice.
“They want me to get the ball out there fast, play fast — make a lot of things happen out there,” Simms said.
“From what I’ve seen on TV and what the stats say, he’s playing some of the best football he’s ever played. He sure has a lot of talent around him too to make some big plays. We’re trying to do our best on the scout team to give a good look of what is to come on Sunday. It’s not easy, he is Peyton Manning after all.”
The role of the scout team quarterback is always important, especially to provide a realistic simulation for the starting defense to get used to their opponent on a Sunday. Sometimes a member of the scout team can give such a good look he receives praise after a game.
Wide receiver Patrick Turner received high marks from head coach Rex Ryan several years ago following a Jets win at Detroit for his role emulating Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson in practice. It did not matter Turner didn’t play a snap in the game, his impact was felt that week in practice.
Simms didn’t start to look at film of Manning until the middle of the week. The focus on Monday and Tuesday was squarely on the Broncos' defense and what they look like. Even though Simms is on the practice squad, he still needs to study the opposing team in case he’s activated for that week’s game.
The first look he took at Manning came on Wednesday.
Simms has become used to playing a variety of different signal-callers. He tried his best to provide a realistic look at the Packers' Aaron Rodgers, who has a completely different skillset than Manning, prior to Week 2.
“For instance, when we played Aaron Rodgers, when there was a four-man rush, he would move in the pocket to make a big play, an extended play,” Simms said. “Whereas this isn’t about that. It’s about see[ing] the defense, where’s the quick option to get the throw out, make the play quickly.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.