By Danny Cox
It’s hard to find someone that has more football knowledge than NFL on CBS analyst Chris Simms. Not only did he spend a lot of time on numerous NFL fields, but his father, lead NFL analyst Phil Simms, is a Super Bowl champion. Simms, who will be calling the Jaguars-Titans game, took some time to talk about three big games coming up this weekend in the NFL.
Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions – CBS, Dec. 3 at 8:25p ET
The Green Bay Packers have lost four of five, what happened to their early-season dominance?
Chris Simms: “I think their early dominance was a bit misleading. Aaron Rodgers is a great talent and that talent covers so many holes. Look at their team before the bye week, they struggled in a win against San Francisco, then the Rams the week after that, and then barely beat a bad San Diego Chargers team.
This is not going to change. The offense is not overly creative and they’re not that talented at the skill positions. A lot of weight is on Rodgers’ shoulders and that isn’t going to change as the season goes on.”
Where has this three-game-win-streak Lions team been all season?
CS: “The Lions lost a number of close games early this year. They almost beat the Vikings, Broncos, and should have beaten the Seahawks. They’re a lot better than we give them credit for. Look on the defensive side of the football; their linebacking corps and secondary, not a lot of big names. But they have very good coaches and their front four are very very good.
Haloti Ngata is one of the better defensive tackles in football. Ezekiel Ansah is turning into one of the best defensive ends in the NFL. Biggest thing is that Matthew Stafford is still getting hit, but not as much and they’re protecting the football. Detroit, they won’t have it easy, no matter who the opponent is, but they play hard.”
Aaron Rodgers is criticizing his team’s preparation for games. Is that him acting as their leader or is there starting to be a separation?
CS: “It’s Rodgers as a leader. I’ve dealt with these things, especially when I was the starting quarterback in Tampa back in 2006. We had a new facility with a lounge room that had a lot of video games and distractions in it. You walk in and hope players are watching film or prepping for practice, but they’re playing video games.
The Packers are struggling in all phases and need to focus on the little details. They can’t just go out there and win. Do you think Tom Brady has to get on his team for those things up in New England? No, he doesn’t. Bill Belichick does. This is not Aaron Rodgers’ job. He’s their leader, but he has to focus on his job too and should not have to force his teammates to prepare and be ready to play.”
Has Calvin Johnson slowed down, or has it just been a long season for everyone in Detroit?
CS: “Megatron isn’t Megatron any longer. He’s now Calvin Johnson, and a big reason is that so many defenders focus solely on him and won’t allow him to be great.”
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tennessee Titans – CBS, Dec. 6 at 1p ET
How do you think Marcus Mariota has looked in his rookie season?
CS: “I’ve been extremely impressed. He’s a lot better in the pocket than I gave him credit for coming out of Oregon and he has a really quick release. He throws spirals on every single pass and that makes for easy catches. They simply don’t have a lot of talent around him. The Titans have one of the slowest wide receiving corps in the NFL and they can’t run the ball.
Mariota takes a lot of hits and there is not a true coaching staff in place. He’s going to keep on getting better, but needs help around him.”
Why aren’t the Jaguars using TJ Yeldon more?
CS: “Yeldon is a really good, young, solid NFL running back. He’s not a normal rookie either. Coming out of Alabama, it’s almost like he is a third or fourth-year veteran. The Jaguars have a lot of talent at the wide receiver positions and it’s obvious they want to get a lot of balls out to them.
The main problem is that their offensive line has had a lot of injuries and they can’t consistently open up holes for the running game. Yeldon has nowhere to go and he can’t do it all on his own.”
New York Jets vs. New York Giants – CBS, Dec. 6 at 1p ET
The Jets were looking very strong early this season, but have since fallen apart. What’s been their biggest problem?
CS: “A lot of it comes from a loss of identity on the offensive side of the ball. Should you study the Jets, you won’t really know what they are trying to do. One series is all power football and the next three series are spread offense with no-one in the backfield and constantly passing the ball. They commit a lot of bad turnovers and the defense, in my estimation, is playing way too simple.
They are trying to rely on talent to win games a little too much. Look, the Jets are one of the most talented teams in football, but they’re under-performing. I expect them to beat the Giants though as they’re merely a better team.”
How good can Odell Beckham be?
CS: “Odell Beckham, Amari Cooper, Sammy Watkins, and Mike Evans…the four most talented young wide receivers in football. Cooper and Beckham are two of the top six in all of the NFL.
Beckham has this flat-out speed that is just so special, you have to respect it. Out of that respect, he can hit a lot of slant routes and comebacks. His talent puts fear in defensive backs and that allows him to go over the top. He’s featured in that Giants’ offense and the guy is purely a freak of nature with explosiveness, speed, and overall great ability.”.
Thursday Night Football is on CBS this Thursday and beginning next week (Dec. 10) with Minnesota at Arizona, Thursday Night Football is on the NFL Network for the remainder of the season.
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.