Of all the teams in the NFL, wouldn’t you know that rookie quarterback Matt Simms would wind up on the Jets. Of course, he’s the son of Giants great Phil Simms, the MVP of Super Bowl XXI, but even though he’s wearing green, training camp with the Jets has been something of a New Jersey homecoming for Matt, who was an all-state quarterback at Don Bosco Prep.
“It’s been great to be around my hometown area and enjoy the food I’ve grown up loving and seeing old friends,” Simms said Wednesday. “It’s been a nice experience since I’ve been away the past five years in college. I finally get to be back home and enjoying football here again.”
Simms started out at Louisville before transferring to a California junior college and finally settling at Tennessee, where he started eight games as a junior before losing that job and finishing his college career as a backup. Despite that turn of events, the Jets gave him a shot, and Simms is scheduled to share time with third-stringer Greg McElroy in the Jets’ preseason finale Thursday night in Philadelphia.
Jets coach Rex Ryan said he was impressed by Simms’ arm strength during a scrimmage early in training camp and is looking forward to seeing him against the Eagles. Simms smiled when that comment was relayed to him but played it off with the same self-deprecating humor his dad often displayed to reporters in the Giants’ locker room.
“It sounds great when [Ryan] says it to you guys, but when you’re on the practice field as a rookie, you’re messing up a lot,” Simms said. “You’re usually getting yelled at or being corrected. But that’s a great compliment, and I’m truly happy they gave me an opportunity to showcase my skills each day in practice whether it was in drills or whatnot.”
Despite the lack of reps behind starter Mark Sanchez and backups Tim Tebow and McElroy, Simms said he’s learned a lot from offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh. “Now, I just have to go out there and put it on the field,” Simms said.
One reporter kiddingly asked Simms if he was a Jets fan growing up. “Hah,” Simms laughed. Playing along, he added, “Well, I wasn’t a Giants fan growing up, so, that’s good enough for right now.”