Matt Simms says he's learning while being Geno Smith's backup
Matt Simms is just one play away.
At a moment's notice, he can be called to action, filling in on the fly while trying to seamlessly lead a Jets offense in the absence of its starter.
It happened last week against the Bills after defensive tackle Marcell Dareus easily got by Austin Howard and flattened quarterback Geno Smith with one swift helmet hit to the midsection. And in the fourth quarter, Simms was the one closing out the game.
"Football's one of those sports where you're always that one play away -- at any position," Simms said as he sat in front of his locker Friday afternoon. "You never know what's going to happen. Things can change very quickly in this game."
But the beauty of Simms may be the fact that he isn't counting down the days until his next chance. Rather than focus on the opportunities he isn't getting as Smith's backup, Simms is more focused on being thankful for the job he currently has.
"I'm a guy who's really just happy to be here," said the 25-year-old, who went undrafted in 2012. "I wasn't supposed to be here in the beginning of the year. And the fact that I'm still here, the fact that I'm still the No. 2 and the fact that I'm competing against one of my heroes in David Garrard -- that whole experience is fulfilling in its own way."
With every subpar performance of Smith's, the Twitter movement calling for Simms to start grows larger. But Simms -- who proudly points out that he doesn't have any social media accounts -- remains oblivious to the groundswell of support.
He is 7-for-13 for 77 yards and a touchdown (no interceptions) in relief of Smith, who has been benched twice in the past three games. Sixty of those yards came last week against the Bills, a game in which Simms completed a 25-yard pass to Greg Salas and threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Cumberland.
As of now, however, the Jets are committed to Smith, their second-round pick. But they're also sticking with Simms as their No. 2. "Geno's the man," offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said when pressed this past week about Garrard's limited role on offense. "And Mr. Simms has done pretty good and he's earned his spot."
Simms smiled as he recalled his early struggles in Mornhinweg's offense during the summer. "I would kind of fake my way through and say 'OK, I got it. Here we go,' " said the youngest son of former Giants quarterback-turned-broadcaster Phil Simms.
The pressure to always be prepared never ceases, he said. There's always more things left to study. "That constant battle of, 'All right, do I know enough?' -- that's the battle I have with myself every week," Simms said.
"You're always working and trying to get better. And when it does come time to be thrown in there -- kind of like in the Bills game -- at that point, it doesn't matter. It's too late by then," he said, flashing another smile. "So if you're unsure of yourself, you might as well just cut it loose and see what happens."
No longer does he have to fake self-confidence on the field, nor does he need to overthink things. But although he's confident that he has the skills to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, Simms also is content to have the opportunity to learn from Smith's shortcomings.
"A lot of the things that Geno is learning, I'm learning too -- except he's the one who's out there," he said. "That's pretty beneficial to me . . . Aaron Rodgers sat behind Brett Favre for three or four years. So I'm sure he learned a few lessons."