• August 16, 2022

Sims Must Be Taught How To Become A Big-Play Linebacker

From what I know about former Detroit Lions linebacker and now Philadelphia Eagle,  Ernie Sims, this looks like a good deal for the Birds.

Here you have a guy who is still young at 25 and he has first round talent, yet the Birds were able to acquire him for only a fifth round pick.

Sims has all the athletic ability needed to be a great player, but obviously something has been missing.

Despite being so young, Sims has already played four years in the league.¬† His body has some mileage on it because he’s been forced to miss games due to shoulder and hamstring injuries.

I’m sure the Eagles have looked those injuries over and expect him to be able to stay on the field.

He’s being brought here to start at the Will linebacker position, which is the linebacker who lines up away from the tight end side.¬†¬† It is the position which needs to produce more big plays for the Eagles defense.

The Will linebacker gets opportunities to make big hits.¬† They’re sent on blitzes and they have to cover speedy running backs out of the backfield.¬† They drop into zone coverages and have plenty of opportunities to make big plays.

Sims can run with the best of them,¬† plus he’s as quick as a cat and a sure tackler.¬†¬† He’s also willing to play with reckless abandon.

He has the athleticism to be a great run defender as well as an outstanding cover guy versus the pass but right now he has absolutely no stats to show for it.  He has only one interception, three forced fumbles and 2.5 sacks in his four-year career.

For a guy with his athletic ability, that’s nothing to be proud of and it tells me, he doesn’t know and hasn’t been learning the intricacies of¬† the NFL game as the years go by.

The Eagles need Sims to become a big play linebacker and he has the physical ability to do just that, but he must be taught how to study video of his opponents and mentally prepare for a game.

Sims needs to learn to better anticipate what the offense is going to do.  You force fumbles with good aggressive tackling and the ability to anticipate what and how the offense is going to attack you.

He must learn how to get in the mind of the offensive coordinator and his players,¬† if he’s going to put himself in position to make a hit or strip a split-second sooner than expected.

Sims needs to learn that all offensive coordinators have confidence in certain players and specific plays in certain situations.  They all have a specific philosophy of how to attack a defense.

He must learn how to decipher this information from studying the opposition on tape.¬† He should start keeping a book on offensive coordinators and quarterbacks because they’re the brain trust of an offense.

These guys don’t change when they take their philosophy from one team to another.

If he does his homework before the season and before a game, he will learn what offensive coordinators and quarterbacks are  going to do when they get in trouble.  What play does the offensive coordinator go to on 3rd and long or 3rd and short?

Does the quarterback look to a certain receiver when he gets in trouble?  Does he have a favorite guy on 3rd down or on the goalline?

Is it a play that he most relies on in these situations?

Does the quarterback give away screens or draws by the way he drops from center?

What formation do they like to run certain plays out of?  Is there a side the offensive coordinator favors running to because of a great offensive lineman?  Is there a player OC likes to get the ball to in those situations?

Doing his homework means knowing this information about an opponent like he knows the back of his hand.¬† The more tape he looks at the more he’ll get a feel or how they’re going to attack him.

Turnovers are caused when you know this information because it  allows you to anticipate what your opponent is going to do and that enables you to get to ball carriers or receivers before they expect you to get there.

Sims can learn to study an opponent enough to the point where he’ll be able to smell a screen by the way the offense comes out of the huddle and the way a running back fakes like he’s pass blocking.

This is how you cause fumbles and get  interceptions.  Big plays have more to do with the mind than the body.  It takes young players a while to learn this.

In college Sims was able to¬† cause turnovers and dominate because he was bigger, faster and tougher than his opponents.¬† That doesn’t work on the NFL level because everybody’s bigger, faster and tougher.

The magic of forcing turnovers on the NFL level is taking the information you obtain from video study, combining it with your athletic ability and forming a plan of ways attack the offense.

Right now Sims has the athletic ability to get the job done but he’s got to combine it with the mental aspect of the game.

Sean McDermott and his coaches must teach him how to put it all together.

Hopefully he will learn along with the rest of the Eagles young linebackers because they all need to do a better job of studying and anticipating how offenses are going to attack them.

Sims will be working with  Stewart Bradley in the middle and Moises Fokou or Akeem Jordan at the Sam linebacker spot.

I know they’re spending plenty of time lifting weights and running during the off season, but they must also spend sufficient time in the video room learning the mental aspect of the game.

We’ll know whether Sims and his counterparts did their homework when the lights are turned on in the Fall.


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  • Basically, Chris Gocong for Ernie Sims. How can you say that without smiling? If Roseman has to earn his stripes before he’s respected by fellow GM’s, trades like this will expedite the process.

  • G on a side note,
    Have you ever assisted or been asked by the Eagles in coaching/teaching some good techniques to
    some of these younger LB’s on the Eagles… It seems like a no brainer to have an experienced player with many years experience like yourself to come in and help teach some fundamental techniques as tackling,shedding blockers,stripping the ball, breaking down videos,etc,etc, during some of these camps
    (if your schedule would allow that is..)

  • Yea G, I can’t remember the last time the Eagles had a linebacker that was a “playmaker”. Maybe this is because of coaching or because they haven’t drafted a linebacker in the first round since the 1970’s? Has Andy always had the same linebackers coach?

  • Sims was a serious playmaker at Florida State where they have a great defense in place. When he went to Detroit they have had so much change, nobody could get used to something like that. There is also not much in the way of playmakers in Detroit, so a lot was on his shoulders to make plays with nothing in front of him. The Detroit Lion’s defense has also been on the field almost 2 games longer than the closest team. A ridiculous amount of time on the field. For that stat alone, I am impressed he has only had minor problems. In the 4 years, he has only missed a handful of games in 2009. He is pretty durable in my eye. For such a lousy defense, he still put up pretty decent numbers. The Eagles got a steal with Sims and will anchor the Weakside for a long time I believe. Now, if we could get a playmaker like Spikes out of Florida, I will be happy at LB.

  • I still say that the real key to our linebacker play this year is the return from injury and health of Bradley. If he can return to a similar form, Jordan or Fokuo at SAM and Sims at WILL we can have one of the better linebacking corps in the NFC East.

    Of course, if we do not have a D-line that can occupy the offensive linemen and keep them off of the linebackers it can cause problems also. The good thing to see is that it appears the front office has recognized the need to address the problems on defense. I like the fact that they are looking at trading for experienced players, and not just counting on rookies stepping in and filling the need immediately. Optimisim is always present in April before the draft and long before the first hit of the season.

  • With all due respect to G, how about Seth coming back to tutor the linebackers?

  • Greenfan – sounds like you recall the ‘body bag’ game where Seth destroyed the ‘skins.

  • that is a memory that brings a smile 🙂

    those were some great defensive teams, and a real strong linebacking corp, Seth and Byron Evans in the middle.

  • Greenfan and Enzone:
    Unfortunately I remember the home playoff game when the ‘Skins beat us after that “body bag” game. I always shake my head about those games. And Dick Vermeil, of all people, called Byner’s fumble a non-fumble when his entire body fell on the ball. It is one of the most difficult memories of my life. Buddy Ryan was fired the next day. Frank Dolson ran a story in the Inquirer, by Mark Bowden, about the Eagles gambling on the plane rides home from away games. I can never respect Bowden, despite “Black Hawk Down”. Gambling on the plane ride home? And it was FRONT PAGE!
    G, I remember another number 50 that played linebacker from Detroit. A Pro-Bowler who came to this town and established himself with his smarts and hitting ability. I will always go to him (you) first when I need football information. I’ll be keeping an eye on Sims, but you, like it or not, have ownership about this guy’s future, I reckon.

  • The guy must lack football inteligence and will have to be tutored. I hope he can learn.

  • G. One article a week. One great article a week keeps me coming back. Great job on this one.

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