John Simon Has A Head Start On Patriots’ Culture, Learning Defense


September 27, 2018

FOXBORO, Mass. — It won’t be easy for John Simon to catch up and contribute with the New England Patriots after joining the team three weeks into the 2018 season. But the defensive end at least has a head start from his three years with the Houston Texans.

Simon played for Patriots South (or is that the Tennessee Titans?) from 2014 to 2016 with Romeo Crennel as his defensive coordinator and Mike Vrabel as his position coach. Crennel was the Patriots’ defensive coordinator from 2001 to 2004, and Vrabel played in New England from 2001 to 2008.

“In Houston with Vrabel, Romeo Crennel, a lot of those guys were here before, so I kind of know the culture, and that’s helped me out a little bit,” Simon said Thursday.

It helps that the defenses in New England and Houston share concepts.

?It?s similar to some of the same things I?ve done in the past in a 3-4 scheme in Houston,? Simon said. ?A lot of similarities with some former Patriot guys there, so that?s definitely a plus in helping me catch up a little bit.?

It’s not identical, however.

“There’s definitely new terminology and everyone tweaks their defense to a certain way,” Simon said. “A lot of studying for me, and hopefully I’ll be ready.”

Simon is listed with the Patriots as a defensive end, but he’s mostly played outside linebacker during his five seasons in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens, Texans and Indianapolis Colts. All three of those teams ran a base 3-4. The Patriots run a hybrid defense with 3-4 and 4-3 concepts. Simon likely will play standing up on the line of scrimmage, rushing the passer and setting the edge.

Not to be too on the nose, but he’s a player with a skill set in the vein of Vrabel and Rob Ninkovich. Vrabel and Ninkovich didn’t pan out in previous stops then struck gold in New England.

Simon admitted to being surprised he was cut by the Colts earlier this month. He had 2 1/2 sacks in three preseason games then was let go in favor of Tarell Basham, Margus Hunt, Jabaal Sheard, Kemoko Turay, Ryan Delaire and Tyquan Lewis. The Colts later waived Delaire, claimed Al-Quadin Muhammad, signed Jihad Ward and placed Lewis on injured reserve. The Colts switched to a 4-3 system under new defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. That could have played into their decision to cut Simon.

“I think football is football,” Simon said. “Players know how to make plays and guys who know how to get to the ball usually end up at the ball. It could have been a scheme fit thing. It’s their decision to make. It’s nothing I can dwell on. I’m looking forward to the Dolphins this week.”

The Patriots have struggled to rush the passer and set the edge in the run game in consecutive losses as they’ve started the season 1-2 for the first time since 2012. Simon could be an upgrade over young edge defenders like Derek Rivers and Keionta Davis.

Thumbnail photo via Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports Images
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