The New England Patriots’ defensive masterminds are quite pleased with the performance of edge rusher John Simon, who’s quietly impressed since landing in Foxboro earlier this season.
Simon, a six-year veteran who spent last season with the Indianapolis Colts, had one of his better games as a Patriot in Sunday’s 34-33 loss to the Miami Dolphins, sacking Ryan Tannehill on third-and-1 early in the fourth quarter and also tallying a tackle for loss.
“Johnâs been really a great addition to our team (and) obviously played real well last week,” Flores, the Patriots’ linebackers coach and de facto defensive coordinator, said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters. “Heâs really developed and grown over the course of the season. He got banged up early and then, I would say, over the last three, four weeks has gotten healthy and really done a good job of just bringing energy to the team.
“Heâs got a great skillset, does a good job with his pass rush, does a good job setting the edge, plays with good speed, good energy. Heâs been a solid contributor to the team and weâre happy to have him.”
Simon flashed in his Patriots debut (sack, tackle for loss, five tackles in New England’s first meeting with Miami) but suffered a shoulder injury the following game that sidelined him for three weeks. He returned to action in the team’s Week 8 win over the Buffalo Bills and has seen his role grow over the last three weeks, playing more than 30 percent of defensive snaps against the New York Jets, Minnesota Vikings and Dolphins.
In addition to his traditional edge duties, Patriots have used Simon as part of the amoeba (or “playground”) package they debuted against the Vikings, which features seven or eight linebackers and defensive backs constantly moving and shifting behind one down lineman.
“Johnâs done a really good job for us since heâs come in here,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “He’s picked things up very quickly, contributed for us right away defensively and in the kicking game. Heâs really done a solid job. Heâs experienced, smart and has very good football instincts. Heâs got good awareness.
“Even though he hasnât had as much experience in our system as some other people have, his instinctiveness to kind of just do the right thing on the football field at the right time consistently keeps showing up. Heâs been a great addition. Iâm glad we have him.”