Suddenly, Matt Simms is Mr. Popularity

November, 19, 2013
11/19/13
12:10
PM ET
Matt Simms' NFL résumé consists of 29 snaps and 13 pass attempts, but he was surrounded by reporters Monday in the New York Jets' locker room. He was one of the few players to actually show up during the media period, but his popularity also reflected the beginning stage of a quarterback controversy.

"Obviously, everyone is a fan of the backup quarterback when something goes wrong," Simms said. "I'm very well aware of that."

Simms
Something is going wrong, all right. Geno Smith is playing lousy, and some of the fan base is screaming for Simms to replace him. Rex Ryan said he's sticking with Smith to start Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, but it was a lukewarm endorsement. He mentioned the possibility of giving Simms some first-team reps in practice this week, a clear message to Smith: Don't be too comfortable in your position, kid.

Simms offered his public support to his teammate.

"Quarterback is the toughest position in the world in any sport," said Simms, the son of former New York Giants great Phil Simms. "It's a constant grind. It's tough to be really consistent when you don't have a whole lot of experience, but I think Geno has done a good job of coming back and playing great after games he struggled. He's done that numerous times this year. We all expect him to bounce back and play great against Baltimore."

That's kind of a backhanded compliment, but he's right: Smith has struggled numerous times. He played poorly against the New England Patriots (Week 2), Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals. In each case, he played better the following week -- all victories, not coincidentally. But "better" is a vague description, because he certainly wasn't lights-out in the game following the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati stinkers.

Simms knows the business. It's his family business.

"My father had his fair share of struggles and a lot of fans wanted him to be run out of town, but he kept playing, kept playing hard, kept getting better, kept getting experience," he said. "A few years later, he was Super Bowl MVP."

But that was a different era. Patience in the NFL is a dying virtue.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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