- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Earlier this week, Matt Simms was recognized at the mall. That's happened in the past, but usually he's asked if he's the son of former Giants quarterback Phil Simms and then asked if he can tell his dad they said hi.
But this week, after he came into the Buffalo game and threw his first NFL touchdown to Jeff Cumberland, Simms was recognized on his merits.
"She said 'Oh, are you a Jets quarterback?,' and I was like, 'Yes ma'am," Simms said. "Even though she didn't know who I was, she knew what I did, and that was good enough for me."
Simms, or Mr. Simms as offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg referred to him Thursday, has retained his position on the merits as well. David Garrard may have more experience than Simms and starter Geno Smith combined, but the Jets have stuck by Simms as the backup.
What that means is that every time Smith takes a hit, as he did early against Buffalo, Simms sucks in his breath and puts on his helmet.
"If you're in a two-deep rotation, there's this constant alertness in case something should happen and you do have to take over," Simms said. "You don't want to not know something and leave a chance for embarrassment really, embarrassing for yourself, for your team, for the other guys on the field. So I try to stay on top of everything as much as I can so when I get in the huddle with Willie Colon and Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson, I need to be able to know everything and be in control."
The upside to doing well is generally another couple of weeks on the sidelines, because any move beyond that would be a tough transition for a team even if it could be personally beneficial. Simms said he's been encouraged by the success of former backups like Josh McCown when they get their chances.
"Those guys, secretly they're my heroes," Simms said.
Simms has had just enough success to win a sizable fan base among the Jets faithful but Simms, who isn't on Twitter, takes that with a grain of salt.
"It's tough sledding," Simms said of being a backup. "We're always the most popular guy when something goes wrong. But when you're a starter you get all the credit for the wins and too much blame for the losses."