Sims: 'Quickness and Speed, the Name of My Game'
By Lance Epstein
A day after acquiring linebacker Ernie Sims from the Detroit Lions as part of a three-team trade, Sims flew to Philadelphia and had his introductory press conference.
One of the first things that the new starting weak-side linebacker stated was that he might not be the biggest, most intimidating linebacker or even a prototypical linebacker in the NFL, but his speed will make him very affective for his new squad.
"Quickness and speed, the name of my game," Sims said. "I'm not the biggest linebacker ... (I'm) 6-feet, maybe 6-feet, and 225 (pounds) is my natural weight, but I feel very explosive and I feel very quick and fast.
"And speed, I take pride in that because it runs in my family."
That comment might have been the best statement in his entire press conference. At the 2006 NFL Combine, he ran an official 4.50 40-yard dash, but he reiterated that he has run a 4.38 before while he was at Florida State.
Besides Sims being fast, his family has a long tradition of bringing the speed into athletics. His mother, Alice attended Florida State and was an All-American track and field star at FSU. While his dad played under head coach Bobby Bowden at Florida State.
Another topic that Sims discussed was about his role with the Eagles and how his new defensive coordinator Sean McDermott would utilize his speed.
"I had a chance to talk with the linebackers coach, coach Shuey, and he just told me that they want to put me at the WILL position," Sims said. "I knew that they liked blitzing a lot, and they said on third down they're going to need somebody to cover tight ends.
"Being in a (division) where they have some good tight ends with (Jason) Witten and (Chris) Cooley, I'm more than welcome and excited to be in that position and I feel like I can fit in and do a great job with that.
Still, Sims restated that blitzing and being a downhill player is the way the Eagles envision using his skills. Sims added he would do what ever it takes to flourish in the scheme.
"Thy talked to me about blitzing and also, in the running game, being downhill and making some big plays," Sims said. "Like I told coach, whatever positions you put me in, I'm very excited to do it."
While Sims admitted that he has not played a lot of coverage against tight ends with the Lions or pretty much since his college days, but he says he is equipped to do the job.
"There's definitely not a lot of tight ends out there that can run away from me," he said.
Like yesterday during his conference call, Sims spoke being at a 100 percent and improving his craft, so that he could be a difference maker with the Eagles. One thing he knows is that he cannot afford to get blocked by bigger offensive linemen since he is undersized.
"When an offensive lineman's trying to get their hands on me, I've been working on it for years, not to let them get their hands on me because it's game over if they can get their hands on me," he said. "I've been working really hard about shedding blocks and getting to the ball as fast as I can.
Regardless of his size, he knows players around the league, mainly fullbacks, do not envy going up against his high motor style of play.
"I fit right in at linebacker though. I'm undersized, but at the same time, there (are) not a lot of fullbacks that want to mess with me."
Certainly, Sims is an undersized and smallish, but his speed is rare for a linebacker. If Eagles linebackers coach Bill Shuey can work his magic like he did with Stewart Bradley, Moise Fokou and even Akeem Jordan (early this season before leg injury), the Eagles might have pulled off one of the best deals of Andy Reid's era.
Remember, early in Reid's career, the Eagles snatched defensive end Hugh Douglas from the Jets. Like Sims, he impressed in the early years of his career by recording 18 sacks in two seasons.
Then again like Sims, Douglas had a poor season where he did not fit into Bill Parcels system and had only four sacks. As every Eagles fan knows, he went onto be a perennial Pro Bowl caliber defensive end. Hopefully, the Eagles have managed to come away another gem.