Last season when the Broncos allowed players to wear sweats while traveling to away games near the end of the season, Justin Simmons couldn’t do it.
As Vic Fangio noted, “he’s a classy suit-wearer.”
Because for Simmons, success is a mindset. And you always wear your best suit when you plan to succeed.
Which is exactly what he was planning today when he sported a classy three-piece brown suit at Dove Valley, speaking to the press for the first time since becoming the NFL’s highest paid safety with a four-year, $61 million deal.
“You want to just be where you’re wanted, and obviously, I was wanted here,” Simmons said. “I wanted to be here and I’m just so thankful.”
Justin Simmons says he didn’t have a problem being franchise tagged a second time because he knew he wanted to be here. Said first time George Paton called him, he knew he wasn’t going anywhere. #Broncos— George Stoia III (@GeorgeStoia) March 22, 2021
New Broncos GM George Paton laid out a litany of reasons for exactly why he wanted to keep Simmons when he joined the team.
A third-round pick in 2016, Simmons became an All-Pro and Pro Bowl safety.
“He as all the tools to be the very best—smart, instinctive, athletic, rangy. He’s a natural ballhawk,” Paton said, noting Simmons’ 20 career interceptions. “And he’s just scratching the surface.”
But Simmons’ off-field work and locker room leadership were among the things that separate him from just being a really good safety.
“ff the field, Justin is equally impressive. Two-time Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee. That is extremely rare,” Paton added. “His work in the community is a big part of who he is...It’s something we’re incredibly proud of, and as an organization, it’s something we embrace.”
Simmons on what he’s going to buy: “First thing is get my daughter some hot chocolate.” Said he told her that if she was good during the press conference today she could get some hot chocolate.— Michael Spencer (@MichaelCBS4) March 22, 2021
He also added that he’s looking forward to being able to give more to the community.
To his coach, Simmons has another invaluable quality - he makes other players around him better.
“It’s one thing to find really good players, which Justin is. That’s hard enough,” Fangio said. “But then when you’re able to quarterback your secondary and help quarterback your defense, now you’ve become a multiplier. You’re helping other guys become better. Those players are hard to find.”
But the Broncos have found him, and he’s locked in for another four years - during which time Simmons plans to turn losing seasons into winning ones.
“There’s a lot of things I could do individually to get better...What I’m really looking forward to is finding a way for the team’s success,” Simmons said, noting his opportunity to push guys offensively, help guys compete to their highest level, leading the team to wins and not just close losses. “I’m just excited because I know that kind of falls on my shoulders as a leader on this team and on the defense. I’m just excited for it. I’ve never been one to shy away from opportunity and this is a big one. I’m ready for it.”
He’s also ready for his new defensive back teammates to help round out a top secondary. With the additions of Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller, Simmons has high expectations.
“We’re set up to make something happen, and once again, that’s going to fall on my shoulders as the leader in the secondary,” he said, “and I’m going to make sure that whatever happens week in, week out, the secondary is going to be good to go and we’re going to compete at the highest level.”
Justin Simmons: Joining the franchise legacy of great safeties in the Ring of Fame — Gonsoulin, Atwater, Dennis Smith, John Lynch — is something that is a priority & a goal. “By no means am I close to reaching that goal, but it’s something that I strive for all the time."— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) March 22, 2021
A lot of analysts have made a big deal about Fangio’s defense and particularly the importance of the safety and cornerback play in his scheme.
That could be because Fangio knows how much more important safeties have become in today’s NFL now that consistent use of a fullback is no more and offenses are relying on three wide receivers or two tight ends more and more.
“To have safeties that can play the deep part of the field is important, but also having safeties that when we want to bring them down and cover one of those three wide receivers or a really good tight end, that’s part of the job description too now,” Fangio added. “It happens more often. The game is wide open and played not on a bigger field, per se, but the ball spreads around the field more than it used to.”
But perhaps the best news for Fangio is that both he and Simmons realize that No. 31 is still poised to improve.
“The exciting thing is I think he can even get better,” Fangio said. “He’s definitely young enough to get better, he’ll work to get better, and we’ll do a better job of coaching him. I think he still has better football to be seen by everybody moving forward, and we’re looking forward to that.”
And then there’s also the suit.
“Obviously, he’s a great dresser,” Fangio noted Monday as an additional bonus to getting a great player. “You guys can see it there.”