Justin Simmons knows this season is “disappointing” to say the least, but he’s not giving up on giving it his all on the field.
Speaking in an exclusive interview about his Christmas Game Day jersey giveaway, we spoke about the head coach, the Rams game and the final matchups against AFC West rivals.
#Broncos' @jsimms1119 is excited to build on positives and finish the final games on a high note.— Doctor of Words (and tights) (@docllv) December 25, 2022
"We appreciate the diehard #BroncosCountry fans sticking w/ us through better or worse - obviously a lot more worse - but better days are ahead, I promise."https://t.co/z6EIPpVxAE
One thing is very clear. Simmons still loves playing football on this defense, and he’s ready to bring the same energy from the last two weeks today against the Rams.
“I’m really excited [about playing on Christmas],” he said, noting the two teams are similarly beat up on offense, but the challenge remains. “McVay is a really good play caller, and I have so much respect for him. He’s a great head coach, and I’m just really excited for a chance to build on some of the positives we’ve had the past few weeks...to go out there and just show how well we can put it together to come out of that stadium with a win.”
And Simmons isn’t stopping there.
Although the goal for a team is always to win, and although the two final games for the Broncos are going to be two of their toughest this season with the Chiefs at Arrowhead and then the Chargers who will be fighting for a playoff spot, Simmons and the Broncos are absolutely looking to play spoiler.
Because those games aren’t meaningless to him, nor the defense, nor even the entire team.
“The biggest thing is just building on what we’ve been doing, but another wholistic goal, I really want to close out the season, obviously as a team on a high note, but defensively just playing a complete game of solid, sound and clean football,” Simmons said. “Mistakes are bound to happen but we still haven’t really played our best ball. And a chance to do that against two of the best in our division and close out the season on a positive would be awesome.”
Broncos Country has been stunned, frustrated, angry, disappointed - and every emotion in between - over the outcome of a season that was set up to be so much more.
Simmons gets it. He is frustrated too and admitted this season is nothing like what the players thought either, but he’s so appreciative of the diehard fans.
“Yeah, they mean everything. Obviously it's not the year any of us were expecting, especially us [players] since we were here every day seeing the work that was put in - and to fall way short of what we had planned is disappointing to say the least,” Simmons said. “We appreciate all the diehard Broncos Country fans that are sticking with us through better or worse - and obviously there’s a lot more worse, to put it bluntly - but there are better days ahead, and I’m really looking forward to that.”
Simmons noted that Nathaniel Hackett is his fourth head coach in his seven seasons in the NFL.
“That’s a lot of turnover, yeah,” he said.
I didn’t ask him if he wanted Hackett to stay or go - not a fair question in my opinion while still playing games for that coach - but he definitely offered a compliment for how Hackett has handled adversity this season while also noting the difficulty in the locker room getting used to new coaching staffs year after year.
“It’s tough, right. There’s a lot of locker rooms that are player led and the culture is set and when you bring in a new staff, that can change,” he said. “They want to get it right so it’s not necessarily their way or the highway but there’s a lot on the line, and it can get messy when you’re not winning.
“One of the things I’ve appreciated about Coach Hackett is his transparency and, in my opinion, how well he has been leading and taking accountability,” Simmons added, noting players have taken accountability too. “I appreciate him for that because it’s not easy -especially for the season we’ve been having with the expectations - so I appreciate him a lot.”
In spite of the struggles, Simmons sees a lot of growth on this team, as evidenced by the comeback against the Chiefs, despite the loss.
“That was one of the worst starts I’ve been a part of,” he noted. “Down 27- nothing but Josey gets an interception, we score off it. Come right back and then Pat gets an interception and we score off it. A little momentum heading into halftime, and then we score on the first drive and now it’s 27-21. The defense is feeling it and starts playing lights out. ...It definitely showed that when we put it all together, we can be dangerous. We just have to put it all together.”
Here’s to being dangerous on Christmas Day!