Atlanta Legends quarterback Matt Simms (4) makes a pass attempt in the first half of an AAF football game between the Atlanta Legends and the San Diego Fleet, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019, at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego, Calif. (Peter Joneleit / Associated Press)
Photo: Peter Joneleit/AP
Photo: Peter Joneleit/AP

Simms a steady hand for Legends

The Atlanta Legends have played as many games (two) as they have had months together as a team, but one player who is holding things together for the fledgling franchise is former Falcons and Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Matt Simms.

“He has taken ownership of his role on the offense as a leader and a captain. On the field, he is often times like a coach,” coach Kevin Coyle said of Simms.

Matt Simms has football in his blood. His father is Phil Simms, former Super Bowl-winning quarterback of the New York Giants and current CBS broadcaster. His brother Chris also played in the NFL, starting 16 games across five seasons with Tampa Bay, Tennessee and Denver.

Matt never started a game in the NFL, but he was a member of several rosters and practice squads, including a stint with the Falcons, which ended in September 2017. He did play in four regular-season games in 2013 and 2014.

Simms’ experiences around football have come in handy, though. After Brad Childress left the Legends during the preseason, a new coaching staff had to take over. The change left Coyle, a former defensive coordinator, as the head coach. 

Beyond offensive-minded Childress, the Legends also lost former Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, who was supposed to be the offensive coordinator. After their departures, the offense became run-by-committee, with quarterbacks coach Rich Bartel calling plays and Simms also given plenty of responsibility.

“He’s an extension of the offensive coaches, correcting guys and making sure they know what’s going on,” Coyle said.

The Legends are 0-2 in their first games as a member of the Alliance of American Football, and Simms’ numbers have been as underwhelming as the team’s play. In road losses to the Orlando Apollos and the San Diego Fleet, Simms completed 32 of his 53 pass attempts for 286 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

“He’s played OK in the first two games, but not to the level that I know he can. His game last week was better than the first week,” Coyle said. “This week, I think he’ll take another step forward from where he was last week.”

Simms beat out former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray for the starting job. Simms denied any sort of SEC-fueled competition beyond the football field. 

“I’m just competing with myself every day. I really don’t care about Tennessee-Georgia. We are past that at this point,” Simms said of the position battle.

The Legends’ first home game will be at 4 p.m. Sunday at Georgia State Stadium against the Birmingham Iron.

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