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Turning Isaiah Simmons Penalty Into Teaching Moment

Flag against Cam Newton shouldn't remove rookie's aggressiveness

There are many, many things that could be discussed when it came to the Patriots' third-and-13 conversion against the Cardinals last weekend, as well as the 15-yard penalty rookie linebacker Isaiah Simmons was flagged for at the end of the play after hitting Patriots quarterback Cam Newton. It was a stop the Cards needed, and getting to Newton earlier would've prevented the position Simmons was in at the end.

But all that is over. Now, defensive coordinator Vance Joseph just wants to take what happened and make Simmons a better player because of it.

"Isaiah obviously thought he was still on the grass," defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said. "Our coaching point to Isaiah was don't stop being aggressive, but obviously lower your target and wrap on your tackles. That's our job, to coach Isaiah and to get clarity from the official of what he called."

Replays showed Newton was still inbounds when Simmons hit him. Ultimately, the "clarity" Joseph got was that the flag was for lowering the helmet to initiate contact, the second time Simmons was flagged for such a violation in the game.

"Once we got that clarity, then we can help Isaiah get better," Joseph said. "Isaiah is so big, so fast, with that much space between him and that quarterback, it's going to be a big collision. With his speed and size, he has hit people hard. We have to teach him how to lower his target and to wrap and squeeze the tackle. Because when he is not wrapping, it looks more violent than it should look. It's legal, but it looks really violent."

Simmons dropped to play deep safety on the play, so he came at Newton from 15 yards away when he started his sprint. (It probably didn't help it was on the Patriots sideline.)

"In this league, if it looks violent and it looks overaggressive, they are going to call it," Joseph said. "That's what we are dealing with playing defense in this league. I thought Isaiah played aggressive and he has to continue to play aggressive."