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Steven Sims is an under-the-radar name in the NFL. Here's why that'll change in 2020

Steven Sims is an under-the-radar name in the NFL. Here's why that'll change in 2020

Some people — like most Redskins fans, the most desperate fantasy football players and, well, his family — are well aware of who Steven Sims is. 

Once this season comes and goes, however, far more folks will know of, and appreciate, Washington's receiver. That's because he's going to build off a quietly impressive rookie campaign and have a really nice 2020 for the Burgundy and Gold.

And as that's happening — like, for example, when he has six receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown in, say, Week 3 against the Browns, and you're at your buddy's house and he says something like, "Damn, who is this Sims dude?" with a surprised look on his face while you, on the other hand, aren't surprised at all because you read this story, so you just sit there smugly and eat his mediocre dip  — just remember who tipped you off.

OK, now that that's been established, let's explain why this much optimism exists about the 23-year-old's future. 

In 2019, it took Sims a while to crack the lineup. His first head coach, Jay Gruden, had a job to worry about, so even though Gruden made the call for Sims to make the roster coming out of the preseason, giving him real playing time was an entirely different conversation. In Gruden's five games in charge, Sims saw just 52 offensive snaps, and 31 of those came in Week 5 against New England (where he scored his first TD and hinted at his unique explosiveness).

After Gruden was fired, Bill Callahan assumed command and actually showed even less interest in trusting the Kansas product. In the team's next five contests, Sims trotted out with the offense for just 24 plays. Of course, it's not like the Redskins needed another threat during that stretch because they were just rolling their opponents (they scored 17, 0, 9, 9 and 17 points in this span, so the unit was obviously clicking).

Finally, thankfully, fortunately, from Week 12 on, Sims was given a chance to contribute outside of returning kicks and he largely delivered. In the Redskins' last six matchups, Sims caught 23 balls (he had 11 in Weeks 1-11) for 259 yards (compared to the 51 yards he had totaled in the two and a half months before) and four touchdowns.

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If you extrapolate those numbers out to a full schedule, that adds up to a 61-grab, 690-yard effort with a whole bunch of scores. Not bad for an undrafted guy from a basketball school, huh?

It goes beyond the fact that Sims simply produced, too. It was how he produced. Honestly, describing some of the patterns he ran as "lightning quick" would be an insult to the wideout, not the weather phenomenon:

Per Pro Football Focus, Sims was targeted on almost 25-percent of his routes last year, which was the seventh-best output at his position. For those who don't necessarily pay attention to PFF's metrics, that essentially says that Sims was getting open on a regular basis, and Dwayne Haskins rewarded him for that work by going in his direction a ton.

So, there is Sims' first go-round in the NFL summed up in a handful of paragraphs. His overall stats — 34 catches, 310 yards and four scores — don't suggest much, but if you evaluate only when he was truly relied upon, you'll see that's when he peaked and that's when he showed his rare quickness, shiftiness and craftiness.

Those things on their own are reason to expect more out of Sims in 2020. What's even more encouraging is that his skill set is now in the hands of new offensive coordinator Scott Turner.

Turner has already stated that he'll use the best weapons he has on offense regardless of age and experience, so Sims should have plenty of opportunities to thrive beginning in Week 1. That'll be a huge difference from 2019, when he had to bide his time on the sidelines until late November.

Turner's also coming from an offense in Carolina that made a point to quickly get the ball to pass-catchers like Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel and then let them do damage in space. That should also benefit Sims.

To be fair, there are still facets of Sims' game that need to be improved on. He made some very difficult catches as a first-year pro, but as a whole, he needs to be more consistent with his hands. He's always going to be one of the smaller players on the field, meanwhile, so he'll have to continue to refine the ways in which he creatively finds space since he'll never really do so with his physicality.  

As long as Sims sharpens those aspects and adapts well to Turner's scheme, though, he's going to keep shining. He just is.

His rookie rise coincided with the part of the Redskins' season where nearly everyone had tuned out, so most people aren't fully aware of what he can do yet. But that will change, and soon. 

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One analyst explains why Redskins' financial value won't decrease with name change

One analyst explains why Redskins' financial value won't decrease with name change

As it stands now, the Washington Redskins are one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world. According to Forbes, the team is worth a whopping $2.2 billion-- the 14th most-valuable franchise in all of sports, and the fifth most valuable team in the NFL.

With the team currently conducting an internal review of the moniker, it's worth wondering if a new name would hurt the value of the team. According to Randy Vataha -- the president of Game Plan LLC., which helps the service of helping people buy and sell sports franchises -- it shouldn't.

"I don't think it will really hurt the team's value ultimately," Vataha said to NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay.

Vataha explained that each franchise's actual name has little to do with its value.

"We're big believers and have a lot of data that indicates that yes, branding is important, yes, names are important in a lot of ways, but what's really important is the size and the demographics of the market," Vataha said.

The analyst gave the example of New York sports franchises, such as the Knicks and Rangers, and how they are consistently two of the most valuable teams in all of sports. Why? Because they play in New York City.

"The New York teams are all the top teams in every league," Vataha said. "The NFL is a little different because of how they share revenue, but the New York teams are always at the top, not because of the names of the teams. It's because of the marketplace.

"You'll have a lot of people, you'll have a lot of social media, you'll have a lot of political commentary back and forth," Vataha continued. "But at the end of the day, the core value is decided by the size of the market and the demographics of the market."

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This past week, a report surfaced from the Washington Post that the Redskins three minority owners were looking to sell their stake in the team, citing that they were "not happy being a partner" with Redskins majority owner Dan Snyder. The three minority owners -- Fred Smith, Dwight Schar and Robert Rothman -- make up approximately 40 percent of the team's ownership group.

Vataha said he understands both sides of the argument surrounding the team. Additionally, he said that the safest financial decision for the team would be to keep the name, despite all the public backlash they've received over the past couple of weeks.

RELATED: VATAHA DOESN'T BELIEVE SNYDER WILL BE FORCED OUT

However, immediately after, Vataha emphasized once more that he doesn't envision the name change truly making a big difference value-wise.

"I understand the arguments on both sides pretty well," Vataha said. "But I think from the financial standpoint, the safest thing is never change it. But, on the other hand, I don't think it'll be a big hit to value any way at all."

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Fred Smoot laughs at Asante Samuel's dig at Darrell Green: 'Darrell will always be cornerback royalty'

Fred Smoot laughs at Asante Samuel's dig at Darrell Green: 'Darrell will always be cornerback royalty'

On July 4, former NFL cornerback Asante Samuel got the Twitter-sphere and Redskins nation fired up when he sent out a tweet questioning what was so special about former Washington defensive back Darrell Green, who is a Hall-of-Famer.

Though Tony Dungy and others chimed in to show Samuel what he was missing, the 11-year veteran couldn't quite grasp why his statement was so surprising. Samuel's argument was based on the fact that in a career that spanned two decades, Green "only" had 54 interceptions to show for it.

RELATED: ASANTE SAMUEL QUESTIONS DARRELL GREEN'S GREATNESS

For former Redskins defensive back Fred Smoot, Samuel's claim that the numbers dictated who Green was as a player is just wrong. Smoot, who played two seasons alongside Green, believes Samuel was a victim of not understanding how football has changed over the years.

In modern times, a pass-heavy league not only makes interceptions more common but makes the stat a way to grade defensive backs. When Green dominated the field, the league didn't play out the same way.

“First of all, Darrell played in a league that ran the ball most of the time," Smoot said on NBC Sports Washington's Redskins Talk and Friends. "Second of all, he took on the number one receiver all the time. They never threw balls his way."

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Because the NFL wasn't as pass-heavy back in the 80s and 90s, Green didn't have a wild number of interceptions to show for his success. But, that didn't mean he wasn't making an impact and performing as one of the best at the position. As Smoot explains, Green would excel in numerous categories that sometimes don't show up on paper.

“Darrell did more than just intercept the ball, he shut down one side of the field, actually return a lot of punts, scored a lot on defense. And he tackles well, all-around defensive back," Smoot said. 

Another stellar trait of Green's was his speed. Though there are no official measures of his 40-yard times back when he played, there are reports that it hovered in the 4.1-area, giving him a reputation as one of the fastest players in football. Even at age 50, he casually ran a 4.43. That speed was valuable on the field, as he could stick with any receiver and chase down players from behind.

Smoot saw the speed first-hand, even when Green was getting toward the end of his career at the age of 41. He recalled racing Green during practice, and even though Smoot was nearly 20 years younger, he couldn't keep up.

“I raced that old man and lost to that old man," Smoot said. "Right then I was about to retire from football. I was about to throw my cleats away.”

Green may not have averaged a large interception total, but that stat is only a small part of his NFL career. As Smoot showed, there was so much more brilliance to him as a player. That's why, to Smoot, Green's name always comes up when discussing the best at the position.

“You want to talk about one of the best cornerbacks of all time? That’s how the list starts out. Deon Sanders, Darrell Green, so and so," Smoot said. "Darrell will always be, how should I say, cornerback royalty.”

Green also has a bust in Canton to show for his work.

“I don’t have to say anything about Darrell Green, he’s a Hall-of-Famer for a reason," Smoot said. 

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