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:
Steven Sims went from undrafted to unguardable. 💯 @StevenSimsJr @Redskins pic.twitter.com/cf025rgmVv— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) December 31, 2019
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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