New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick served as the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants when Phil Simms served as quarterback. Simms became the top color commentator for CBS and often met with Belichick over the coach’s tenure with the Patriots. The two forged a friendship over the years, so Belichick was naturally sad to see Simms benched for the rookie commentator Tony Romo.
Belichick spoke with the media at length on Friday about how he and Simms developed a relationship, what Simms brought to the booth for CBS, and how their familiarity benefit the fans at home.
“I think Phil did a great job and I always enjoyed Phil,” Belichick said. “Even though I never really coached Phil, Phil was the quarterback and I was the defensive coordinator. We talked a lot. We had, I thought, a real good relationship with the Giants. We talked a lot about coverages and schemes and what do you see and how can I help you, how can you help me type of thing. Phil was great that way, and he’s very knowledgeable.
“Phil was a very knowledgeable player that even things like the kicking game – which as a quarterback, you’re not really a part of – Phil was always interested in. I actually involved him in it in different things, facets of that when I was with the Giants. Even though Phil throws the ball right-handed, everything else he does in his life is left-handed, including punt. So, when we had the great right-footed punters at the Giants, Dave Jennings and Sean Landeta, when we went up against a left-footed punter, Phil was my go-to guy there. So, things like that that he was always very accommodating and helpful, but he always had an interest in it, too.
“So, I thought he – honestly, I didn’t hear a lot of the games that he did for us, but I heard other games that he did and I always thought he gave a lot of great insight into the game, not just from a quarterback’s perspective but from a team standpoint. So, yeah, I do miss seeing him multiple times during the season when he would have our games.”
“I’d say when we had those meetings,” Belichick added, “sometimes when you do say like a Fox crew who only does our one game a year – ‘How are you using your tight ends? How’s this guy rotating in? What’s this guy’s role? Where does he play?’ It wasn’t like that with those guys. They saw enough games that they knew kind of what everybody’s role was, what this guy played because somebody else was hurt, this guy played because you used a different package that week, and so forth.
“So, that part of it I’d say they were very on top of, probably as much as any TV crew we’ve had. It would be more specific to, ‘Alright, what are you going to do this week? How are you going to handle this? How are you going to handle that? What do you think of this part of their game or how are you going to attack that part?’ So, it was much more specific, not that I don’t get those from other crews, but I would say there wasn’t the, ‘Who’s your backup slot receiver?’ They knew who that was.”
But for all the love that Belichick has for Simms, he believes that CBS is in good hands with Tony Romo now at the helm, because the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback has a thirst for knowledge and a good ability to share smart football insight.
“Tony, I’d say, is similar [to Simms],” Belichick said. “A very inquisitive guy with a good history of the game. He’s asked a lot of questions about when I was with the Giants or the ‘70s or the ‘80s or Tom Landry or so forth. He’s pretty knowledgeable for a player that wasn’t in that era that he knows a lot about it and has obviously read and studied it.
“He sees a lot of things – a lot of fine points of a defensive scheme or a play that, I’d say, a lot of guys that I talk to don’t – and asks about those and, ‘What was this guy reading on this and why did this guy do that and was this guy’s job on this play to do something that is kind of subtle?’ He picks up on those things and, I’d say, asks a lot of very detailed, coaching, technical-type questions that you don’t get in a lot of those meetings. But, he’s good. I’ve enjoyed working with him.”
Romo and Jim Nantz will call the Patriots game against the Buffalo Bills for the 4th time this season. In my opinion, Romo is the best color commentator for CBS and is extremely enjoyable to listen to.