In the NFL, Uncertainty is Certain, Says Phil Simms

The NFL season starts Sept. 6, as the champion Philadelphia Eagles take on the Atlanta Falcons. The game is on NBC.

We spoke with Phil Simms, analyst on CBS’ The NFL Today, about the new season. What does he see as the biggest story of the 2018-2019 season?

“Uncertainty,” said Simms, former quarterback for the New York Giants. “It’s always the same thing--uncertainty. We think we know. We’re gonna find out, we don’t know.”

And the biggest thing we don’t know about this season?

The defending Super Bowl champs. Will the Eagles repeat? Will they implode?

“The quarterback [Carson Wentz] is hurt, coaches are leaving,” said Simms. “Pre-season--you don’t measure much from the pre-season. But that was horrendous.”

The Eagles went 1-3 in the pre-season, their win a one-point squeaker against the Jets, and one of their losses to the Browns, who don’t beat anybody. Cleveland won that one, 5-0. I forget who pitched.

Philly topped New England in the Super Bowl earlier this year, 41-33.

Simms said several teams look like worthwhile Super Bowl competitors. “It’s all a Murderer’s Row now,” he said.

He likes the Patriots, who have “so many good players” and look to be the favorite among AFC teams. He notes how the team lost defensive coordinator Matt Patricia to the Detroit Lions, but its coaching staff is otherwise in place. “They had a guy in place, ready [to replace Patricia],” said Simms. “[Coach Bill Belichick] always has a guy in place.”

CBS has the Super Bowl this season. Jim Nantz, Tony Romo and Tracy Wolfson will lead the broadcast team. Simms appears on The NFL Today alongside Boomer Esiason, Bill Cowher and Nate Burleson. James Brown anchors. The season premiere is September 9.

Simms shrugged off ratings declines for NFL games. “Whose ratings haven’t dropped?” he said, adding that the NFL had the smallest drop of “anything out there.”

He said he’s like many viewers, who record a game, then watch it later, or watch something else.

What else does Simms like to watch? He mentioned Netflix drama Ozark and HBO comedy Veep. “Because I can binge-watch them,” he said.

Simms joined CBS Sports in 1998. He paired with Nantz for 13 seasons as CBS’ lead NFL broadcast team, and shifted to The NFL Today last year.

Being a broadcaster is “probably harder” than being a player, he said. As a player, he focused on one thing. Simms said a broadcaster’s day-to-day is more varied.

How does he improve his craft? “I talk football all year-round, every day,” he said. Simms mentioned following the draft carefully, and going over every rookie player.

He’s got an astute feel for the game, and a knack for talking about it in a cerebral manner. I asked Simms if he ever thought about coaching.

“I’m 62!” he shot back. “Do you think it’s a little too late?”

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.