Jason Simmons, a 10-year NFL veteran as a player, enters his seventh season with the Packers and his third as assistant special teams coach. The 2017 season marks Simmons’ fourth season assisting special teams.
Simmons was named to his current position on Feb. 12, 2015, after one season as a defensive/special teams assistant, where he worked closely with special teams and spent much of his time tutoring perimeter players on the various coverage and return teams. In 2014, he also assisted with the defensive backs, helping the Green Bay defense finish ninth in the NFL in both sacks (41) and takeaways (29).
Simmons and Zook utilized a high number of players on special teams in 2016 and integrated P Jacob Schum into the special-teams operation. Schum’s 39.1-yard net average was the second best by a Packer since 1976. Schum also set a franchise postseason record with a 66-yard punt at Dallas (Jan. 15). Simmons helped K Mason Crosby register 122 points, his 10th consecutive season with 100-plus points. Crosby finished the season 26 of 30 on field-goal attempts (86.7 pct.), his fourth consecutive season above 80 percent and the fifth of his career.
As he assisted Zook in 2015, Simmons saw Crosby surpass K Ryan Longwell for No. 1 on the all-time franchise scoring list and P Tim Masthay set a franchise record (since 1976) with a 40.3-yard net punting average. Simmons made an impact on the coverage unit, helping WR Jeff Janis (15) and S Chris Banjo (21) post career highs in special teams tackles. Simmons also helped his unit ascend in the special-teams rankings by the Dallas Morning News, as the Packers improved from 32nd in 2014 to 17th in 2015.
Simmons originally joined the Packers as the team’s coaching administrator in 2011, where his duties included working closely with the defensive staff to collect and tabulate weekly production statistics, in addition to assisting at practice with both the starting defense and opponent scout teams.
A fifth-round selection (137th overall) by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1998 NFL Draft, Simmons went on to play in 121 games over the ensuing 10 seasons (1998-2007). A defensive back by trade, he made his mark as a standout player on special teams during his career. Simmons amassed 96 career tackles on the coverage units, and it was his consistent play in the third phase that helped him secure a roster spot year after year.
Simmons played the first four years of his career as a cornerback with the Steelers (1998-2001) after initially making the roster as a fifth-round pick. He contributed right away on special teams, ranking third on the club with a career-high 17 coverage tackles in both 1999 and 2000. During his rookie season in 1998, he played under Zook, who was serving as the club’s special teams coordinator, and alongside Packers safeties coach Darren Perry, who was a fellow member of the Pittsburgh secondary.
Upon entering unrestricted free agency in 2002, he joined the expansion Houston Texans, where he played under Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers, who was the team’s first head coach.
In Houston, Simmons maintained his niche as one of the core players on special teams, but also saw increased action from scrimmage as a spot starter and reserve safety. He started a career-high six games in 2004 and posted a career-best 46 tackles (35 solo) and his first interception.
In the spring of 2007, the Texans signed Ahman Green, who is the Packers’ all-time leading rusher, as an unrestricted free agent. Following his arrival, Green approached Simmons about obtaining his familiar No. 30, the number Simmons had worn in Houston since joining the club in 2002. Simmons agreed to make the exchange, asking that Green in turn make the down payment on a home for an underprivileged family in the Houston area, a sum that ultimately amounted to $50,000.
Simmons started the season opener in 2007, but suffered a knee injury and was placed on season-ending injured reserve. He retired following the season, having played in 121 career games (12 starts), and recorded 186 tackles (138 solo), 10 passes defensed, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, two sacks and two interceptions on defense, in addition to the 96 career stops on special teams.
As a collegian, he lettered all four years at cornerback for Arizona State, earning second-team All-Pacific-10 honors as a senior in 1997. That season, Simmons started all 10 games and tallied 41 tackles (36 solo), 10 passes defensed and a career-high three INTs. A team captain his senior year, he shared that distinction with four other players, including defensive teammate Pat Tillman, a future NFL safety who retired from football to join the U.S. Army, and was tragically killed in action in 2004.
Simmons was also twice named an honorable mention all-conference selection, including as a junior in 1996, when he started every game for a conference championship team that went 11-1 and appeared in the Rose Bowl for just the second time in school history.
Born March 30, 1976, in Inglewood, Calif., Simmons attended Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, Calif., where he lettered all four years in both football and track, earning honorable mention all-state recognition on the gridiron and first-team all-state honors for his participation in the 4x100-meter relay in track.
Simmons and his wife, Tiffany, reside in Green Bay with their children, Taelyr, Jason Jr. and Jaddan.