Steven Sims took a jet sweep in stride against the New England Patriots and wrapped around the right side of the offensive line. Sims found open space and left Patriots Safety Devin McCourty in the dust, faking right and cutting left, evading chasing defenders and sprinting down the sideline for a 65-yard touchdown.
The play is an embodiment of Sims' role on the offense, which has gradually increased on throughout the season, and he has consistently provided a spark on special teams. Sims displayed his speed and explosiveness during the preseason, both on offense and in the return game.
“I can remember him at rookie minicamp funny enough immediately flashing the first one-on-one period we had against the defense running routes,” said offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell. “Steven was showing up, you’re checking your roster and you’re looking at this number 15 keep showing up and then that consistently happened. His skillset is real.”
Sims will have an opportunity to play against fellow wide receiver Jakeem Grant against the Miami Dolphins. Both Sims and Grant are top five in the NFL in kick return yardage, providing their respective offenses with good field position.
“I’m anxious, I can’t wait, I played [Jakeem Grant] in college, so we’re just out here battling at the highest level. It’s great, I’m ready to compete,” Sims said.
Trailing 21-0 in Week 3 against the Chicago Bears, Sims provided a much-needed spark on special teams. Sims caught the ensuing kickoff on the 2-yard line and found a crease on the outside. Sims sprinted down the sideline for a 45-yard return and continued to display his playmaking speed in Week 4 against the New York Giants with an 81-yard return that was called back due to a penalty.
“His confidence in his ability, but also he’s very hungry to make plays," O'Connell said. "He’s very hungry to have an impact on the game. The best thing about him is he just wants to win, he wants to have a positive impact, but he’s also the first guy to support the teammates around him.”
Sims has five receptions and four rush attempts this season, highlighted by his 65-yard touchdown run. Sims played more than 50% of the snaps for the first time this season against the Patriots -- far surpassing his previous high total of 10%. The increased role does not come as a surprise to Sims, who anticipated an increased role heading into last week’s matchup.
“We put in a new formation to put me and [Trey Quinn] in the slot at the field at the same time," Sims said. "Going in, I knew I was gonna get my opportunities and I was ready to make the most of them.”
O’Connell is taking over the play calling duties moving forward. Interim head coach Bill Callahan has emphasized the importance of establishing the run game and increasing the number of rushing attempts. Jet sweeps still figure to be a key component of the Redskins rushing attack in order to keep defenses off balance, which means more opportunity for Sims to show off his ability.
“He’s still trying to get acclimated in our system in his role, which is ever evolving," O’Connell said. “Definitely have plans for him both in the run game and the pass game.”