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Currently[when?] he is in his thirteenth season as the Cincinnati Bengals (National Football League) special teams coach. Under his tutelage, in the 2005 season, the Cincinnati Bengals got record-breaking performances from their kicking specialists and kickoff returner, plus Top-10 work from the kickoff return and kickoff coverage teams.
Simmons’s biggest individual success story has been placekicker Shayne Graham. Simmons faced a challenge in 2003, when Graham joined the Bengals on waivers just a week before the regular-season opener and was moved into the No. 1 job. But Simmons has helped guide Graham to three of the finest kicking seasons in Bengals history. In 2005, Graham became the first Bengals kicker to make the Pro Bowl. He broke his own team record with 131 points; broke a record (he previously had shared) by making 14 straight field goals (streak is still active entering 2006); and he qualified as the most accurate FG kicker in club history (87.5 percent).
Second-year punter Kyle Larson, originally a Bengals college free agent signee under Simmons, averaged 43.2 yards per kick in 2005. It was the club’s best average since 1998, and the punt team’s 35.6-yard net average was also the Bengals’ best since 1998. Larson set a team record with a 75-yard punt at Jacksonville, breaking the previous mark of 73 by Brad Costello.
Rookie kickoff returner Tab Perry set Bengals season records for total returns (64) and KOR yards (1562) in 2005. He was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance Dec. 4 at Pittsburgh, which included a 94-yard KOR. The 2005 Bengals finished ninth in the NFL in team KOR average (23.6) and finished seventh in kickoff coverage (21.0).
In 2003, Simmons’s first Bengals season, his return and coverage units provided a major boost in the punting game. Cincinnati finished 12th in punt return average and 11th in opponents punt return average, following a 2002 season in which the team had finished 31st in returns and 32nd in coverage.
In 2004, Bengals coverage and return teams ranked in the NFL’s top half in three of four areas, topped by a fifth-ranked kickoff coverage team allowing 19.7 yards per return.
Simmons began his NFL coaching career in 1998 on the same Baltimore Ravens staff as Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. Simmons was assistant special teams coach and assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Ravens in 1998, and he held that same role for the Carolina Panthers from 1999–2002.
Carolina ranked fourth in the NFL in 2002 in net punting average (37.5), and the Panthers special units led the league in kickoff coverage with only 18.5 yards allowed per return.
Simmons excelled while punting for the University of Kansas (KU) from 1993–95, earning All-Big Eight honors his final year. As a senior, he helped the Jayhawks to a Top-10 national ranking and to an Aloha Bowl victory over UCLA. Also as a senior at KU, he won honors as an Academic All-American.
Simmons began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Kansas in 1996. He moved to the University of Minnesota in 1997 before joining the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens in 1998.
Simmons graduated from Elkhart High School in 1991. He earned a degree in sports management from the University of Kansas in 1996. He and his wife, Rhonda, have one daughter and two sons.
Playing and coaching history
1991–92 Played quarterback and punter at Dodge City Community College. 1993–95: Punter, University of Kansas. 1996: Graduate assistant coach, University of Kansas. 1997: Assistant coach (AC), University of Minnesota. 1998: AC, Baltimore Ravens. 1999–2002: AC, Carolina Panthers. 2003–present: AC, Bengals.