On the practice field, QB Chris Simms has focused on denying the defense a chance at big plays
Phil Simms played quarterback for 15 years in the National Football, tossed 199 touchdowns and was a Super Bowl MVP. Brad Johnson is heading into his 13th NFL campaign, is one of the league's all-time leaders in completion percentage and is a Super Bowl-winning passer, as well.
That's a nice little support system for Chris Simms, or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' quarterback-of-the-future, as he is often called.
But who has been most helpful to the younger Simms, the father who guided him through his youth and development or the experienced teammate leading him through the Bucs' playbook? Setting aside other important influences such as Jon Gruden, Jason Garrett and John Shoop, is it Phil Simms or Brad Johnson who is the better QB tutor for Chris Simms?
Is there an answer? Isn't that akin to asking who is the most important mentor for Neo, Morpheus or the Oracle? Why would we confront Simms with this question, anyway?
Well, because a Buccaneer fan wanted to know.
The latest guest in the popular 'Your Turn' interview series on Buccaneers.com, Simms agreed to answer a collection of queries sent in by Tampa Bay fans over the past two weeks. Among them was that teaser submitted by Dave Tweedy of Watertown, New York. Simms's answer, after a thoughtful pause? See below.
Chris Simms is entering his second season as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer after being selected with the final pick of the third round in the 2003 draft. Does that surprising draft-day turn of events still drive Simms more than a year later. See below.
As that second season begins, Simms shares the Bucs' QB depth chart with Johnson and a pair of 2004 signees, Garrett and Brian Griese, a former starter in Denver and Miami. Johnson remains the scheduled starter at that crowded position, but Simms has impressed the coaching staff with an excellent offseason of work. Could Simms's time as the starter come within the next few years? See how he feels about that issue below.
Read on, in fact, for Simms's answers to 10 of your questions, most of them representative of the topics most commonly sent in to the young passer. This is the first half of his Your Turn experience, and you can watch the video version of the interview in the Buccaneers.com Video Archive and on the home page in the Buccaneers Broadcast Network. In addition, a full written transcript of the interview follows below.
Later in the week, Simms's answers to the second 10 questions will be posted, in both video and text format.
Your Turn with Chris Simms, Part I
1. Philip Coldiron, Largo, Florida: Do you expect to be a starter within the next two years?
Simms: "Philip, I would definitely have to say I do feel like I'm going in that direction, at least. I want to play, I want to start. I think everybody here wants to start. And I know my time will come, and I'll be ready when that time comes."
2. Bryan Marks, New Port Richey, Florida: From what I've seen, you seem comfortable with this offense. In a game situation, if you had to come in, how would you approach taking over a leadership position as the quarterback?
Simms: "You know, leadership has never been a real big problem for me. I feel like I have that quality in me, at least as far as, I want to be great and I know when I'm on the field I want our team to be great. That's just going to bring me up to the level of intensity that I need. I'm sure I've got a whole lot of stuff to learn still, I'm young, but I'll get all the tricks down."
3. Aaron, Austin, Texas: As a 2002 grad of UT, I was at every one of your home games during your time there. Do you still talk to or see any of your old Longhorn teammates, and what sort of stuff do you talk about?
Simms: "Without a doubt. I talk to all my Longhorn teammates. I talk to Roy Williams, who's up there in Detroit, probably four or five times a week. Rod Babers is also in Detroit. I really keep in touch with what's going on down there. I love that school. It's a great place and I still miss it."
4. Kevin White, Knoxville, Tennessee: In the long run, were you happy with your decision to go to Texas, did you enjoy your time there and do you think the program prepared you for the NFL?
Simms: "Right. I know he's from Tennessee and I did commit to Tennessee before I went to Texas. I don't think I would have been wrong with either decision, honestly, and that's the way I felt even back then. It was just something that called me towards the University of Texas and ran with it and I don't regret it one bit. I had a great time down there and my best friends in the world are ones I went to school with down there in Texas."
5. Luis Barbosa, Plant City, Florida: Are you excited to have Joey Galloway on the team?
Simms: "Luis, Joey Galloway is the fastest human I've ever seen in person. So, as a quarterback, that's always good. He's a great player, a great person and I think he's just a huge spark for our team offensively."
6. Brent, Los Angeles, California: Huge fan of yours at Texas. Is the pressure at the NFL level close to what you felt at Texas?
Simms: "The pressure in college is just a whole lot different than the pressure in the NFL. You're playing for school; you're still young; it's a new experience for you. In the NFL, it's more of a professional approach. The pressure mainly comes from the coaching, because they want you to perform every day in practice. Just every day – in college, I'm walking around in school, seeing people, fans are saying, 'Hey, good luck tomorrow in the game,' whereas in the pros it's a little bit more individual, or just secluded with your team."
7. Dave Tweedy, Watertown, New York: So who is a better tutor...Brad Johnson or your father?
Simms: "Wow. It's pretty close. Brad has helped me out in many ways. But my dad has been there with me from the start, as far as tutoring me and giving me pointers. They're both very helpful people, but I'd probably have to choose my dad in that one. There are two different things they can teach me. Brad can teach me a whole lot about our offense and things like that, while my dad can teach me about quarterbacking and just how to play the position overall."
8. Darryl, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada: What is the single most important thing you've learned from Brad Johnson?
Simms: "I think the one thing Brad Johnson has that is unbelievable, far and away, is his ability to not get sacked. He gets the ball out of his hand so quickly. I know last year that we didn't really pass protect as well as we're capable of in some games and he just did an amazing job of getting the ball out of his hand and not getting sacked. That's something I've really tried to improve my game in."
9. Mike McHugh, Naples, Florida: Do you feel that being picked in the third round gives you something more to prove?
Simms: "Without a doubt. It's something that, every time I talk about it, it definitely hits a spot. It gets my blood hot. But all in all, it's not how you start, it's how you finish, and that's where I'm keeping my focus."
10. Vincent Curtaz, Oakland, California: What would you say is the area of your game you have improved the most since being selected by the Bucs in last year's draft?
Simms: "If I was going to take one area, I would probably just say – I talked about Brad a few minutes ago getting the ball out of his hand quickly – I think I've really improved my decision-making processes…deciphering the defense, getting the ball out of my hand before I get sacked or before the defense can make any big plays that can mess an offense up. No sacks, no interceptions…just things like that I can improve on, making the right decision."