Second-year QB Chris Simms believes he could take over the Bucs' offense if called upon
The Bucs' second-year passer returns for another round of fan questions, delving into such topics as Michael Clayton, the team's rebuilt offensive line and a possible dose of reality (TV, that is)
In terms of a basic eagerness to learn, nothing has changed for Chris Simms from 2003 to 2004. The calendar has been a lot more accomodating, however.
Simms was a late third-round draft pick in 2003 and, as he admitted in his last interview with Buccaneers.com, that fact gave his desire an added edge last year...and it still does. However, he only had a few short months and a limited number of cram sessions with Jon Gruden before hitting his first training camp. He was learning, yes, but on quite an accelerated schedule.
The 2004 offseason has been different. Simms had put in several months of work before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' latest draft class came aboard. In addition, he had a season's worth of practice, a year of watching Brad Johnson and a whole lot of general system absorption on which to fall back.
As a result, Simms is significantly more comfortable as a Buccaneer and an NFL quarterback this time around.
"I was here pretty early in the offseason and got out there pretty good," he said. "The coaches had a great offseason plan set out for me. I learned a lot, especially with the new talent we got in, the rookie receivers, we did a good job in working and trying to teach them as much as possible.
"The playbook has become a whole lot easier for me. Last year I was really learning on the fly. This year I really got to study things and take a second look. It helped me a lot."
On what has he improved the most? And what areas of his game still need the most work?
These are the types of questions Buccaneer fans would like to ask Simms, and now they've had their chance. As Tampa Bay's offseason program was coming to a close with the recent three-day mini-camp, Buccaneers.com users were sending in queries to the second-year quarterback, providing the grist for his first 'Your Turn' interview.
One Buc fan, in fact, wanted an answer to the question above: What does Simms still need to work on the most? The answer is below.
Your Turn with Chris Simms, Part II
1. Mike Bieluwka, Dunedin, Florida: What is the main area that you feel you still need to improve upon in order to reach game-ready status?
Simms: "I think probably the one thing I need to improve on is my overall game presentation. I have yet to play a full NFL game and I'm sure that will be a new experience for me when the time comes. I just need to be able to go in there and be a leader and be able to run the offense as if Brad was in there and nothing has changed. That's the one thing I think I need to continue to get a grasp on."
2. CPT Kenneth Siverson, Friedberg, Germany: Although the rewards likely outweigh the downside, being the son of a very successful NFL quarterback and being a quarterback yourself must have been difficult at times. Have you ever felt like you have to accomplish more than he did?
Simms: "You know what? I never felt that way. And the one reason I probably felt that way was because of my dad. My dad was the type of father who never pressured me or pushed me to play any sports. He let me be my own man growing up, and if anything he probably would have liked me to be a baseball player rather than a football player. But I defied that and here I am."
3. Matt, Austin, Texas: Do you think Cedric and DJ can finally take it home for the burnt orange? Hook 'em.
Simms: "Right. Cedric Benson, running back down there at the University of Texas, and Derrick Johnson, a linebacker down there who I thought was the best linebacker in college football last year. They are both unbelievable talents. The only thing about football, it's more than a two-man game. Those two are great. I don't really know what they've got coming in this year, but I know in the long run they'll always be alright. We've got too much talent down there not to be alright."
4. Lance, Wyckoff, New Jersey: I enjoyed watching you at Ramapo and followed you at Texas when I could. Do you feel you are ready to take over this team right now, or would another year of learning benefit you more?
Simms: "I feel like I'm capable of taking over this team right now. Now, would another year of learning help me? Yes; maybe no. I feel like I've learned a lot but at this point I'm getting close to the point where it's all about on-field experience. Sooner or later, I'm going to need that experience; just get in there and have to do it."
5. Andy Burkart, Colorado Springs, Colorado: Since you throw left-handed, how much of an adjustment do the receivers have to make, considering the different ball rotation?
Simms: "Right. The receivers, they have to adjust. They probably have the toughest adjustment when it comes to a lefty. The first few days, it takes them a little while to get used to the ball thrown in a different way. But I think after a few days it just becomes football again and they just go out there and catch it. The hardest part is for coaches and linemen...you know, lefties, they've got to switch plays around a lot for me, a lefty. It messes people up a little."
6. Scott, Peabody, Massachusetts: There was a report that Coach Gruden was going to ask Steve Young to help tutor you in the fine art of being a scrambling southpaw. Have you had a chance to work with Steve Young, and would you welcome his teaching?
Simms: "Without a doubt. I've had a chance to meet Steve Young a few times, and he's a great guy. I've always loved the lefty quarterbacks, so anybody who wants to come in here and help me out, it's always great. And he ran the same offense I'm running now, too, which is another plus. He could really teach me a lot."
7. Joe H., Louisville, Kentucky: Jon Gruden's offense is known to be quite complicated. Has it been difficult for you to learn the system?
Simms: "All in all, I've had some hard times in the system, I will say that. But as time went, I got to sit back last year, sit on the bench and watch Brad play. I really learned a lot and absorbed a lot into my brain. When I came back this offseason again and started working, it's just become night and day from last year. Last year I was struggling to say plays and this year I'm really comfortable in what I'm doing and real confident in what I'm doing."
8. Mike Sims of Cincinnati, Ohio: One year after drafting you, the Bucs took receiver Michael Clayton in the first round. Did you get excited about that pick, thinking about the two of you learning together and becoming the future of the offense in Tampa?
Simms: "Without a doubt, man. Mike Clayton, I've got to practice with him here the last three weeks and he's been unbelievable. I'm just excited to have him on the team. He's a hard-worker and he's going to do a lot for our team."
9. Fred Augat, Land O' Lakes, Florida: How do you feel about the Bucs' new offensive line? Is it coming together well?
Simms: "Our offensive line is...yes, it's going to be a big improvement from last year. We've got some new guys in here and I think the best thing about it is, we just have a new attitude. They're coaching things differently and we should be a lot better off. They are nasty."
10.Tim Bowers, Sebring, Florida: Reality shows are all over TV these days. Even Giants quarterback Jesse Palmer took a turn as the Bachelor this past season. What reality show would you be suited best to star on?
Simms: "Definitely not The Bachelor, because I have enough girl problems as it is. I don't want to deal with that. I would probably have to go with Fear Factor. I know I could do all the stunts, the daredevil stuff, but if I had to eat a worm or a cockroach, I'm out."