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What is the status of Chris Simms?
By JOHN ROMANO AND GARY SHELTON
Published September 24, 2006
This week's electronic conversation between Sports columnists Gary Shelton and John Romano focuses on the status of Bucs quarterback Chris Simms:
GS: John, it's a pretty important day for a young quarterback. Who should Chris Simms worry more about this game? Julius Peppers, Mike Rucker or Jon Gruden?
JR: None of the above. Simms needs to stop worrying. He can't stop Peppers and Rucker (and I doubt if his offensive line can, either) and he'll never satisfy Gruden. So quit fretting about it, and stop watching those Chucky movies. He isn't going to last if he plays scared.
GS: That's easy to say from where we sit. We're only two games into the season, and he's lost more goodwill than Tom Cruise. Instead of being this charismatic kid with a brand name, suddenly there is yelling and cursing and name-calling. And that's just from Gruden. At some point, shouldn't a coach try patting an occasional back, just to see if it works?
JR: You would think so, but I'm not sure life-affirming platitudes are in Gruden's repertoire. This is a guy who, after the hunters blasted mommy deer, would tell Bambi to buck up.
GS: Now starring in The Deerhunter Part II, Jon Gruden. Only this time, it's about hunting quarterbacks. Tell me: With the bye week coming up, do you get the feeling that Simms is playing for his job?
JR: I think it's a possibility. The bigger question: Do you think that is wise?
GS: No, I think it's too soon. If this is going to be a decent season, Simms has to be the quarterback. If it's going to be terrible, we'll have plenty of time to see Bruce Gradkowski. I say Simms deserves at least a game for every month of the offseason when the Bucs could have brought in an alternative but didn't.
JR: If it comes to divorce, don't you think Simms would have a right to file on the basis of nonsupport? Abandonment? I'm not sure what connubial means, but there's probably a lack of that, too.
GS: I think it's an old Irish word meaning "to tackle," and yep, there is a complete lack of it. Simms isn't the only problem. This is like an Agatha Christie novel where everybody is guilty. The line. The defense. The coaches. The placekicker. And I haven't been happy with my adverbs, either.
JR: So what's your best guess for today? Does Gruden continue to pound away with the two-tight end offense that is marching down the field 2.3 yards at a time? Or does he loosen it up and try to open up the running game by first establishing the pass?
GS: I think he comes out dedicated to running Cadillac Williams. Whether that dedication lives past the first quarter, we'll see. It didn't last week. But as sure as Keyshawn wears flip-flops, the Bucs are going to have to be able to do both. Which is different than neither.
JR: All I'm looking for is a reason to believe. Believe that the offense can find a map to the end zone or that the defense hasn't slipped into the infinite abyss.
GS: Oh, you men of faith. It's easier to be a nonbeliever. I say 20-14, Carolina.
JR: I'll take one more stab at optimism. Tampa Bay, 21-17.