Posted: Monday September 25, 2006 10:31AM; Updated: Monday September 25, 2006 6:16PM
Ten Things I Think I Think
Chris Simms suffered a ruptured spleen during the Bucs' 26-24 loss to the Panthers.
1. I think it's fair to criticize Chris Simms for his poor play in the first three weeks of the season, but all this stuff about him not being tough is absurd. And I don't say that only because he got knocked out with a ruptured spleen against Carolina. I would have said the same thing no matter what had happened Sunday.
I saw Simms take a real beating last November in Foxboro, and I walked with him to the team bus afterward. He kept saying he was fine, nothing hurt, everything was OK. But I had seen the way he had gingerly moved around while getting dressed after the game, and it was clear to me that he was in pain on about 16 parts of his body. So if you question his toughness, I would question your credentials to judge toughness. The kid might be in a slump, but he's as tough as his old man.
Re: this injury, Simms will be fine. He's likely to be out at least two months, and perhaps for the rest of the season, after suffering the injury on a hot, humid day in Tampa. The Bucs will update his status this afternoon. GM Bruce Allen told me Sunday night that the team did not know which play caused the injury, whether it happened very early in the game or on his third-quarter, somersaulting touchdown dive or on a hard hit in the fourth quarter that the Bucs thought should have been a roughing-the-passer call. Receiver Michael Clayton said after the game that Simms seemed to be struggling physically early in the game and had trouble getting plays out lucidly in the huddle. Whenever the injury happened, Simms showed his toughness by leading his team back in the fourth quarter, though they eventually lost 26-24.
There's no doubt Simms will be able to continue his career; we just don't know if it will be in December or in 2007. The question for the Bucs is how they will be competitive this year with Bruce Gradkowski, the rookie sixth-rounder from Toledo, and Tim Rattay as the only quarterbacks in JonGruden's stable. Gradkowski was Gruden's flavor of the month throughout training camp, so let's see if he can get him ready to play during this bye week.
2. I think you'd all better sit down. This e-mail was in my inbox Sunday morning at 6:15 a.m., with the tagline, "Pray for my men, Peter -- Mike McGuire,'' from the first sergeant commanding a platoon of soldiers in Iraq whose task it is to dismantle Improvised Explosive Devices in the war-torn country.
"How do I start off this letter? 21 Sept 2006 is burned into my mind. I was out with my 1st squad doing a regular sweep of the area when we had to dismount the vehicle and trace wires to a suspected IED. The IED exploded and wounded two of my men very badly. SPC Regusci is on his way to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington as I write this and SPC Huerta should be right behind him. The men will live but they are badly hurt. I can't go into details because it hurts too much.
"Earlier in one of your Monday Morning Quarterback columns you wrote about Sgt. Bevington. Well, he did not make it from the blast. His life was claimed by the blast. It was a horrible sight to see my men like that. And it pains me deeply. Sgt. Bevington was thought of very deeply by me and the entire platoon. This is something that I will never get over. I keep thinking, how did I survive and he did not? I was only about five feet away. I feel so sorry for his family and friends. He was like a son to me. So young. I can't explain the grief. It's devastating.
"I just wanted you to know that on 21 Sept 2006, we lost a great man and a brave man. My heart goes out to his family back in the Pittsburgh area. I want him to be remembered as a son, a brother, a friend and a inspiration to everyone left behind. He is my hero and will be missed the remainder of my days. -- Mike.''
My heart goes out to our troops, and I have told Sergeant McGuire that I will forward e-mails from my readers to let him know how much we sympathize with him and his platoon for their losses. However we all feel about this war, the courage of the men brave enough to fight in it is something that should inspire all of us. When I first met Mike last summer in St. Louis, I was amazed at how matter-of-fact he was about diving into the belly of the beast, taking his platoon to the most dangerous spot in the world, to do the most dangerous job in the war. IEDs are hidden. Angry people think of how they can bury an IED just below the ground so it can't be seen or found. The element of surprise is what causes the fatalities as much as the bomb itself. And to think that Mike's platoon lasted 10 months living on the outskirts of death without ever having a fatality is amazing enough. All I can do is ask all of you to pray and think positive thoughts for Sergeant McGuire and his men. Thank you.
3. I think these are my quick-hit thoughts of Week 3:
a. In the last six quarters, the Jets have outplayed the Patriots and the Bills significantly. This is such a wacky league. Who had the Jets 10-6 this year? Raise your hands out there. Woody Johnson, you don't count.
b. Chad Pennington is the Comeback Player of the Year, at least for September.
c. Anyone out there noticing how great David Carr is playing?
d. Sports Quiz: Name the two leaders in quarterback rating right now. Give up? Carr, 113.6. Philip Rivers, 107.
e. Name the 21st and 22nd. Tom Brady, 78.5. Steve McNair, 78.3.
f. Followed by chaps named Culpepper, Delhomme, Leftwich.
g. And that's why they play the games.
h. Kerry Collins, rightfully, should have the Titans QB job until the bye three weeks from now, after which Vince Young will be ready to take command. Why subject Young to Dallas, Indy and Washington when he's still learning how defenses work?