- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Simms credits quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett ("The best thing to happen to me in my pro career," he says) for tightening his mechanics and making his pass drops precise. Says primary receiver Joey Galloway, "It's Chris's show now. He's a young kid dying to be really good." For most of the off-season Simms threw five days a week, even when there were no receivers at the team's training facility. When pass catchers were scarce in June, he enlisted defensive tackle Ellis Wyms to play tight end and threw to him for an hour. "My best attribute is I can throw all day, every day, and not get a sore arm," Simms says. "I need to be doing that now, so I can get used to my receivers."
One wideout he worked with was newcomer David Boston, who looked sculpted in camp at 228 pounds and who seems to realize his career's on the line. This is his fourth team in five years, and he caught only four passes total over the last two seasons. (Knee injuries ruined his time in Miami.) Now he's running pain-free. "He could be a monster for us," Simms says.
The young quarterback and his receivers need to get it together early, to the tune of, say, a 7--1 start. That's because five of the last eight games are on the road, and in November the Bucs face a brutal stretch of three games in 11 days: at Carolina on Monday, home to Washington the following Sunday and at Dallas on Thanksgiving. Oh, and both Super Bowl teams, Pittsburgh and Seattle, are on the December calendar. "All the NFL people worried about player safety evidently weren't consulted on our schedule," Gruden says. "Three games in 11 days, two on the road? Come on."
Then there's age. Six of the 11 defensive starters are 30 and older: corners Ronde Barber (31) and Brian Kelly (30), linebackers Derrick Brooks (33) and Shelton Quarles (34) and ends Simeon Rice (32) and Greg Spires (32). All avoided injury in 2005, but the chance of that happening in '06 is slim. Tampa Bay can't count on the defense, which was tops in the league, to be as good. That's why Simms's development is vital.