I hear ya!

You want Chris Simms out and the backup quarterback in.

You want the Great Gradkowski? Bruce, that is. Or perhaps you want the third string quarterback, which is Tim Rattay  in case youve forgotten, or never knew in the first place.

The bottom line is you want that guy over there with the hat.

Not this guy here with the helmet.

In that case, you want a reality check.

Simms, you believe, has got to go because he cant stop getting his passes tipped at the line of scrimmage and cant keep his balls from falling into the hands of the other guys. Ultimately, youre convinced that after two horrific performances, something should be done.

Youre right, but not at quarterback.

Heres a word of caution, backup quarterbacks are like pickup lines in a bar. You go to them once and they better work. If they dont, the game is over, the hottie is out the door and youre a laughing stock among the fellas.

True, Simms has done nothing to win hearts, much less games. He has thrown low passes, wide passes and bad passes. Quite a few of those, actually.

Hes been picked off six times and his offense has yet to score a touchdown. He is missing targets, hesitating in the pocket and putting his starting job in a tenuous position.

After the Falcon Flop, Simms has a foot in the grave, and another in the quicksand. But, whats the alternative?

Gradkowski? Gimme a break! No disrespect meant to the young man, but how does the rookie versus Julius Peppers in a momentum-critical divisional game sound to you? Trevor Berbick had better odds against Mike Tyson.

Rattay? Heck, hes had 16 NFL starts and couldnt beat out Gradkowski.

The buzz word from Jon Gruden at Mondays news conference was support. As in yanking Simms jock strap to a point where he understands things a bit better.

A whole lot better.

I am not going to address everything publicly out of respect for the situation that we are in right now and the respect I have for him, Gruden said. I am just going to try and pump him back up with confidence and let him know that you have to learn from these things, and we have to learn quick.

I am going to stay with them and I am going to do the best I can to coach (him) better and I am going to have to take responsibility for the results.

Thatll have to work for now because nothing else likely will.

If youre hell bent on pointing fingers, aim a digit or two at the organization for not having a veteran in the mix. Memory tells me that the Bucs wanted Brian Griese to stay to compete with Simms for the job but just couldnt get the Benjamins in line.

Perhaps they werent convinced that Simms, now 7-7 as a starter, was entirely ready. If so, you dont need CSI to prove that the Jay Fiedler experiment was a mistake and the choice not to pursue another available veteran was even more puzzling.

And now, dont even think about injecting some geriatric gunslinger still trying to survive.

I dont see any experience showing up here on the horizon, so some of these negative experiences youve just got to swallow and youve got to move on, Gruden said. Hopefully, he can improve.

If things get any worse, the Bucs can see if they have gear that can fit Doug Williams. He likely can sling it around a bit.

Barring that, Simms is in line for another shot because right now hes the most likely candidate, the only candidate, to get it right against the Panthers.

Slap him around a little. Work him over good and proper on talk radio, on message boards, chat rooms and around the water coolers at work.

Hes a quarterback and quarterbacks get second-guessed.

But accept this, if Simms doesnt get it right in his head this week, the choice to go to Gradkowski becomes a lot simpler, if not unavoidable.

For now, Gruden and the Bucs have to show confidence in and commitment to the young star they evaluated as the best of their lot.

Remember, you can pull the plug early, but all that does is plunge you into deeper darkness.

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