FAB 4. Simms Talks About Winston, Arians

I had the chance to catch up with former Tampa Bay quarterback Chris Simms at the NFL Scouting Combine here in Indianapolis and we talked a little Bucs football. I always enjoyed covering Simms because of his great personality and his knack for being a straight shooter.

Simms was a third-round pick in 2004 and took over the starting job the next year, helping the Bucs go 11-5 with a 6-4 record as a starter, replacing Brian Griese, who broke his collarbone. Simms was the starter in 2006 and started off the season with six interceptions in the first two games of the year before rupturing his spleen in a 26-24 Week 3 loss against Carolina, which ended his season and derailed his NFL career. After sitting out the 2007 season, Simms played in a handful of games with Tennessee and Denver before retiring in 2009.

Jon Gruden and former Bucs QB Chris Simms - Photo by: Getty Images
Jon Gruden and former Bucs QB Chris Simms – Photo by: Getty Images

After working at Barstool Sports, Simms was recently hired by NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk and I interviewed him about his former team before one of his PFT Live segments, asking him if he thinks Arians can salvage Winston’s pro career.

“I would expect that Bruce has already done his due diligence in that department and thinks he is salvageable or probably wouldn’t have taken that job on,” Simms said. “I think it’s a win-win for both sides. First of all, for a guy like Jameis Winston, who has had some off-the-field issues and maybe it hasn’t gone as smoothly as we would like on the field, Bruce is going to be perfect for him. Not only is he a great coach and a great play designer – anything I’ve ever heard, whether it was with Carson [Palmer], or Peyton [Manning] or Big Ben [Roethlisberger] – he makes the quarterback feel like he’s in the fight with you. Like, ‘I’m playing with you and I’m living vicariously through you.’ If he throws a pick, he’s not just going to yell at you. It’s almost like a team effort at the quarterback position. That’s why I’m excited.

“Jameis Winston, as we know, it’s not always perfect on the field. There are some head-scratching moments where you go, ‘Damn, why would he throw that? Why did he try to throw the ball over his head backwards?’ Of course, some of the off-the-field stuff is annoying. But damn, Jameis Winston’s ‘good’ is really good. And when he has games where when he’s on, it makes my jaw drop consistently. This guy still has the potential to be one of the best – or better – quarterbacks in the NFL. He’s still extremely young and he’s done some extremely immature things on and off the field, and hopefully he’s correcting those things and going in the right direction.”

I asked Simms how he thinks Winston, who has a penchant for throwing interceptions, will mesh with Arians’ “no risk it, no biscuit” style, which could lead to more turnovers if he’s not careful.

“At the same time I think well, maybe that might make Jameis more comfortable and not second-guess himself sometimes [and say] ‘Oh gosh, I don’t want to throw an interception here’ – at times like that when you are comfortable you can see the field clearly, think more clearly because you know you are not going to be micromanaged the second you walk off the sidelines,” Simms said. “It could be a good thing, and hey going back to what you said about his college days, I thought that was a little overblown. He leads them to a national championship. He comes back the next year and they were not as good a football team. They couldn’t run and they couldn’t pass protect. For them to win games he kind of had to push the envelope with some of his throws, and yeah, he ended up with a few interceptions certainly, but they ended up back in the Final Four that year, and I can tell you that they were in the Final Four that year because of Jameis Winston and his ability to make some big time plays.”

Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

The Bucs have had one of the league’s worst rushing attacks over the last two years, which hasn’t helped Winston’s development. Simms would love to see Tampa Bay get a running game to help Winston’s cause.

“You do [need a ground game], it takes the pressure off you,” Simms said. “The number one thing, and it’s not just about taking the pressure off you, one of the greatest advantages an offensive team has is the play-action pass. Again, I’d like to remind everybody in the world that thinks the NFL is going to the spread and they are going to throw it every play – did you watch the Patriots this year? Did you watch the Saints? Did you watch the Rams? Those were three of the top six running teams in football. They lined up in the I-formation and ran downhill a lot and because of their consistency and fortitude to run – even when it wasn’t there – it opened up play-action passes for Brees, Brady and Goff to where they were the best play-action pass teams in football.

“That’s where I look at it and go, it’s going to help pass protection, and it’s going to make the looks cleaner for Jameis Winston down the field. And for Jameis Winston, who is such a great thrower of the football between 15 and 30 yards down the field, that’s his wheelhouse – those type of plays. That’s where I want to see them get the run game going.”

NFL pundits claim that a running game is the quarterback’s best friend, but it’s actually a good defense, which Winston hasn’t really had to play with either during his time in Tampa Bay.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston - Photo by: Getty Images
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images

“[Playing from behind] can lead to more interceptions because you are pushing the envelope because you’re going, ‘Damn, I’ve only been on the field three plays because we went three-and-out and we’re down 14-0,’” Simms said. “Now as a quarterback, you have to make things happen. [A good defense] is a huge comfort tool for any quarterback. I’m not sure if that’s a word or a phrase – comfort tool – but regardless, people forget that early on in Tom Brady’s career they weren’t throwing the ball 50 times per game. They played defense. They ran the football. Brady won his first MVP throwing for 145 yards in the Super Bowl, and 50 of them were on the last drive of the game to set up the game-winning field goal. So he had 95 yards through 59 minutes of that football game throwing the football. What it allows you to do with a good defense, is it allows you to grow as a young player because I don’t need to force it.

“Coach [Jon Gruden] told me, ‘If we punt it, our defense is good and we’ll punt it here and live to play another day.’ That was a Jon Gruden phrase – live to play another day. We all micromanage and put the quarterback under a microscope, and give him way too much credit and too much fault no matter where the game goes now – more than ever before. It really drives me crazy as a member of the media – and a former quarterback – because the team matters. There is only one guy I’ve seen in my lifetime – or maybe a few guys like Elway or Aaron Rodgers – where it doesn’t really matter the team they have because they are that special physically and the way they can keep their team in it into the fourth quarter and make magic happen. But everybody needs a team around them.”

Check out Simms and PFT’s Mike Florio interviewing Arians at the NFL Scouting Combine.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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Pete Wood

Sounds like the Bucs are not panicking. Their three step plan is sound. 1. Keep the players who are performing. 2. Don’t sign any high priced free agents. 3. Trade down and get as many picks as possible. I think the Bucs could end up with nine or more picks easily. Trade down with Washington or Miami. Both will overpay since each desperately needs a QB. We could trade number five for a mid first, a second, a third, a late round pick and a high pick for next year. We could possibly get a second from Jacksonville for moving… Read more »

BigSombrero

What QB will be there at 5? Kyler Murray is going #1 to Arizona. Giants will pay the price to move up to #2 to get Haskins. Arizona will dump Josh Rosen for draft capital. My guess would be to New England. New England was just awarded 2 additional 3rd round picks and they have 12 total picks in 2019.

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chefboho

I could only pray this happens because then you’ll either have Bosa, Allen, or Williams at our selection. I don’t think you could possible trade back if any of those three were a available.

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BigSombrero

In 2016 Joey Bosa, Ezekial Elliott and Jalen Ramsey were widely considered the top 3 players in the draft. LA traded #15, #43, #45, #76, and their 2017 1st & 3rd round picks to Tennessee to acquire #1 and drafted Jared Goff. Philly traded from #8, #77, #100, their 2017 1st round pick and their 2018 second round pick to Cleveland to acquire #2 and drafted Carson Wentz. Goff and Wentz have both been to Superbowl. Wentz was injured for the Eagles playoff run, but has a ring. I think most would agree, neither of those guys are Peyton Manning,… Read more »

Ken Grant

I cannot imagine with what we have heard about Arians and what we know about Licht’s love for high-motor guys that they would even consider Rashan Gary. His tape is absolutely awful. He may well have a great combine, but that athleticism rarely shows up on film.

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drdneast

I keep reading about Fitzpatrick splitting the locker room last year because of his play but the only player I remember saying anything about it was the diva Jackson.
Someone correct me if I`m wrong.
I know Jacson thinks he is the team, but he is only one player who doesn’t run good routes, doesn’t fight for the ball and pretty much gives up in a game he isn’t highlighted in.

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SenileSenior

I also noted how DJAX does not fight for the ball or give the extra effort to prevent long throws from turning into interceptions.

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GrayBalls

It’s primarily due to the fact that there were some players, and fans, calling for Fitzpatrick to play when Jameis first took the starter’s role back. The new staff is all in on Winston for 2019 and they do not want any division in the locker room. That comment was not intended, I’m certain, to mean Fitz was causing turmoil through His words and/actions

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drdneast

In the spirit of BucAssBob., I think it is a good idea to pay a secondary TE who didn’t catch more than 30 balls last year $7 mill and not at least offer your second leading WR the same amount of money who caught over twice as many throws. Good thinking. And when did anyone ever see The Hump shirk from going over the middle. Hell that is where he makes his living. I like Brate, but this team doesn’t have the luxury of paying a secondary TE $7 mill in an offense that is probably veering away from two… Read more »

BigSombrero

And if OJ is hurt in the preseason or week 1 and goes on IR(yet again)? Now Brate has at least 70 catches for 852 yards with 8 TDs. He plays hurt. He is a part of the solution, not a problem.

Brate has more TD’s over the last 3 years than any TE in the NFL. If they lose Brate, Humphries and Jackson, I wouldn’t expect the offense to be the same.

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macabee

I have no idea what I’m talking about so bear with me as I try to solve what is clearly a salary cap problem for the Bucs! Please feel free to offer suggestions/corrections as you think are warrantied. If I heard right Tuesday at the Combine when Licht and Arians held pressers, the Bucs want to keep McCoy, DJax. and Donovan Smith among others. The Bucs have 16mil in cap space and will need a 9mil rookie pool (OTC). Mike Greenberg is the best capologist in the NFL, but he’s no magician! So sumpin’s gotta give!!!!! Here’s my take! WR… Read more »

Pete Wood

I think you know exactly what you are talking about. Heck, I wish you’d submit a battle plan to pewter.
Good ideas on cap room.
Do you see the Bucs keeping Humphries?

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macabee

Pete, I think they will try. My understanding is that Humphries has asked for 8mil. Maybe this is a case of shoot for the moon and land among the stars. The only comp that comes to mind is 3 x Superbowl winner and Superbowl MVP Julian Edelman. Perhaps this is an unfair comp and it says more about Belichick, but Edelman in under contract for 5.5mil/yr. If Humphries is willing to take a similar contract, I think he has a good chance of being re-signed. Otherwise he is probably going to be allowed to test free agency. I like Hump,… Read more »

BigSombrero

Why would they keep Humphries? He doesn’t fit in BA’s offense and he’s about to get top money with a weak WR free agency class. He will get 8-10 million from Indy, Denver, etc. On top of that, you think Tampa will just dump Desean Jackson for nothing when he DOES fit into a major role in a Bruce Arians offense and is priced cheap. If they cut Desean, I bet he commands 12-14mil/year on a 2 or 3 year agreement in this current free agent market. It just doesn’t make any sense. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No… Read more »

BigSombrero

Bright side to losing Humphries and Kwon. They will both earn Tampa compensatory picks in the 2020 draft if they sign elsewhere.

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Horse

Mac, pretty good analysis. I too am concerned about the low cap available at this point ; this reasoning could be directly pointed towards Licht.
I’m not a fan of passing debt along to a future season.
I’m more in favor of offering less or they can go somewhere else. I would remind them if their offer isn’t accepted and they come back later with okay we’ll take your offer, it might be less than what was offered before.
What do you think?

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macabee

And you are not alone Horse. The Bucs adhere religiously to pay-as-you-go. Remember that restructures are not always pay cuts. They can be pay advances. In the case of Mike Evans, it isn’t any more or any less. It only becomes dead money when the player is no longer here and it is still on the books. It is simply a means to an end allowed by the NFL. I doubt that the Bucs would do it since it has not historically been their practice. I really don’t think we’re going to have much of a first wave free agency,… Read more »

SenileSenior

I believe DJAX is gone sooner or later. Sooner meaning via a trade during the draft. Later meaning a trade or cut afterwards. I expect Hump to be gone for higher pay. I expect GMAC to return with a restructured contract. I believe he wants a chance to compete in a playoff situation with a long shot for a Superbowl ring here. I believe he wants to retire straight out as a Buc, not after a return, one-day signing. I believe Kwon Alexander will end up with a one-year “prove your value” contract and hope for a postponed payoff next… Read more »

macabee

Sure it does! We are all guessing at this point. As they say “your guess is as good as mine”. lol. Hopefully we know some things for sure after March 13th. But as I stated, the Bucs have the entire offseason to settle some of these issues. Let’s hope that it is sooner!

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BigSombrero

I wouldn’t count on restructures at all. Licht recently said he didn’t believe in restructuring players contracts because then they give less effort. He did restructure Sweezy after Sweezy missed his entire first year with a back injury and surgery. He basically reworked a 2016 $32.5m/5yr deal into a 4 year deal worth approx $20 mil with no dead cap money if he’s cut for health reasons. Sweezy was cut after 2017, recovered and played well last year for Seattle for 1.9mil. It didn’t work out with Sweezy but overall it’s smart. Players will get their money if they perform.… Read more »

BigSombrero

Thumbs down all you want, but I’m 100% correct. No Doubts!!

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chefboho

Man, if Arians was a woman I’d be falling in love. He just knows all the right things to say and I believe in him and his drive. This guy knows what blocks he has to build here or he never would’ve came. Excited for the draft and the season already. Go Bucs!!!

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Sector2814

Trading down would be a great draft strategy if we had a GM who was better at drafting.

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Pete Wood

Even if you have a GM who isn’t great at drafting, trading down still makes sense. It spreads out risk. The fewer the number of picks the more a team puts its eggs in one basket.

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mjmoody

Simms, seriously…what does a spleen even do? I lost my keys at RayJay once, now that was an issue. Thanks as always SR for a Friday full of bits to chew on. Thanks Bucs fans for posting w/ thought. Keeps me thinking and giving SR something to use. (Mac, Flyboy…y’all know who you are.) Just because I think it’s getting swept under the rug, why do we not care about 2ndary in Tampa? Does EVERYBODY have Julio on their Fantasy? What I’m hearing is, 1) they’re healthy now. 2) We’ve already picked some corners 3) the scheme will fix it.… Read more »

BigSombrero

I agree with some of your thoughts. Question? Can you name any secondary player for Chicago? How about San Diego? Pittsburgh? Baltimore? No need to google it, just off the top of your head? I honestly could not think of a corner or safety for any of those teams. They all had great defenses last year and run a 3-4.

Fundamentally, it starts up front on defense.

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mjmoody

Kyle Fuller from V Tech plays for Chicago. Maybe you saw him at the Pro Bowl?

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fredster

I’m hoping we get somebody to trade down. I doubt any player at 5 would be more advantageous to the Bucs than picking up more picks. I really love Brate and Hump but both are luxuries Bucs can’t afford imo. I do worry if Howard goes down though the other TE on this roster are big drop down in pass catching for sure. Jackson is toast for sure. No way they pay that moron 10 million to run his big mouth. He’s not worth it anyways and he doesn’t fight for ball. He’s a diva for sure. Head are too… Read more »

BigSombrero

Current State of the Buccaneers Currently the Bucs are at about $16 million in cap space according to overthecap.com after releasing Vinny Curry. Tampa’s offense finished 1st in passing(320.3 yds/game), 3rd in total yards (415.5/game), but 12th in points scored (24.8/game) and 29th in rushing(95.2yds/game). The passing attack was potent when it had to be and there’s talent is everywhere except right guard. With renewed focus on running the ball from run game coordinator Harold Godwin and an upgrade to the right side of the offensive line, the Bucs will be more balanced. On defense, the Bucs allowed a league… Read more »

BigSombrero

I know everyone hates D.Jax and LOOOOVVVVES Gerald McCoy. I know the GM and Coach said the right things this week when asked about how they fit in the future. How McCoy is the ideal 3 tech. How D.Jax wants to be in Tampa. Try to be objective for a minute. A look at history from Bowles and Arians… If the Bucs play in the 3-4 that Bowles ran last year in NY, he will have ……..LDE….NT…..RDE……. ..LOLB..LILB….RILB..ROLB.. ….Gholston…..Vea……..JPP…. Nassib…Mosley…..David….Josh Allen That is a front seven that can attack. That protects the secondary from trying to cover too long and… Read more »

SCLOBERNOCKER

Josh Allen is probably a pipe dream, but man would it be sweet.

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BigSombrero

I think Bosa, Q.Williams, or Allen will be there at 5. I have no doubt. I would bet the farm on QB going 1 and 2.

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FLBoy84

Kind of disturbing hearing Licht say that Benenoch is a RT after wasting a whole year of development at RG, and Spence is a better fit as a 3-4 OLB. Either Koetter and Co. disregarded Licht’s desire to see Benenoch at RT or he just sat aimlessly by and let the staff play guys out of position. And if we’re now just figuring out Spence is a 3-4OLB (what most thought anyway), why waste a 2nd round pick on one when you’re running a 4-3 D and Nassib, Ngakoue, and Kaufusi were still on the board. I’m no draft expert… Read more »

BUC-ASS-BOB

If what I’m reading is true and Bruce Arians doesn’t want Fitzpatrick as a second string quarterback in the locker room my question is who’s going to win the other two games for them to get to 5 and 11

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BUC-ASS-BOB

If Jameis Winston was a good quarterback why would there be a division in the locker room anyway it makes sense to get rid of the better rated quarterback if you have a division in the locker room the moron thing said just keep coming by this general manager also starting to wonder about the Bruce Arians is he really saying this stuff or is he just lying through his teeth like he did the first day he got here talking about how much respect he had for the glazers Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please… Read more »

BigSombrero

Mccoy and the defense stunk last year. Check out the rankings above. Winston needs a running game and a defense. He’ll be fine.

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BUC-ASS-BOB

Yeah right big sombrero I’ve been hearing this crap for 4 years

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BigSombrero

You’re a numbers guy…The defense was really bad last year. With Mike Smith, after Mike Smith, whatever. Buckner said the only guys on the defensive line that were special were JPP and Vea. That’s it.

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BigSombrero

On defense, the Bucs allowed a league worst 110.9 QB passer rating to opposing QB’s last year. Tampa finished 31st in points allowed (29.0/game), 27th in total yards allowed (383.4/game), 26th in passing yards allowed (259.4/game), and 24th in rushing yards allowed (123.9/game). The Bucs finished 31st in turnover ratio (-18) and tied for 26th(9) in interceptions.

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nybuccguy

Im praying the Bucs trade back and get Jachai Polite. He will be a sack monster in the right system.

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Horse

Good report Scott; I enjoyed it. Lots to think about. I am not a fan of small DB’s; I hope we make some corrections there.

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skipper

Buc-ass-Bob, is there any chance you can post anything other then hatred towards the starting QB? Do you not sleep at night with your hatred towards Winston? Your a broken record dude who can’t stop with the same shit over and over and over again.

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GrayBalls

skipper, there actually IS a chance of it. In fact, I’ve seen it. Sometimes dude talks about something else and ….. Nope, nevermind. He’s still an incoherent rambler

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drdneast

Let’s not forget the use didn’t pursue Drew Breed in FA because they had Simms which was cheese stupidity on the part of Gruden and Allen. Later on, when Gruden tried to pursue Brett Farvs when he had Jeff Garcia, he was skewered by the press for not showing any loyalty to Garcia That showed me the intelligence of the local press Corp. Winston could win the Super Bowl next year 42 -0 and run and throw for all six scores and BucAssBob would still find something wrong with his game because his hatred of Winston runs so deep. Rate… Read more »

flashgordon

I definitelly liked that Devin Bush guy way over the LSU guy. I started seeing it a little bit with the LSU linebacker(forgetting his name), but certainly not at pick 5. Now, I’m absolutely against drafting that LSU linebacker at 5. Likwise, before I saw the Byron Murphy video, I liked the Deandre Baker guy better than Greedy. I also like Darrel Henderson more than Ronald Jones. All this is very annoying because I’d try to solidify the DL and OL. This years Ol doesn’t look nearly as exciting as the DL. I’d get a De and a Dt with… Read more »

flashgordon

Check that, stick with Ronald Jones, trade down a little, draft Devin Bush, and Khalin Saunders in the second, and best player available after that.

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flashgordon

Well, I guess I can see how Khalen Saunders could fall.

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flashgordon

Well, I guess I can see how Khalen Saunders could fall.

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