AFC West: Chris Simms

TebowRon Chenoy/US PresswireThere are mixed opinions about the challenges of having a left-handed quarterback like Tim Tebow.
Brock Huard quickly returned a phone message.

“I don’t get a chance to talk about left-handed quarterbacks much,” Huard said. "You don’t see it much. I go to a lot of youth football camps and the quarterbacks are almost always right-handed. It seems all the lefties are playing baseball. ... I’m interested to see Tim Tebow because we lefties are hard to come by.”

Huard, now a college football analyst for ESPN, is a member of a rare club. He was a southpaw gunslinger as a backup in Seattle and Indianapolis from 1999-2004. The NFL is a right-handed quarterback’s game. Only 12 left-handed quarterback have started more than 50 NFL games.

The only lefty currently slated to be a starter in 2010 is Arizona’s Matt Leinart and his status is far from solid. The only other left-handed quarterbacks currently in the NFL are backups Mark Brunell, Michael Vick, Chris Simms, Pat White and Tyler Palko.

Besides Brunell and Vick, the last truly successful left-handed quarterbacks were Pro Football Hall of Famer Steve Young and Boomer Esiason. Other successful left-handed quarterbacks throughout the years include Ken Stabler, Jim Zorn, Bobby Douglass and Frankie Albert.

Being left-handed is one of the reasons Tebow enters the NFL with such intense interest. The intrigue is not just whether the former Florida quarterback can prove he simply wasn’t a Saturday star with an awkward delivery. People are eager to see if Tebow can become the next lefty to succeed in the league.

“I have no doubt that he can,” said Houston quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp. "I know it can happen."

Knapp would know. He coached Young in San Francisco and Vick in Atlanta.

“I’ve seen it firsthand,” Knapp said. "Don’t tell me left-handed quarterbacks can’t make it in this league. I know it can be done.”

(Read full post)

Oakland and Denver notes

April, 12, 2010
Quarterback Jason Campbell signed his restricted free-agency tender with Washington. That clears the way for Campbell to be traded.

It was reported last week that Oakland has interest in Campbell, who lost his job last week when the Redskins traded for Donovan McNabb. Campbell is trying to get traded and he will not attend the team’s voluntary minicamp next week. It seems if Oakland really wants Campbell it should be able to get him for a mid-round draft pick.
  • Snuck in a solid read in the Oakland Tribune on the misperception of the Raiders looking to draft renegades is the news that the Raiders brought back linebacker Sam Williams.
  • Quarterback Chris Simms signed with Tennessee. He was cut by Denver last month after playing one season with the Broncos.
  • The ESPN “30 for 30” film Straight Outta L.A will premier May 11. The film directed by Raiders’ fan Ice Cube documents the team’s influence on the city in the 1980s.
  • UPDATE: Florida cornerback Joe Haden said on ESPN on Monday that the Raiders are one of the four teams that have talked to him the most. Oakland has the No. 8 pick.
The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that an unnamed team has offered Oakland a second-round pick this year and a first-round pick next year for the No. 8 overall choice next month.

Getting a first-round pick in 2011 would be intriguing to Oakland because it gave up its top pick to New England for defensive end Richard Seymour.

Still, this seems a little steep. Oakland really needs its top pick this year. The Raiders need too much to not have a pick until No. 39. There is bound to be plenty of moving and shaking in the next 23 days before the draft starts. It seems like the draft-pick jockeying has begun.

The Kansas City Chiefs hired Adam Zimmer as a defensive assistant/assistant linebacker coach. He was with New Orleans. He is the son of Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.

Dallas sources are shooting down talk that running back Marion Barber could be on the trade block. If he were on the block, it wouldn’t be a surprise if San Diego looked into it. The Chargers are expected to draft at least one running back.

Quarterback Chris Simms, who was recently cut by Denver, visited Tennessee on Tuesday.

The Raiders and Chargers were represented at the Pro Day of Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant on Tuesday.

Report: Denver cuts Simms

March, 15, 2010
Well, that didn’t take long.

The Denver Post has reported that Denver has released backup quarterback Chris Simms. He became expendable when the Broncos traded for Cleveland’s Brady Quinn on Sunday.

Denver will go with a quarterback trio of starter Kyle Orton, backup Quinn and No. 3 quarterback Tom Brandstater in 2010. While Quinn will have to fight to be the starter, he is a clear upgrade over Simms as a backup.

Simms was terrible in a limited role while playing for an injured Orton last year.

Meanwhile, Orton told the Denver Post that he will report to the team’s offseason workout program Friday. This is a sign of commitment by Orton. He is a restricted free agent, and until he signs his tender (which isn’t due for months) he doesn’t have to attend the offseason program.
My reaction to the Denver Broncos’ decision to trade for Brady Quinn?

Why not?

It's worth taking a chance on this former No. 1 pick. Denver did not give up much for Quinn, swapping backup running back Peyton Hillis, a sixth-round pick in 2011 and a conditional 2012 pick for Quinn.

That’s not a whole lot for a former first-round pick who is just 25 years old. Quinn may be heading toward bust status, but he has not been officially written off as a wasted prospect.

Denver coach Josh McDaniels has a great reputation for working with quarterbacks. Quinn fits McDaniels’ system. McDaniels made Matt Cassel a strong player in New England in 2008 and Kyle Orton performed well much of last season under McDaniels.

Maybe McDaniels can help Quinn reach his potential. Quinn will likely be very comfortable with McDaniels coaching him. Quinn played for Charlie Weis at Notre Dame. McDaniels is a Weis protégée.

Denver considered making a run at Quinn last year. The price tag would have been much higher. Denver got Quinn at a bargain basement price Sunday because Cleveland washed its hands of him. Quinn was 2-7 as Cleveland’s starter last year. He was mistake prone.

It does say something that new Cleveland head honcho Mike Holmgren had no interest in keeping Quinn. Holmgren knows his way around a quarterback room.

Still, McDaniels sees something in Quinn and he didn’t overspend to get him. It is worth it. If Quinn is the same bumbling player in practice in Denver as he was in games in Cleveland, it will go down as a low-cost mistake.

Orton will likely go into the 2010 season as the starter, but Quinn will be given the chance to compete with him and make his case to be the long-term quarterback. At the very least, Quinn appears to be an upgrade at backup quarterback over Chris Simms, who was atrocious last year when he had to play for an injured Orton.

Orton will surely feel more heat from Quinn this summer than he did from Simms last year. Denver brought in Quinn to see if he can become a solid starter at some point. Orton has to know it. Simms was never a threat.

It will be interesting to see if Orton shows up for Denver’s offseason conditioning program that starts Monday. Orton is a restricted free agent (he was given the first-round tender) and most restricted free agents aren’t expected to report to the offseason programs because they won’t sign their tenders until the summer. Perhaps Orton will feel the need to show up.

Or perhaps he will stay away as a form of protest.

I don’t expect Quinn to be ready to beat out Orton right away. It may take McDaniels some time to help Quinn erase his past on-field demons. But if Quinn has a good training camp and a better preseason than Orton, Denver might want to give him a chance to become the long-term answer at quarterback.

Quinn’s arrival in Denver may mean the Broncos won’t draft a quarterback early and go with a trio of Orton, Quinn and 2009 sixth-round pick Tom Brandstater in 2010.

In short, this move gives Denver options and it gives it a chance to resurrect the career of a player who was considered a top-flight prospect just three years ago.

At the price, it was a worthy trade.

AFC West mailbag

March, 10, 2010
Mid-week mail call:

Adam from Rochester, New York wants to know if Jake Delhomme could end up in Denver.

Bill Williamson: I don’t think Delhomme goes there as a starter. Maybe as a backup if he can’t find a better situation. Delhomme, who Carolina cut last week, may not fit with Denver coach Josh McDaniels. He prefers ball-control quarterbacks. Delhomme is far too careless with the ball for McDaniels’ liking. He would offer more insurance as a backup than Chris Simms, I just don’t know if McDaniels would want to do down that road.

Coty from Ohio wants to know if Oakland could pursue Baltimore restricted free agent quarterback Troy Smith.

BW: I think this is a good pairing. It would cost a fifth-round pick to get Smith. Smith would reunite with new Oakland offensive coordinator Hue Jackson. If Jackson thinks Smith has a chance to develop, it might be worth the Raiders time to pursue him. I’d think Smith would offer good competition to Bruce Gradkowski and JaMarcus Russell.

Dan from Syracuse wants to know why running back Justin Fargas was released in Oakland.

BW: The Raiders said he failed a physical, but Fargas maintains it was a financial move. I believe Fargas. Oakland owed him a $1.7 million bonus. This was all about money and nothing else.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting Cleveland is shopping quarterback Brady Quinn.

Quinn has some connections to the AFC West. Let’s look if a trade to the division is feasible.


Connection: The Broncos were connected in trade speculation about Quinn before the draft and earlier this year in a potential trade for receiver Brandon Marshall.

Is it a fit? If Quinn came cheaply -- a fourth-round pick or lower -- Denver could take a flyer. He would be an upgrade over backup Chris Simms and he could compete with quarterback Kyle Orton. At this point, Quinn is not a clear upgrade over Orton. Denver would not surrender a significant amount to get him.

Kansas City

Connection: Quinn played for new Kansas City offensive coordinator Charlie Weis at Notre Dame.

Is it a fit? Weis could be tempted to take Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen with the No. 5 pick in next month’s draft. Under that logic, perhaps Weis would want Quinn. But there is a big difference. Quinn has shown playing in the NFL hasn’t come easy to him. Would it be worth upsetting big-money quarterback Matt Cassel to take a risk with Quinn? Probably not. The Chiefs like backup Brodie Croyle. While the Chiefs will likely consider Quinn because of Weis, it isn’t a a sure thing.


Connection: The Raiders studied Quinn in the 2007 draft when they had the No. 1 overall pick. The Raiders chose quarterback JaMarcus Russell instead.

Is it a fit? Quinn and Russell have both been disappointments. Still, Quinn isn’t worse than Russell. Like Denver, if the Raiders could get Quinn cheaply, it wouldn‘t be the worst idea to throw him in the competition with Russell and Bruce Gradkowski.

San Diego

No chance.
INDIANAPOLIS -- While the Broncos are expected to trade likely restricted free agent receiver Brandon Marshall, Denver coach Josh McDaniels said that is not necessarily the case.

Asked Saturday at the NFL combine if Marshall could be in a Denver uniform in 2010, McDaniels said “certainly.”

McDaniels said there is no timetable to hash out Marshall’s situation. He will likely become a restricted free agent Friday and there is expected to be interest on the trade market. An NFL head coach said Friday he thinks Denver will get a first-round pick in return for Marshall.

"I’m fond of Brandon,” McDaniels said. “He’s a good person and he’s been huge to our team.”

Still, if Denver gets a decent offer expect it to deal Marshall.

Here are other highlights from McDaniels’ session:

• Tight Tony Scheffler could also return. Scheffler is a likely restricted free agent and was suspended for the final game of the season along with Marshall for accountability issues.

• Third-year running back Peyton Hillis will remain on the team and McDaniels is looking forward to getting Hillis more involved. He expects to see third-year receiver Eddie Royal bounce back as well. Both Hillis and Royal were much less productive in McDaniels’ first season than they were as rookies in 2008.

• McDaniels is following the Darrent Williams murder trial and is up to speed on Elvis Dumervil and Marshall’s testimony.

• No. 2 quarterback Chris Simms could remain with the team and McDaniels is happy with Tom Brandstater' progress. McDaniels said the team has “high hopes” for Brandstater in the long run.

• McDaniels is confident new defensive coordinator Don Martindale will “do a phenomenal job.” Martindale, who coached Denver’s linebackers last season, replaced Mike Nolan. McDaniels said Martindale had the support of several of Denver’s players.

• Second-year player Seth Olsen is a candidate to start at left guard and center. McDaniels wants the team to get bigger on the offensive line and that’s one of the reasons why starting center Casey Wiegmann was cut this week.
There are several players on AFC West rosters who will be paying great attention to Thursday night’s BCS championship game between Alabama and Texas.

The following is a list of alumni from the two schools currently on AFC West rosters:



QB Chris Simms



RB Tim Castille

QB Brodie Croyle

DE Wallace Gilberry

DE Bobby Greenwood


RB Jamaal Charles

LB Derrick Johnson

DT Derek Lokey



S Michael Huff



CB Simeon Castille, practice squad.


CB Quentin Jammer

Orton cleared to practice

November, 23, 2009
Denver quarterback Kyle Orton looks like he is on his way to starting on a short week Thursday night against the visiting New York Giants as the Broncos try to snap a four-game losing streak and stay relevant in the playoff hunt.

The team pronounced Orton ready to practice Monday as the Broncos try to rebound from a 32-3 home loss to San Diego on Sunday in which the Chargers took sole possession of first place in the AFC West. The team did not practice but put out the participation list as a league mandate because the game is three days away. Thus, it appears Orton is on schedule to play Thursday. Orton didn’t practice all last week leading up to the game.

Orton didn’t start the game. But he did spell backup Chris Simms in the second quarter as Denver fell behind, 13-0. Simms struggled badly. Orton gave Denver a spark and played pretty well, despite limping badly.

After the game, Denver coach Josh McDaniels said he didn’t think Orton suffered a setback in the game, he was hurt Nov. 15 at Washington and he missed the second half.

While Orton is making strides toward playing Thursday, safety Brian Dawkins may be in jeopardy of not playing. He left in the first half Sunday with a neck injury and he did not return. Dawkins was not ready to practice Monday.

Denver right tackle Ryan Harris was not ready to practice with a toe injury. Harris was hurt Nov. 1 against Baltimore and hasn’t played since. Denver’s line play has suffered without Harris.
Philip RiversAP Photo/Jack DempseyPhilip Rivers led the Chargers into sole possession of first place in the AFC West.

DENVER -- The San Diego Chargers were in control before the game even started Sunday against the desperate but still cocksure Denver Broncos.

As they did a month ago in San Diego, the Broncos huddled near where the Chargers were warming up. Some Denver players were facing the Chargers and pointing. It appeared as though no San Diego player even noticed the Broncos’ bait job. The Chargers were far more interested in stretching their muscles than their tongues.

On Oct.19, the Chargers were incensed when Denver pulled the same trick on their home field. A shoving match ensued before the Broncos went on to beat the Chargers and take a commanding 3.5-game lead over San Diego in the AFC West.

A lot has changed since then.

“That stuff wasn’t going to work this time,” said San Diego linebacker Shawne Merriman, who was said Denver’s display last month was disrespectful. “We weren’t interested in any of that stuff [Sunday]. We were interested in winning the football game.”

Denver coach Josh McDaniels also got involved in the pregame chatter. He exchanged trash talk (which he told the San Diego Union Tribune that Chargers players started) with some San Diego linebackers. After the game, Chargers linebacker Shaun Phillips called McDaniels “a little cocky [rear end].”

The Broncos had nothing Sunday -- not even effective pregame bravado.

The Chargers completed an amazing month in the division by plastering the Broncos 32-3 on their home field. Denver was completely outclassed by the Chargers, who appear to be the team they were expected to be in the preseason.

“We had it working today,” San Diego safety Eric Weddle said. “We knew what we were playing for.”

The Chargers were playing for power in the AFC West. And they got it. San Diego is 7-3 and leads Denver (6-4) by a game with six to go. The Chargers have an easier schedule down the stretch than the stumbling Broncos, who have to regroup and play host to the New York Giants on Thursday night. San Diego, which is in the hunt to earn a playoff bye, has two games remaining against teams with winning records.

The Chargers are poised to win their fourth straight division title. If they do, it will be the third straight year in which they came from behind to do so. San Diego started 5-5 in 2007 before winning its final six games. Last year, the Chargers became the first team to start 4-8 and make the playoffs as they won their final four games and Denver lost its final three games.

“Same old Chargers,” Weddle said.”This year, we’re starting early.”

The Broncos joined the 2003 Vikings as teams that won their first six games and then lost their next four games. The Vikings finished 9-7 and out of the playoffs that year. No NFL team has ever had a 3.5-game division lead and not made the playoffs.

In no way do the Broncos resemble the team of the first six weeks. The Broncos, who were given a spark by an injured Kyle Orton in the second quarter, were careless on offense (they lost two fumbles in San Diego territory, one coming in the end zone) and are worn down on defense. Denver had no pass rush against the Chargers and was riddled again on the ground as San Diego had 203 yards rushing.

“The plays that we were making when we were 6-0 we are no longer making,” Denver defensive end Vonnie Holliday said. “We have to regroup.”

The Chargers entered the game knowing they had the Broncos where they wanted them.

“We knew if we played the way we are capable, that we’re a better football team,” Weddle said. “We showed them that today.”

From the pregame warm-ups forward.

Rivers light up Denver again: After the loss last month, San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers was back to his dominant self against the Broncos. He has won six of his last eight meetings against Denver.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, Rivers has completed at least 60 percent of his pass attempts against Denver in the past eight games. In his past six games against Denver, Rivers has 12 touchdown passes and one interception.

Rivers was a tidy 17-of-22 for 145 yards against Denver. He had one touchdown pass and no interceptions. He made every play he needed to as the Chargers cruised after taking a 13-0 lead at the half. Rivers completed 13-of-14 passes in the first half.

Orton shows toughness: The question, privately, in the San Diego locker room was why Denver didn’t start Orton. He didn’t start because of a badly sprained ankle. But after backup Chris Simms -- who played poorly in the second half at Washington last week in a loss that may haunt Denver -- was ineffective, Orton was put in with the Broncos down 13-0.

He completed his first three passes and led Denver to the goal line, where rookie running back Knowshon Moreno lost a fumble in the end zone. Had Denver scored there, it would have had all the momentum.

Orton finished the game and was 15-of-29 for 171 yards. The Broncos hope he can play against the Giants.

McDaniels said Orton didn’t start because Simms had all the practice reps last week and Orton wasn’t fully healthy.

“Give Orton credit,” Weddle said. “He showed a lot of toughness and he played pretty well.”

Broncos squabble on the sideline: Denver receiver Brandon Marshall got into Moreno’s face after his fumble at the goal line. Moreno, a rookie, responded by shoving the four-year veteran. Moreno tried to go after Marshall on the sideline and had to be restrained by teammates.

“It was frustrating,” Marshall said. “Those are plays that kind of kill drives and we need to punch it in next time.”

McDaniels downplayed the altercation.

“We’ve got a lot of emotional players on our team,” McDaniels said. “Obviously, we don’t want it make scenes or problems for ourselves on the sideline. There are a lot of things that happen on the sideline that involve emotion.”

Orton is playing

November, 22, 2009
DENVER -- Kyle Orton is playing -- and playing well.

He looks gimpy, but Orton completed his first three passes of the game for 58 yards. His return (and Denver’s return to competition in the game) was spoiled when rookie Knowshon Moreno fumbled at the goal line. San Diego recovered and scored a touchdown. Instead of Denver coming within one score of San Diego, the Chargers have a 13-0 halftime lead.

The good news for Denver is that Orton looks good. He took over for Chris Simms. Simms was ineffective. He completed two of four passes for 10 yards and he lost a fumble.

Moreno and Denver receiver Brandon Marshall were yelling at each other after Moreno’s fumble.

Orton looks like he's coming in

November, 22, 2009
Denver -- Kyle Orton is warming up on the sideline and it looks like he is going to play in Denver's next possession. San Diego is leading 10-0 in the second quarter.

Chris Simms has completed 2 of 4 passes for 10 yards. He also lost a fumble. Orton has a badly sprained ankle and he did not practice all week.

Simms gets the start in Denver

November, 22, 2009
DENVER – Chris Simms is quarterbacking the Broncos.

Kyle Orton is the backup because of a badly sprained knee. This is Simms’ first start in more than three years.
DENVER -- Chris Simms is expected to start on Sunday against San Diego in a game for first place against the Chargers. But starter Kyle Orton is active. At this point, it is likely as a backup.

Simms, who hasn’t started an NFL game in more than three years, was expected to get the nod because Orton has a badly sprained ankle and didn’t practice all week.

If Simms starts, it will create several challenges for the Broncos as they try to end a three-game skid.

The Chargers had an unannounced visit with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, which players had a chance to voice concerns.

Oakland placed linebacker Ricky Brown on injured reserve, ending his season. He had been out several weeks with an ankle injury. Linebacker David Nixon was promoted from the practice squad to replace Brown.

Denver rookie linebacker Robert Ayers is inactive for the first time this season. He was the No. 18 overall draft pick. He was not on the injury report this week.

The game-time temperature is expected to 49 degrees with clear skies.

Kansas City linebacker Andy Studebaker has two interceptions. He is starting in place of the injured Mike Vrabel.