|05-21-2007, 03:45 AM||#1|
Chiefs > Broncos
Join Date: Apr 2004
Small world: Larry Coyer talking up Ryan Sims in Tampa
As the Bucs sort out their newfound depth on the D-line, Ryan Sims' ability to play both tackle spots could help
May 19, 2007
It became obvious to Ryan Sims in training camp a year ago that he wasn’t an integral part of the Kansas City Chiefs’ plans for 2006.
Sims was disappointed by this, understandably. He was the fourth overall pick in the 2002 draft and he was still only 26 years old, so his NFL career once had great promise and he believed that potential still existed. He began to contemplate where he could best make a fresh start, if given the opportunity.
Sims’ top choice: Tampa.
And so it was a matter of great serendipity when, three days shy of his 27th birthday, Sims was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for an undisclosed future draft pick. Sims wasn’t surprised that his five-year tenure in Kansas City had come to an end – he believes Head Coach Herm Edwards has been putting his own stamp on the roster since replacing Dick Vermeil last year – but landing in Tampa through no action of his own was a stroke of luck.
“It was kind of crazy,” Sims admitted. “This is where I was hoping to come. It was kind of crazy. After training camp last year I wasn’t too happy and this was the number-one place on my list if I could go anywhere. So, obviously, I’m happy to be here.”
Just a few years ago, Sims was happy to be in Kansas City. A dislocated elbow limited him to six games and two starts as a rookie, but he impressed the Chiefs with his ability to put pressure on the quarterback up the gut of the pocket. Sims’ first career start came against Edwards’ Jets and he contributed four tackles, one in the backfield. A week later, however, he hurt his elbow on the first series against San Diego.
In 2003, he won the starting nose tackle job and had his best season, racking up 83 tackles, three sacks and an interception. Larry Coyer, who at the time was in his first season as the Denver Broncos’ defensive coordinator, said his crew had “great respect” for Sims when those two AFC West rivals squared off.
In 2004, Sims totals slipped a bit to 30 tackles and two sacks, but he still had a career-high 16 “quarterback pressures” and the Chiefs were still high on him going into 2005 after he put together an outstanding training camp. Unfortunately that season was largely lost to a foot injury, and the offseason brought Vermeil’s retirement and the trade for Edwards’ rights. Sims hardly played in 2006, appearing in all 16 games but didn’t start any and had a total of seven tackles on the season. His ’05 injury was not an issue; Sims insists it was a matter of not being in the favor of the new staff.
As Coyer said, Sims “just disappeared.” But now that he’s resurfaced in Tampa, the former North Carolina star can see the silver lining in his relatively inactive ’06. He believes his best football is still in front of him.
“I think so, I really do,” said Sims. “I had a good chance to rest up last year, so I can be thankful for that. Now I just want to play ball, that’s it.”
And play it in his preferred destination, to boot. Sims’ desire to come to the Buccaneers was a combination of geographical and strategic concerns.
“I wanted to get back to the East Coast, number-one,” he said. “I wanted to get back to the South. And I wanted to go somewhere where they were going to invest in the defense. This team definitely does not mind investing in the defense. It’s like a D-lineman’s dream to come to Tampa Bay.”
The Bucs have indeed invested in their defense and reaped the dividends during the past decade. They ranked in the top 10 of the league’s defensive rankings for an incredible nine straight seasons (1997-2005) and rode that wrecking crew, at its height, to the Super Bowl XXXVII title. However, Sims arrives at a time when that defense is going through a reconstruction phase. In particular, a defensive line that produced just 19 sacks last year (the team as a whole had 25, its lowest total in 11 years) is getting a new look. By drafting Gaines Adams in the first round and Greg Peterson in the fifth and importing Sims, Kevin Carter and Patrick Chukwurah, the Bucs are at the very least making sure they have renewed depth up front.
Like Carter and Chukwurah, Sims can help the Bucs make the most of that depth by being versatile. He played both defensive tackle positions in Kansas City and expects to do the same in Tampa. At the moment, he is working primarily at nose tackle, but both he and Coyer expect him to expand his role later.
“They’re obviously looking for a three-technique [tackle] here,” said Sims, accurately portraying the Bucs’ ongoing efforts to find another impact player at the crucial “under tackle” position. “Right now I’m just trying to figure out the defense and it’s easier to figure it out at the nose right now. I’ll get solid in there and then try to compete for a job anywhere.”
Sims is also trying to drop a few pounds, from about 330 down to 320 or so, but Coyer says he will do that with ease. Though they have commonly employed smaller, quicker tackles, the Bucs aren’t opposed to Sims’ size. The slight weight loss is simply a matter of improving flexibility and, therefore, leverage.
Coyer also doesn’t believe Sims will have any trouble learning a couple roles in the Bucs’ defense, thanks to the player’s willingness to work.
“I think the kid’s got a great attitude,” said the coach. “He’s a big, talented sucker. When he gets his weight back to where he needs to get it, he’s going to be effective. He was inactive last season; he really didn’t play football. I don’t think he’ll have any trouble with [dropping weight] in this weather. When he can get himself bent and cocked, he’s a powerful guy. He’s a guy you don’t want to be too small. You want him to be up there, but there’s that line.”
It’s easy to see why Sims coveted a move to Tampa. He could thrive in the Buccaneers’ defense in the same manner that Greg Spires has after four relatively unassuming seasons in Cleveland and New England. He could rekindle a once-promising career the way Chris Hovan has after the Minnesota Vikings similarly excised him from their plans. Coyer is eager to see Sims try.
“He’s a great-looking prospect to me,” said Coyer. “He was one of the top six guys taken [in the 2002 draft], so there’s something there. Sometimes you just need a fresh start.”