The Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ season of frustration continues, but a ray of light may have emerged. Defeated by the Toronto Argonauts 25-22 on Wednesday to stay as the only winless team in the CFL at 0-4 and seeing one more keystone player get injured, Big Blue needed a feel-good story. It looks like they might have found one in Chad Simpson.
The 26-year-old native of Miami, Florida is listed at 5-foot-9 and 204 pounds. He played his college ball at Morgan State University and has seen time with the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins as a running back and kick returner.
In his first game replacing import RB Chris Garrett (who will miss the season after tearing his left Achilles tendon in practice), Simpson had 15 carries for 91 yards and added a reception for 31 yards. While those numbers won’t get him into the Hall of Fame, it’s better than anything else the Blue and Gold were able to muster on offence.
Alex Brink completed only nine of 34 pass attempts in Toronto, and never established any kind of rhythm with the offence. Now head coach Paul LaPolice is apparently rethinking whether Brink or rookie Joey Elliot will be the starting signal-caller when the Bombers finally open at home next week against the Edmonton Eskimos; ironically, the Green and Gold are currently going through their own quarterback quandary, and there’s no telling at this point whether the Bombers defence will face Steven Jyles or Kerry Joseph.
While Simpson showed that he can handle the load, there is some question at this point whether he is in shape to be the feature back. He picked up his own (undisclosed) injury in the third quarter and wasn’t involved in much of the rest of the game. The Bombers had better hope Simpson is ready to go by next Thursday: so far they’ve lost 10 starters to injury in what has started off as a season from hell.
The Bombers have turned out to be one of the more compelling stories in Canadian football, generally for all the wrong reasons. Things were so much more promising in 2011: they started their season 7-1 and “Swaggerville” was born. Its “mayor,” defensive end Odell Willis, was unstoppable, piling up 13 sacks on his way to being named a CFL All-Star. They took their game all the way to the Grey Cup final, where they lost to the B.C. Lions.
Then Willis found himself traded to the Saskatachewan Roughriders for two draft picks. Then they experienced delays in their new stadium; Investors Group Field won’t be ready until 2013. Then the injuries began to mount, and so did the losses. They need Simpson, among others, to help them reverse that streak: breaking that string of losses at home would be a good start.