December 9, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back Chad Simpson is a man in the know.
He knows his team is getting towards desperate as they head into BC Place Stadium for a Monday date against the Lions toting a 1-4 mark through five games.
He's pretty confident he can provide some kind of boost for the team if they'd give him the ball just a little more.
And after the team's final practice of the week Saturday, the 27-year-old, in his second CFL season, sounded awfully confident that there's a better quarterback about to emerge from the circus that saw the starting job officially go to former backup Justin Goltz in the last week.
"Yeah, he's hungry to prove himself, and you've got to watch out for a guy like that," Simpson said when asked if he's noticed any difference in Goltz in the last week as the QB prepares for his second pro start Monday.
"He's focused and he's getting a little irritated on some of the throws. He wants the ball. It's plain and simple, and I like that.
"Whatever games he plays, he'll get way better. We haven't seen our best quarterback yet out of him. We haven't seen the best Goltz yet. It's going to come."
One element of a better Goltz should be a better and certainly more frequent distribution of the ball to difference-makers such as Simpson.
Bombers head coach Tim Burke seemed pretty focused on that for much of the last week.
"We could call more running plays," Burke said after Saturday's practice. "We could call more wildcat plays where it's a run-option with the tailback or the quarterback. We could get (Simpson) the ball on screens, we could throw him the ball on pass routes... we just need to get him the ball. Once you start doing that, then all facets probably start opening up."
The idea seems solid, but quarterback-running back chemistry doesn't just arrive via mail order.
"I can't... give away the plan," Simpson smiled, when asked how he might be getting the ball more this week or in future weeks. "Justin, he's also getting used to the game, so he has to get his groove with me. I believe we did that in practice this week where he's reading it way better. So I think it'll work out."
Simpson, who broke the 1,000-yard rushing mark (1,073) last season in just 14 games, doesn't necessarily have a lot of catching up to do if he's to eclipse that mark again, but it seems to be a pretty unanimous sentiment that he should be doing more for the Bombers than his 57 carries for 329 yards to this point.
How will he know when it's enough? "Wins and losses, but not really, because then that's putting it that we're losing because I'm not getting the ball enough," Simpson said. "And I'm not going to say that.
"It's basically... ideal carries for a running back is probably 20. Again, we've got to put ourselves in position to run the ball -- that's as a unit. That means me blocking like crazy when it's time to pass and helping extend drives. I figure once I do that that way, I should be able to get the ball more."
Simpson said he's not fixated on it.
"There's no pressure," he said. "It's what I play the game for. I'm sure everyone plays the game to be the guy. If my teammates feel that I'm good enough to get on my back and ride with me, that just gives me a great deal of confidence. It's not pressure at all."
In the meantime, he said he'll keep believing it when he hears the plan is to give him more touches.
"I believe it every time they tell me," he smiled. "Sometimes things happen in the game where I can't get the ball. That's CFL ball. It's just a matter of playing a complete game."
-- with files from Ed Tait
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 4, 2013 B3