R.I.P. Saskatchewan Roughriders’ Chris Jones Era (2015-2019)
Well, that was interesting, if short. One week after signing an extension with the Saskatchewan Roughriders to serve as the team’s head coach/defensive coordinator/general manager/club vice president, Chris Jones has stepped down from his post(s) to take a low-on-the-pole job with the Cleveland Browns.
Jones took the Saskatchewan job within a fortnight of leading the Edmonton Eskimos to a win in the 2015 Grey Cup and the feeling in Riderville was even more optimistic than usual. After all, this is a guy who had won Grey Cups with four different teams in various posts – as defensive line coach with the Montreal Alouettes, as DC with the Calgary Stampeders, as DC/assistant head coach/assistant GM with the Toronto Argonauts, and as head coach with the Eskimos.
(CFLpass supposed that the thinking in Regina must’ve been that since Jones had done every job in the CFL, the only challenge remaining was to take all the jobs simultaneously.)
Once Jones took over the post, the revolving door of players began spinning. Without fear of exaggeration, CFL pass can guess that in either 2016 or ’17 a good half of the league’s total transactions to and from the 46-man roster involved Saskatchewan. An incredible 80 players saw action for the Riders in 2016, and another two were at least temporarily listed on the roster.
The traffic to and fro continued into ’17, but Jones nevertheless got his nomadic Riders to a 10-6 record and a fourth-place finish in the West division; the bottoming-out of 2015 under Corey Chamblin was nearly forgotten – that is, until Jones & Co. met the Toronto Argonauts, veteran quarterback Ricky Ray and new defensive coordinator Corey Chamblin in the East final. Sadly for the CFL’s most fanatical fan base, this would be as close as Jones’s Riders would ever get to brining the Grey Cup back to Regina.
Jones now enters the second phase of his career with the low-end job of defensive assistant in Cleveland, a franchise thought among NFL fandom to be on the rise. He’ll be working under newly-hired defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and head coach Freddie Kitchens, who went from wide receivers coach to offensive coordinator during the Not-So-Great Cleveland Coaching Shakeup of 2018.
NFLbets is almost sad that HBO probably won’t break precedent and bring us a second consecutive year of a Browns-centric season of “Hard Knocks,” as the seemingly hardworking new lot is now match for the, likesay, oddballs led by Hue Jackson in the 2018 edition of the show. CFL pass will certainly miss Jones’s four-letter presence on CFL sidelines, as well as his thoughtful interaction with Canadian media.
Good luck, coach Jones! We’ll certainly be seeing you again down the road...