Chris Jones has been employed as the pinnacle coach and basic supervisor of Edmonton Elks
EDMONTON – Chris Jones made it clear on Tuesday, when he was introduced as the new coach and general manager of the Edmonton Elks, that not only does he intend to rebuild the football team, but also to establish himself as one of the greats of the CFL.
He said he would like his name to appear alongside Wally Buono, the CFL’s most successful coach of all time, and John Hufnagel, who is # 9 on the all-time coaching wins list.
“This is where I am trying to build a legacy,” Jones told the media Tuesday as he stood in the Elks’ locker room, surrounded by plaques bearing the names of some of the greatest greats in CFL history. “I won’t have a crystal ball in four years, but I can tell you we will work as hard as anyone. We’ll be organized, we’ll play quickly and have fun doing it. “
Jones, who led the Edmonton franchise to a 2015 Gray Cup win, was featured after the team’s Board of Governors unanimously voted Monday night to hire him as GM and coach. It’s a four year contract.
“This is one of the flagship organizations in the league,” said Jones. “We had so much fun when we were here with our employees before. It is an opportunity for us to come back and cement our legacy as a group and cement the legacy of this organization to get it back where it should be and that is, to win football matches – and be extremely competitive at all times, both in practice and in games. “
It was Buono who was commissioned by the board of directors to draw up a shortlist of coaching candidates. Jones said he spoke with Buono for more than 10 hours – in total – during the hiring process and that he is tapping wisdom from the CFL’s most successful coach and storing it on his cell phone.
“Now is the time to do it like Wally and Huf, sit down and do it for a long time and have fun doing it,” Jones said.
But before he can dive into history, Jones needs to fix a team that has many question marks, perhaps none more conspicuous than the quarterback position.
Last season the Elks made a late season trade to acquire veteran Nick Arbuckle, but then-GM Brock Sunderland and coach Jaime Elizondo chose not to play him on the track at all. They claimed he just didn’t have time to get used to the offensive scheme. Taylor Cornelius and Dakota Prukop got the snaps as the Elks gushed to goal with a 3-11 record. And for the first time the team survived a CFL season without a home win.
“Every team has to have a great quarterback, we are certainly no different,” said Jones, but cautioned that it would be at least a few months for the coaching staff to evaluate the position. So the radio talk show hosts will have a lot of “what-if” debates over the next few months when it comes to Edmonton Football.
The four-year deal is significant as Jones left many fans with bad taste when he left Edmonton to take the reins at the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the wake of the 2015 Gray Cup win. He then joined the coaching staff of the Cleveland Browns of the NFL before moving to the Toronto Argonauts as a defensive adviser.
He promised not only to work on rebuilding the Elks, but also to meet with high school coaches and build the sport in the community. Maybe one day back to the NFL?
“I’ve been to Disney World and I’m glad I’m here.”
He was enthusiastically received by Ian Murray, Chairman of the Elks Board of Governors.
“This is the first proactive step in solving the problems we were having,” said Murray.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on December 21, 2021.
Steven Sandor, The Canadian Press