Chris Jones shows cojones in Riders loss to Esks

The Spanish word for “testicles” is “cojones.”

How appropriate that the last name of Chris Jones, the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ on-field boss, is part of that word.

Jones showed he has cojones to spare in his team’s latest CFL game, when his aggressive decisions pulled the Roughriders ahead of the Edmonton Eskimos then cost them a chance at an overtime victory against the reigning Grey Cup champions.

The Roughriders lost 39-36 in overtime when they couldn’t convert a third-and-inches gamble. The great debate in Saskatchewan now becomes: Should Jones have gambled or should he have elected to try a most-certain field goal that would have tied the game and given the Roughriders and Eskimos one more possession apiece in overtime?

Jones told reporters last week his team would always use a quarterback sneak in those situations, but through two winless games the Riders have fumbled, slipped and otherwise blown four of their eight chances in short-yardage gambles.

“If you can’t gain a yard in those situations, you don’t deserve to be on the football field,’’ said Jones, leading into a realistic question about the CFL’s only winless team.

Do the Roughriders deserve to be on the field?

Well, they have totally rebuilt their roster in the months since Jones became head coach, general manager, vice-president of football operations and defensive co-ordinator. Realistically any team undergoing that big an overhaul shouldn’t be challenging the champions.

Yet after blowing 13-0 and 19-7 leads, the Roughriders were trailing 33-26 with about six minutes remaining when Jones called for an unexpected, successful short kickoff.

That possession ended with a field goal. Saskatchewan got the football again and drove 64 yards in eight plays to score a touchdown that put it ahead 36-33 with 19 seconds remaining.

So much for being aggressive. In the dying seconds the Roughriders — whose defence had been applying pressure all game — fell back into passive mode and allowed the Eskimos to move within range for a game-tying, 51-yard field goal.

In his post-game remarks Jones expressed misgiving about his passive, last-minute defensive calls.

He didn’t second-guess the failed quarterback sneak that occurred moments later.

He gave his team a chance to win with aggressive choices that were well-received by his players in their post-game interviews. Jones’ decisions also prevented the Riders from winning. He’’ll accept the heat that goes with his decisions. That takes coJones.

Darrell Davis has reported on the Riders for more than 20 years and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2006.