Chris Jones’ future the first big question for 2019 Riders

There’s one massive question facing the Saskatchewan Roughriders that will directly affect their entire 2019 season, no not that one, or that other one.

While fans across the league are keeping an eye on the as-of-right-now non-existent CBA negotiations and as Rider fans think out loud about who their next quarterback will be, there’s actually a decision, one that could go a few different ways, that will change how those questions are answered.

What’s going to happen to the man in charge, Chris Jones?

As Jones enters the final year of his contract in Saskatchewan how that situation plays out could dramatically change the approach to the 2019 season.

The first possible outcome, and perhaps the least likely at this point, is that he’s not even in the CFL this year. NFL insider Jason La Canfora reported recently that a few teams have looked into Jones for a potential job. For what job, when and where? Who knows? Of course, initial investigations don’t mean much and La Canfora doesn’t have a perfect track record.

That being said, if this played out right away, then figuring out who will captain the ship in 2019 takes priority over finding a quarterback, at least for a few weeks. From there, a new plan will be set.

Another way this could go, and my gut says this might happen, is this is Jones’ last season in the CFL. Not because of poor performance, but because he feels his resume is ready to head south for either a high profile job in the NCAA or somewhere in the NFL.

Jones’ resume as a coach certainly suggests that it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Jones has been a very successful position coach, defensive coordinator and head coach in the CFL. Whether you think he’s a good GM or not doesn’t really matter right now because he’s not going to be given the keys to a franchise like he was in Saskatchewan with no NFL experience.

If this situation plays out, and this is Jones’ last season up north, then development probably won’t be on the top of his mind. It’s 2013 all over again and Jones is going all in to get a Grey Cup and then the re-build is on again in 2020 with let’s say general manager Jeremy O’Day.

The final option is that Jones does eventually sign an extension and remains in a role that’s worked for him to date. With a little more rope and a future in place, then the focus becomes a little wider. The goal will still be to win the Grey Cup, especially in a year where seemingly everyone is a free-agent and your division’s biggest road-block might seemingly lose a number of their best players, but there will still be more of an eye on beyond this season. That will tweak the team’s approach in free agency, drafting and American scouting.

On the field, the Riders biggest question remains who will be under centre, but the Jones question needs to be answered before we know which way the team might go.

Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic. He is also a beer aficionado.