Former Saskatchewan Roughrider vice president of football operations and head coach Chris Jones has made his first public comments since resigning from the club on Tuesday to take a job with the Cleveland Browns, giving an interview to Murray McCormick of the Regina Leader-Post.
(Given that Murray was a frequent thorn in Jones’ side over the last three years makes this get by one of the league’s long-standing beat writers all the more impressive.)
Anyway, McCormick has his own story that’s worth reading but here are five takeaways from what Jones had to say.
1. Legendary former NFL head coach Bill Parcells reached out to new Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens to help get Jones the opportunity.
“So coach Parcells, who I’m close with, he reached out to Freddie on my behalf. He gave Freddie his first job at Dallas. So then the GM reached out and then Freddie reached out and they wanted me to come in on an interview. I let Craig know, then came in on an interview [on Tuesday] and they offered me the job.”
2. New Saskatchewan assistant general manager Paul Jones, who joined the club just a few weeks ago after spending two decades in Edmonton, also played an integral role and the Browns reached out to former Montreal, Toronto and Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman for a reference check on Jones.
“Paul Jones and the GM here, John Dorsey they know each other real well… [the Browns] started looking at the success that we’ve had at different places and then they reached out to Marc Trestman and Marc Trestman said some good things about me,”
3. Jones recently signed with U.S. based agent Don Yee, who also represents Tom Brady and Drew Brees: that’s something you do when you’re thinking about making a move to the NFL.
“I found there was a lot of interest. I recently signed with Don Yee, an agent out of Los Angeles, coach Parcells hooked that up, too… We knew there was some interest but this one here, it seemed like they had really done their homework and that they were really interested in me joining them,”
4. Joining Kitchens early in his tenure – he was just hired as head coach – and Paul Jones’ relationship with Dorsey were clearly factors in the decision.
“No. 1, you want to get on the ground floor, first year of a contract with a head coach – you don’t want to go in with a guy that’s been there four or five years because it might be one year and done.
“I’ve known Freddie for a long time and Paul Jones is very close with the GM here and so everything I can gather about John Dorsey has been positive. I’m not getting any younger so if I’m going to make this move, the timing just seemed right.”
5 Jones offered some clarity as to what his role entails.
“I am the senior defensive assistant so basically I work very closely with the defensive coordinator. I’m an extra set of eyes at all three levels and that kind of thing,”
6. Jones did not know new Browns defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, who was the head coach in Arizona last season, before taking the job.
“He’s been around the game a long time. I shared a bunch of things with him and we seemed to really hit it off from the word go. Went to dinner last night, stayed up and talked and stuff until late last night. It looks like it’s going to be a really good fit.
6. Jones says the new football operations salary cap wasn’t a factor in his decision but he says it could be an issue for other coaches in the future.
“It didn’t have anything to do with my decision. More so now than in the past, coaches can’t just sit back… they have to take a good hard look at it now because of the cap. You’re landlocked basically. They aren’t doing that in U.S. football at that college or at the NFL level. And you can’t coach forever. You have to try and make what you can. But like I saw, I didn’t weight into my factor.
7. For a guy that didn’t show much by the way of warm and fuzzy sentiment during his career, he said some nice things about the CFL and Saskatchewan on his way out the door.
“I love Saskatchewan. It’s been a great ride. People get up in the morning and the first thing that they do is they think about Roughrider football. There’s no place better for that in the league.”
“I spent 17 years up there and I have some wonderful, lifelong friends that come from that league. I don’t regret a minute of spending the entire time that I spent up there. There’s a lot of memories. I love the players, I love the coaches and I’ve got four championship rings that I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t gone to that league. It’s been a blessing.”