Chris Jones led the Edmonton Football Team to one of the greatest years in franchise history in 2015, capping a 14-4 regular season with a 26-20 victory over Ottawa in the Grey Cup.
The 53-year-old departed for the Saskatchewan Roughriders just one week after the season was over to become the vice-president of football operations, general manager, and head coach in Regina. All these year’s later, he doesn’t regret the decision.
“I felt good about the move and I don’t ever look back and say that I did something,” Jones said on The Rod Pedersen Show. “Hindsight’s always 20/20 and so we enjoyed our time in Saskatchewan. We rebuilt the program there. They did some really good things the last season they were able to play with [head coach Craig Dickenson] and them, so I felt good about being able to rebuild it.”
Jones released a number of veteran players when he arrived in Saskatchewan, including fan favourites Weston Dressler and John Chick. After struggling to a 5-13 finish in 2016, quarterback Darian Durant was traded to the Montreal Alouettes.
The Riders improved dramatically the following year, led by the team’s stellar defence. Jones finished his tenure in Regina with a 27-27 regular season record, winning one playoff game in 2017.
Some fans in Edmonton are still upset with how Jones left the organization following the 2015 Grey Cup. The response on social media was divisive when the team’s former head coach expressed interest in a return to Edmonton following the resignation of Scott Milanovich.
“I really can’t do anything about people’s opinion, but every move I’ve ever made has been for some type of promotion,” said Jones. “I was able to essentially be the general manager and the head coach when I came to Saskatchewan, so 99 percent of the people in the world would do the same thing with the same opportunity to run the organization.”
When asked what his plans are for 2021, Jones was coy. He left Saskatchewan for a job with the Cleveland Browns in January 2019, though his contract is expiring. He knows what his future with the team is — or isn’t — but said he’s not currently allowed to talk about it.
If he’s sure about one thing, it’s that he won’t be taking the year off.
“I’m gonna coach somewhere,” said Jones. “I don’t know where, but I’m gonna coach somewhere this year. I’m a football coach first and foremost and always have been. I really don’t care where it’s at, but I’m gonna coach football this year.”