Elks analyst Eddie Steele believes Chris Jones would be ‘well-received’ if he replaced Sunderland, Elizondo

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

Elks radio analyst Eddie Steele has made himself abundantly clear, he is not a fan of the team’s current management.

The former CFL defensive tackle took to The Rod Pedersen Show earlier this week to direct his ire at current Edmonton general manager Brock Sunderland. If the arrow of blame he believes is pointed squarely in that direction becomes fatal, there is one potential replacement who particularly excites him: former Elks head coach Chris Jones.

The 2015 Grey Cup winner recently returned to the CFL to serve as a defensive consultant and now de facto coordinator with the the Toronto Argonauts, but he is unlikely to be satisfied long without control of a full team. Edmonton could soon offer that opportunity.

“We both feel the same way about him and he’s a winner, but that would take a lot of change,” Steele told Pedersen. “We’ve seen a lot of change over the years, but I just don’t know if the Elks have it in them to make a move like that. That’s a gutsy move organizationally.”

Jones made his CFL coaching debut in 2002 with the Montreal Alouettes, but first took the head coaching reins in 2014 with Edmonton, where he would help guide the green and yellow to a Grey Cup championship in 2015 after a 14-4 regular season. Jones unceremoniously departed the club following that win to become the head coach and general manager of the Saskatchewan Roughriders the following season, He held that role until taking a job as a defensive assistant with the Cleveland Browns in 2019.

Jones’ reputation north of the border precedes itself, but there is still bad blood for the way he left the Green and Gold. As a core member of Jones’ Edmonton team who later joined him in Saskatchewan, Steele believes that would be easily forgiven and forgotten were he to fix the internal failings caused by Sunderland.

“I think he’d be well-received coming back here. I’ve already seen here on social media people are calling for him to come back here, even though it wasn’t the best departure after we won the Grey Cup. He kind of just jetted off and took his whole coaching staff,” Steele said.

“Man, stranger things have happened and it would be a pretty cool addition if he did come back out here. He’d probably be calling me up offering me a job, but I’d have to say no.”

The problem with this hypothetical scenario is that Jones would demand the salary and control of both head coach and general manager. The Elks organization seems woe to cast first-time head coach Jaime Elizondo onto the scrap heap so quickly and Steele doesn’t believe he deserves the same treatment as Sunderland, making a triumphant Jones return more of a pipe dream than potential 2022 scenario.

“I could see it happening, but I think that’s a long shot. I don’t think that they’re going to sweep out everybody and start fresh,” Steele admitted, adding the caveat that ideas like that usually only grow with time.

“I’ve never really thought of that [scenario] and you’ve got my mind going now. You never know in this league, like you really never know what could happen in the off season. It wouldn’t be a bad thing for the organization.”