Chris Jones likens working in the NFL to being a kid going to Disney World

Screenshot courtesy: Cleveland Browns

Chris Jones has been there, done that and got the t-shirt from the NFL.

Jones signed a two-year contract as a defensive assistant with Cleveland in January 2019 worth over $700,000 USD per season. Connections with the people leading the football department in the front office at that time, head coach Freddie Kitchens and general manager John Dorsey, led to his Browns job.

“It was an opportunity to quite honestly do something that you look at as a kid like going to Disney World, I’ve been to Disney World now and I’m glad I’m right here,” Jones said while officially being introduced as the Edmonton Elks general manager and head coach.

The 55-year-old was peppered with questions about his commitment to the EE Football Team after inking a four-year pact to lead the football operations department and coaching staff. He avoided guaranteeing staying in Edmonton for the duration of his deal, instead Jones wants to let his future actions speak for themselves.

“All I can do is tell them what I mean and mean what I say. I signed a four-year deal to try to show the fact that this is where I want to try to build a legacy,” Jones said.

“I can’t do more than just tell you what I’m going to do and I think my coaches can tell you: if I tell you I’m going to do something, that’s what I’m going to do. I’ve done all the other.”

As a head coach in Canada, Jones has a 53-37 win-loss record and guided Edmonton to a Grey Cup win in 2015. He’s also won championships as an assistant coach with the Montreal Alouettes in 2002, Calgary Stampeders in 2008 and Toronto Argonauts in 2012. While Jones was named the CFL’s Coach of the Year in 2018 after leading the Saskatchewan Roughriders to a 12-6 record.

“The recommendation to hire Chris was passed unanimously by the board — Chris is the best candidate. He’s been involved in five or six different turnarounds, a couple where he was in charge and others where he was an important facet of a team,” Edmonton Football Team board chair Ian Murray said.

“Chris is committing to the team and he’s committing to the city. I’m pleased and confident that this is now the first proactive step to turnaround the problems that we’ve had. I’m very confident that things will go well from an operational perspective and we’re going to start winning football games.”

The Elks were the worst team in the CFL during the 2021 season while going winless at home (0-7) for the first time in franchise history with Brock Sunderland as GM and Jaime Elizondo head coach. Edmonton allowed the most points and scored the least in the highly competitive West Division. Finding a bonafide starting quarterback is a priority for Jones to improve the offence and team overall.

“Every team has gotta have a great quarterback, certainly we’re no different. It’s an evaluation process that’s probably going to go on for the next couple of months or so,” Jones said.

Quarterbacks Taylor Cornelius, Nick Arbuckle and Dakota Prukop are currently on the roster and under contract for the 2022 season. In the past, Jones has shown an affinity for veterans at the most important position in football. Knowing that expect him to at least explore the possibility of acquiring Michael Reilly or Bo Levi Mitchell who is due a $100,000 roster bonus January 15.

Finding an experienced QB could be the key to a fast turnaround in the Alberta capital and help get Jones a new t-shirt with Grey Cup champions imprinted on it.