Chris Jones takes shot at Riders’ quarterback Cody Fajardo: ‘I just don’t see him as a passer’

Photo courtesy: Arthur Ward/CFL

It appears as though Edmonton Elks’ general manager and head coach Chris Jones isn’t a big fan of Saskatchewan Roughriders’ quarterback Cody Fajardo.

“I’ll be honest with you, I just look at that and between me and the fence post, I didn’t think Fajardo was a top five guy at quarterback. I know he’s a good runner. I know he’s a winner. But I just don’t see him as a passer,” Jones told Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun.

The comment was made in reference to Saskatchewan’s decision not to retain Stephen McAdoo as their offensive coordinator following the 2019 season.

Fajardo was named the West Division’s Most Outstanding Player in 2019 after throwing for 4,302 yards, 18 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. Jason Maas was hired to replace McAdoo in 2020 and Fajardo’s numbers have since regressed as he passed for 2,970 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions in 2021.

Jones has hired McAdoo to serve as his offensive coordinator with the Elks after previously doing so during his original stint in Edmonton (2014-15) and following his move to Saskatchewan (2016-18).

“Just go take a look at Fajardo. His stats will speak for themselves. Look at what he did this year compared to what he did with Mac. That’s what I challenge people to do because Stephen McAdoo is a good football coach,” said Jones.

“Just look at the numbers instead of public opinion because McAdoo doesn’t have that flashy personality and is not a guy that goes out and seeks the media attention.”

McAdoo’s offence finished second in yardage and points scored in 2014 as Edmonton placed second in the West Division with a 12-6 record. The club won a Grey Cup in 2015 after finishing the regular season at 14-4 as the offence ranked second in yardage and fourth in points scored.

Jones and McAdoo had Michael Reilly at quarterback during this stint and he threw for 5,776 yards, 31 touchdowns, and 21 interceptions over 26 starts. His production improved after Maas became Edmonton’s head coach and offensive coordinator in 2016, posting three consecutive 5,000-yard seasons and winning Most Outstanding Player in 2017.

The quarterback position was less stable when Jones and McAdoo moved to Saskatchewan in 2016. Darian Durant and Mitchell Gale were the primary quarterbacks in their first year, following by Kevin Glenn and Brandon Bridge in 2017 and Zach Collaros and Brandon Bridge in 2018.

McAdoo’s offences weren’t terribly productive during his first three years in Saskatchewan. The unit finished eighth in yardage and ninth in points scored in 2016, seventh in yardage and fourth in points scored in 2017, and eighth in yardage and seventh in points scored in 2018.

Things improved dramatically in 2019 after Jones departed for the NFL when McAdoo’s offence finished second in yardage and fourth in points scored, launching Fajardo to stardom in Riderville.

All three of Edmonton’s quarterbacks — Nick Arbuckle, Taylor Cornelius, and Dakota Prukop — are under contract for 2022, though Jones could choose to pursue a veteran passer in free agency. Fajardo remains under contract in Saskatchewan, though it sounds as though Jones wouldn’t pursue him even if the 29-year-old was available.