Edmonton’s preseason finale had all the makings of a feel-good story, with a packed house in support of Ukraine and head coach Chris Jones set to command his first game on the Commonwealth Stadium sidelines since his Grey Cup-winning 2015 season.
Instead, the Elks found themselves shellacked by their rival Calgary Stampeders and humiliated in front of the fan base by a score of 37-7 on Friday. While the exhibition result won’t hurt the team going forward, Jones was filled with fire when addressing the media post-game.
“They kicked our ass,” a frustrated Jones told team broadcaster 630 CHED. “I don’t care if it’s a preseason game or the Grey Cup, if you get your ass kicked, you get your ass kicked. We’ve got to do a better job of doing what the hell we’re supposed to do when we show up in this building.”
While Jones pointed to receiver Jalin Marshall and quarterback Kai Locksley as notable standouts, very few players endeared themselves to the coaching staff over the course of the evening.
“I’m embarrassed for our staff. It was even tough to evaluate at times because the play was so slow,” Jones said. “Unfortunately for some of the guys that we’re going to have to release, some of the answers that we were getting are way too easy. When they’re easy, that’s not a good thing. You want ’em to be hard and unfortunately, this game has made some things a little bit more clear.”
CFL teams are required to make final cuts Saturday and a roster full of players on the bubble failed to rise to the occasion in Edmonton. All three quarterbacks — the aforementioned Locksley, Tre Ford, and Taylor Cornelius — tossed interceptions while being under duress and Edmonton’s running backs were no better, combining for just 19 yards. Meanwhile, the defence struggled to execute the fundamentals and the special teams unit had one punt dropped and another blocked while missing two field goals.
“We want to be a physical football team and certainly we were not on either side of the line of scrimmage tonight, offensively or defensively,” Jones told the media. “Special teams was as bad as I’ve ever seen.”
He and his staff expect to reach a decision on cuts by 3 a.m. local time after evaluating the film through the night and those players lucky enough to remain will have to be ready to work.
“We’re going to go back to square one after the guys get their housing and stuff straightened out,” Jones insisted. “We’re going to go back into day one. We’re going to go to way back when in the playbook and by God, we’re going to be a fundamentally sound football team. Right now, it doesn’t look like we are.”