Elks’ Chris Jones ’embarrassed’ by loss to Calgary, vows to determine ‘who wants to be here’

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Edmonton Elks’ head coach and general manager Chris Jones was at a loss for answers following his team’s crushing 56-28 loss against the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday.

“I’m embarrassed for our organization, I’m embarrassed for our coaching staff, I’m embarrassed for our players. At halftime we still had an opportunity and then we did not give ourselves an opportunity to do anything in the second half,” Jones told the media in Edmonton.

“You make some strides on the road against Calgary and then you come home and play that like? It’s inexplicable. We’re still searching for answers.”

Edmonton was competitive in last week’s Labour Day Classic, leading the game at halftime and finishing ahead of Calgary in net yardage and time of possession. The Elks lost the game 26-18 but the close final score gave fans hope that their team would be able to win the rematch at Commonwealth Stadium.

Instead, the Elks have now lost 14 consecutive home games, tying a dubious CFL record set by the Ottawa Rough Riders in 1987-1988. They have also finished the 2022 regular season with an 0-4 record against their provincial rival, losing those games by a combined score of 161-75.

Jones serves as his own defensive coordinator and his unit struggled to contain Calgary’s offensive attack, allowing 467 yards and six offensive touchdowns. His team has now allowed 46 points or more in four different games this season and an average of 34.1 points per game, which ranks last in the CFL.

“The will seemed to be taken from the defensive side of the football in the second half,” said Jones. “We didn’t run to the football, we didn’t pursue, we didn’t tackle, we did very little to do anything defensively in the second half.”

A handful of newcomers had impressive performances including running back Kevin Brown and receiver Dillon Mitchell, but Edmonton appears far from turning the corner anytime soon. With five games remaining this season, Jones has vowed to review the film and determine which players still look like they want to be part of his team.

“We’ve got some good young players. We’ve got to evaluate tomorrow the things that we did well and the people that played well and the people that want to be here and that want to play extremely hard for the organization, for their teammates, for the city and we’ll find out exactly who wants to be here and who doesn’t,” said Jones.

The Elks (3-10) will visit the Saskatchewan Roughriders (6-7) this week, marking the first time he has returned to Regina since serving as their head coach and general manager for three seasons (2016-2018). Edmonton can still mathematically qualify for the postseason, though they will have to win in Regina in order to avoid officially being eliminated.