Chris Jones says it’s ‘inexplicable’ Edmonton Elks can’t win at home given road success

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Edmonton Elks’ head coach and general manager Chris Jones has no explanation for why his team is unable to win at home after improving to 4-4 on the road in a 26-24 victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

“We’ve played better football on the road than we have at home. It’s inexplicable to me. We’ve tried to mimic some of the things that we do on the road in order to make it look as if we’re playing an away game here at home but for whatever reason, it’s been the craziest thing. We’ve tried to talk about different aspects of being at home and how to protect where we’re from and unfortunately, we’re where we’re at,” Jones told The Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

The Elks are currently on a 14-game home losing streak that dates back to October 2019, tying a league record set by the Ottawa Rough Riders in the late 1980s. Edmonton’s next home game is against the Montreal Alouettes on Saturday, Oct. 1 and another home loss would mean breaking that dubious record.

Five of the club’s six home losses this season have come by double digits with the one exception being a 25-18 loss to the Ottawa Redblacks in Week 12. Nick Arbuckle threw for 219 yards in that game to beat his former team seven weeks after being traded to the nation’s capital.

Jones believes that playing more consistent, complementary football is the key to achieving success over the club’s remaining four games.

“In all three phases, we’ve shown in spurts that some pieces are in place and we have some things that we do well. Unfortunately, for all three phases, we’ve certainly shown that if we don’t do the right things that other teams can capitalize and make plays to beat us, which is essentially what’s happened,” said Jones.

“It seems like when one phase is playing well that another phase is not or if two phases are playing well, another phase is not. Very seldom this year have all three phases been hitting at the same time because when we do, we’re capable of doing some very good things.”

Edmonton’s defence took over this past weekend’s game against Saskatchewan by sacking quarterback Cody Fajardo eight times despite often only rushing three defenders. Jones indicated that this strategy was devised with the use of analytics, crediting his fellow coaches for putting it into action.

“Hats off to our coaches. We break every film and everything’s based off of our numbers and what we know about our opponent. We were able to take that information and run it through our analytics department and then be able to devise a plan that would give us that information,” said Jones, who coached the Riders for three seasons before departing for the NFL in January 2019.

“Saskatchewan’s never an easy place to play. Really good atmosphere, tough to go into and I’m just proud of the group — on a short week, the third game in eleven days, on the road, winning a game — it was really good.”

The Elks are on a bye this week and remain eligible for the postseason after avoiding elimination against Saskatchewan. They will need the Riders to finish no better than 1-3 over their remaining games in order to beat them out for a playoff spot, while going at least 3-1 over their remaining four games against Montreal, Winnipeg, Toronto, and B.C.

“The way I explained it to them the other day: when you go camping and you get up the next morning, there are some coals still under there. It looks like the fire is out but those coals are hot under there. If you throw some lighter fluid or some gas on it, it blows back up, so that’s what we’re trying to do over these last four is just get hot at the right time, win these next four and then just see where fate takes us.”