Saskatchewan Roughriders Head Coach & GM Chris Jones cancelled the team’s pregame walk-through on Saturday as they prepare to host the Calgary Stampeders in Sunday’s annual Plaza of Honour Game (5:00 pm, TSN, CKRM).
That and other topics were discussed in his pregame news conference at Mosaic Stadium:
DID THE SMOKE CANCEL THE WALK-THOUGH?
CJ: No. We’ve just had a long week and decided to do something different.
WHAT’S THE TEAM LEARNED SINCE THE LAST GAME VS CALGARY?
CJ: We’re a 3-4 football team. You can’t go back in time. Once you put yourself in the position you’re in, you can’t do anything to change it. There’s no magic formula. You just gotta move on to the next thing. I told them this morning that the bad news is we’re 3-4 and the good news is we’re 3-4. With Winnipeg losing last night, they’ve lost four ball games. Edmonton’s next and they’ve lost three games. We win this football game, we’re one game out of 2nd place. We just gotta keep grinding.
It’s pro football. There’s a lot of parity there. We can’t put ourself in a position where we’re down 24 points. We just gotta play solid football and let the chips fall.
WHAT ARE THE ‘LITTLE THINGS’ YOU NEED TO CLEAN UP?
CJ: All the little details that you put in. One of the NBA coaches said this year that there are no little things. The little things that you’re speaking of end up being big things because that’s what end up costing you games. We’ve gotta do a better job of securing the football, knowing if we’re a deep quarters defender, making sure if you’re a head-up guy that we’re not giving them a vertical seam on punt return. All those little things that people don’t see.
ARE YOU A DESPERATE FOOTBALL TEAM?
CJ: I don’t look at our situation as desperation. We look at it more like there’s a lot of parity. Calgary’s a bit of an anomaly. We certainly can’t take away anything that they’ve done. We’ve got to worry about what we do rather than what they do.
THOUGHTS ON LOUCHEIZ PURIFOY?
CJ: He’s a good football player. Going back to when he was in BC, he’s a good blitzer, instinctual, he’s a good cover guy, so he’s a guy that’ll fit in well with the group that we have here.
WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT CALGARY’S DEFENSIVE FRONT?
CJ: Devone’s done a great job. They mix their coverages and they do a nice job stopping the run with their base or their movement. They do a good job of putting teams in 2nd-and-long and once it’s 2nd-and-8 or 2nd-and-9, that’s advantage defense.
DO YOU CHANGE MUCH AGAINST CALGARY?
CJ: It’s not like they’re going to completely change their offense because they played us two weeks ago. They’ve got certain plays they’ll run week-in, week-out. There will be wrinkles but Dave’s not going to go away from that. There’s a little bit of carry-over and then you just need to weather the wrinkles.
QB ZACH COLLAROS
WHAT DID THIS TEAM LEARN FROM THE LAST CALGARY GAME?
ZC: The importance of not turning the football over. And we really focused the entire week on the little things. There’s a lot of plays to be made out there and we focused on the attention to detail and what that can lead to when everyone’s on the same page.
Everything. It’s all 12 players whether it’s missed assignments, proper execution, route running, communication between the running back and QB, there’s a lot of little details that have to be done the right way. It starts with the QB. We had a good week though, so it’s an exciting time and who better to have in here than the best team in the league?
HOW IMPORTANT IS PUTTING POINTS UP EARLY?
ZC: We haven’t really preached starting fast but obviously the little details will lead to that. Really it’s finishing drives and scoring TDs. That’s every offense’s goal; once you get in the redzone you want to put up 7’s than 3’s. That’s something that has been a point of emphasis.
DO YOU BUY INTO PLAYING DESPERATE?
ZC: Yeah I think so. I think if I was watching two other teams play, I’d buy into it more. Being in the locker room, that’s not the vibe. It’s a very long football season. At the same time, we do have a sense of urgency and know how tough this division is.
IS IT DAUNTING TO FACE AN UNBEATEN TEAM?
ZC: You don’t really look at the records. For me, I look at their defense and they have a very good front four. Singleton is obviously a great player. They’re just a really smart and savy defense. They play the system very well. That’s more the daunting thing. They’re just a very well-coached team and they play well together.