Restoring a football franchise. Chris Jones continues his rebuild with the Edmonton Elks.

 

Some people enjoy fixer-uppers. Whether it’s turning a home into a gorgeous new property or restoring an old classic automobile, they enjoy revitalizing a project and transforming it into the mould of their image.

For Chris Jones, his remodelling projects are football franchises. His latest blueprint involves him turning around an Edmonton club for the second time.

On Tuesday, the Edmonton Elks head coach and general manager joined Michael Ball on the SportsCage as he and his league counterparts at the league’s winter meetings in Kananaskis, Alberta.

During his first tenure with Edmonton, Jones led the green and gold to a 26-10 record over two seasons and won the 103rd Grey Cup. The following season Jones departed to Saskatchewan for the chance to add general manager duties. Over three years, he compiled a 27-27 record with the Roughriders before he left for a coaching position with the National Football League’s Cleveland Browns.

After his detour south of the border that included a stop as head coach of his high school Alma Mater, the South Pittsburg Pirates in Marion County, Tennessee, Jones has returned for a second stint with Edmonton.

The Elks head coach and general manager says the feeling of restoring a car is very similar to rebuilding a football franchise.

Even though many procrastinators across the league had pegged the Elks to finish near the bottom of the Canadian Football League standings, Jones was still disappointed that his team only managed four wins last season.

“Even last year, I mean people would say well it’s only year two and I was like, no our expectation level is to win every single year that we put the pads on, we should be in the Grey Cup and competing for Grey Cup Championships. ” He also noted that he would’ve lost his house and every dollar he earned because of his confidence in his football team heading into the 2022 season.

While the changes have not been reflected in the win-and-loss column, Edmonton enjoyed a revival off the field, with a large part of it due to President Victor Cui.

The latest campaign with the team that has sparked a lot of interest in the community is Edmonton’s guaranteed home win promotion. A section of fans can purchase tickets to Elks home opener against the Roughriders on June 11 and will continue to receive tickets until Edmonton snaps their losing streak at Commonwealth Stadium.

The Elks have lost their last 17 games on home turf and has gone two full seasons since they enjoyed a victory at Commonwealth Stadium.

Even with the added distractions, the Elks head coach and general manager likes having Cui on board with the team and says that his main focus is the football operations.

“All I can do is show up and coach my butt off, have my coaching staff coach their butts off and have our players go play and have fun playing the game.”

Free agency opens up across the CFL on February 14, but the Elks managed to make an early move. On Monday, they signed versatile defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy after he was released by the BC Lions. Jones recruited Purifoy as a free agent to Saskatchewan before the 2018 season. The newest DB said he enjoyed his time with Jones as a member of the Roughriders.

The Edmonton head coach feels that he’s a player’s coach, especially with the amount of time he spends with them.

” I do love my players. I see my players more than I see my family. I’m very close to them.” Jones also noted that he’s very critical of his players when needed but he enjoys showing up to work every day.

There were a couple of bright spots for Edmonton last year, Dillion Mitchell had 35 receptions for 637 yards and four touchdowns over a nine-game span. Running back Kevin Brown ended his shortened season of seven games with 486 rushing yards. Quarterback Taylor Cornelius returns after signing an extension in 2022, finishing the season with 2,768 passing yards with eleven touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Jones hopes to carry over the success they had late in the season over to the new year.

“Instead of talking all about last year and what happened last year to go on and do what he have to do to win football games. ”

Given his track record, it should be a safe bet this time for Jones that he will see some improvement with his football team in 2023.

 

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