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Friday, January 29, 2016

MEET CHRIS JONES

Thursday night in Estevan was the first public speaking appearance by new Saskatchewan Roughriders V.P of Football, General Manager & Head Coach Chris Jones.  It was the annual Estevan Bruins fundraising dinner and the Voice of the Bruins, Jeromy Corrigan, was on hand and sent us the audio.

Jones did a Q & A with Rider Radio host Michael Ball, and here's a transcript of what was said:

Q:  What's your approach to coaching and how did it come to be almost all of your staff from Edmonton joined you in Saskatchewan for 2016?

CJ:  We don't have staff meetings to have staff meetings.  We have very few staff meetings.  Our time is too valuable and we know what we gotta get done.  Day 1, Day 2 , Day 3, everybody knows their job responsiblities and go out and get the job done.  When we take the field, we hit the ground running.  So basically I told them 'the rumour on the street is there could be an opportunity for us so raise your hand if you're interested in going'.  And they all raised their hand and I said 'okay let's roll'.

Q:  How will you balance being Defensive Coordinator and Head Coach?

CJ:  It's just a matter of balancing your time and having a clear vision of exactly what you expect out of your staff and your personnel people and players.  You treat 'em with the utmost respect and you demand exactly what you want and you don't settle.

Q:  You're going to live in a hotel?

CJ:  I go to work at 3:00 am until 7:00 pm and I work seven days a week.  There ain't no real reason to have an apartment where you gotta play electrical and cable bills and stuff like that.  All my towels are in my locker at work and I only got a few black shirts and a few pairs of jeans.  The people (at the hotel) know you and I got two little girls.  They stay down South at our place on the Tennessee/Alabama line and my wife's a school teacher with only a few years left until retirement.  They come up to visit and the hotel people get to know everything about them.  That's the way we do it.

Q:  You're based out of the South?

CJ:  I stay down there in the off-season and then every single weekend but one, I'll be travelling to the minicamps from Miami to Tampa, and go home.  Tomorrow I got a 6:45 am flight to Houston and I've got three quarterbacks who we'll meet with.  Then a workout and then I'll head to Dallas.  So it's a little bit of a busy schedule.


Q:  How was Chris Jones as a football player?

CJ:  Slow.  Physical.  I liked to fight.  I enjoyed Alan May's talk before me here actually!  I was raised in an all-black project and my mama made $6000/year.  I weighed 113 lbs in the ninth grade so I had to fight my way out of a lot of situations.  That's where I'm from, you know?

Q:  How did you get to Canada?

CJ:  It's strange man.  Paul Jones, who's been in the league with Edmonton for years, would come by our school and I'd tell him 'this guy's pretty good' or 'that guy's pretty good'.  He saw that I had a decent eye for talent and I said 'there's not an internship for white guys in the NFL so Paul why don't you get me an internshp in Edmonton?'  He did and I went up there in 1999 and there were guys like Rob Brown and Doug Pederson.  They had no money to hire me so I had to run down to Mobile with $100 in my pocket.  I was doing a home visit for Tennessee Tech and got a call from Paul Jones.  Long story short, Don Mathews approached me and offered me a job.  Told me to call Jim Popp.

I drove up to Montreal and stopped in a place called Watertown, New York.  I was driving in the snow and never had before.  I stopped for a pee and there was a sign over the urinal that said, "Life Is A Journey, Not A Destination".  I thought I'd better get back in the car and keep going!  Ended up in Quebec where nobody told me all the signs are in French and you can tell I don't speak French.

Q:  What's the key to finding good Canadian football players?

CJ:  There's two different ways to find them.  I try to work them out as much as I possibly can.  Speaking of the Americans first, basically I'm evaluating everything they do from the moment they sign those sheets.  Do they look me in the eye?  I ask for their email and see how many actually put it on there like I asked them to do.  If he's looking around talking and I can't stand being around him for 2-3 hours, why would I bring him up for seven months?  My house payment and car payment depend on this!  My two girls' college degrees depend on it.  Some of our guys have unsavoury pasts but I can tell after I work 'em out whether or not they can play for us.

With the Canadians what we do is, of course we have the Canadian Draft and the Canadian players have come so far from when I first got up here in 2002.  The first combine I went to was in Montreal and the players were like our high school players in the States.  But the League has done such a great job of organizing the combine now.  I wish I had a picture to show you how far they've come but there's now a lot of 4.4 40's and a lot of bench rep guys in the 20's.  It's really fun to see how it continues to come along.

Q:  What's it take to win in the CFL?

CJ:  You've gotta have a good quarterback and good Canadian content.  If that's the case and you have a little bit of defense, you're gonna win.  If you have a whole lotta defense, you're gonna win a lot.

Q:  What do you think of the Riders' Canadians?

CJ:  You always have to rebuild so you're always looking where your players will come from and who's going to back them up?  We're looking at centre, guard and a few receivers.  Also the safety and nose tackle spots.  That's probably where we'll target.

Q:  What about Rob Bagg?

CJ:  I've done a lot of investigating and I like guys that are good in the locker room and put the football team first.  He's a guy that does that, according to everybody I've talked to.  I've asked players over the phone who the leaders are and his name kept coming up every time.  Then when I met with Darian, and Jeremy O'Day who wants to win more than anybody in the organization, Bagg's name came up there too.

Q:  Dressler and Chick.  They're good guys in the locker room ...

CJ:  That's one of the toughest things ever.  I've had to cut some of the players closest to me over the years like Ed Philion and Tim Strickland, and actually all the best ones I've had I've eventually had to cut them.  That's never an easy thing.  When you have an organization as proud as this one and you have those guys who've done so much, that was a very tough decision and it led to a lot of sleepless nights.  Unfortunately with the ecomonics of the game, the numbers just didn't fit.

Q:  Did you try to negotiate with them?

CJ:  About four or five guys were making a third of the salary.  That's the case.  They give you so much money to work with and these people around here are working people like me.  Just do the math.  You can't pay the electric bill and the water bill and not pay the cable bill.  They'll turn it off.  You can't put an entire football team together if you're paying too much in one area.  That's just the facts of life.  It doesn't matter if it's the quarterback or anyone else.  We did what we could do and in today's world, I tried to re-sign a Canadian kid the other day and talked to him on the phone and his agent called and said not to talk to the player until they get the contract.  The agents are controlling this thing now, more than the kids know.  And they shut doors, unfortunately.

Q:  Have you spoken to Chick and Weston?

CJ:  I talked to John at length the day prior.  And then Weston, last night flying in he was sitting right next to me in the last row so we got to talk.  He was in his street clothes so I didn't recognize him at first but I recognized his voice.  He said 'Coach here's your bag', and I recognized his voice.  We talked the whole way over from Calgary and we talked about his workout program.  He's welcome to work out with our guy.  That's how we operate.  He's got some years left in the tank so good luck.  This was just a business decision.

Q:  What was Don Mathews' influence on you?

CJ:  I owe a tremendous amount to Don.  He's forgotten more about football than I know.  He and Bill Parcells are guys I bounce things off of.  He's not in very good health right now, by the way.  That first year in Montreal he had me watching so much film.  He asked me who I liked and I said honestly only #75 and this big old #78 who turned out to be Adriano Belli.  We cut everybody else and the next year we won the Grey Cup.

Q:  What's the story with Bill Parcells?

CJ:  Well, Paul Jones again, he said he knows Bill Parcells and I asked him to get me up with him.  I happened to be doing a workout down in West Palm Beach, which is five minutes from Jupiter where he lives.  We went to Hurricanes Bar & Grill and had breakfast of all things.  We had breakfast, then drank coffee, drank coffee, drank coffee, and then ate lunch.  We spent six hours together in all.  I just wrote down tons of notes and a lot of the things we do are similar to what he and Don gave me.  I've had the good fortune of being around all these good folks.

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

Better keep living outta your suitcase and in hotels Jones, because purty soon you are gonna be gone, gone, gone, and Murphy along with you.

Edmund in Edmonton.....

Christopher Evans said...

Great interview! The more I hear from Jones, the more I like him and his coaching/management style.

Anonymous said...

Man, the trolls have seriously ruined this place.

Keith Pottruff said...

Someone in Edmonton is bitter...

Rod Pedersen said...

Just appreciate them for what they are. Entertainment.

Anonymous said...

Chris Jones oozes professionalism and class. We have NEVER had a staff like this one.

2016 - the inaugural year of professional football in Saskatchewan.

w said...

Arrogant.
Will he have as much class as Dressler and Chick when he gets his take it or leave it when things go south by season 2?

Tim from Kansas said...

Hi Rider fans. There is a new spring football league starting up this year called Major League Football (MLFB). I know many of these leagues have come and gone and I have no opinion on whether this will succeed. This is what I've heard so far:

- There will be 8 teams this year, with plans to add 5 more next year
- Each team will go to camp Feb 15 with 80 players, about 45 make the roster. Draft started Wed, I think it wraps up today.
- They made players sign contracts in advance, they had to sign to be eligible to be drafted. If they do get drafted, they can't go to CFL they're under contract. If they don't get drafted, they are released from the contract.
- 10 game season, 3 playoff games, season ends in July
- Players paid $2,500 per game. That's US$25k for 10 games. A CFL rookie salary of CAN$50k = approx US$2,000 per game (18 games).
- Players can only play for 4 years max, it's intended to be a developmental league.
- Average ticket price $25 - 30
- Teams to cities in high football interest areas without NFL(Oklahoma City, Memphis, Little Rock, Orlando, etc.)

Why does this matter? It means if this league gets on the field this spring, the pool of players available to Jones and Murphy just shrunk by 640.

Does this mean they'll all go to MLFB instead of CFL? I don't know, but I know of one young man who was a star in the Big 12 conference who was going to go to a Rider open tryout which I thought was great. He texted a few days ago and said change of plans, Dave Campo (ex Dallas Cowboys coach) called him and told him he was going to draft him to his MLFB team, so he's going with Campo, rather than open Rider tryout and then hope for a call back.

This is all new and uncertain, not a lot of details yet, so if I'm wrong on anything don't trash me, I'm just sharing what I've heard and read. I'd love to hear Jones' and Murphy's thoughts on this.

Larry said...

Real good to hear the comments from CJ....what a strong work ethic.
Looking forward to the future!

Anonymous said...

I love the edmonton guys on here. Just shows how we stole all their thunder from there Grey Cup win.

GO GET EM JONES

Anonymous said...

Good Job Michael Ball! Enjoyed this read tells a lot about Chris Jones......a lot more than all these negative Nellies....I loved John Chick and Weston Dressler, who will always be Riders no matter what they do anywhere else. Hopefully we can get Ted Laurent and Justin Capicciotti with the opened up Cap Space. We now have Shawn Lemmon at less than John Chick. I don't like the trade but if it comes I understand. Go Riders! Go Chris Jones! Go John Murphy! Go Jeremy O'Day.

Anonymous said...

wheres that scrubby guys column?

Anonymous said...

I too enjoy the 'out-of-towners' who have found a home in this comment section; be they bitter Bomber fans, Eskimo fans, and Redblack fans (especially the fellow who is still bitter that Ottawa could not resurrect their Rough Riders again and therefore believes that there is now no longer a Rider Nation - only his beloved R Nation LOL)

Anonymous said...

This is better than Scruffy's crap!!

Anonymous said...

LDC Score Bombers 39 Riders 8
Dressler 9 receptions 175 yds 2 TD

Anonymous said...

Or perhaps....... LDC Score Riders 39 Bombers 8 Shawn Lemmon with 3 QB Sacks and Ted Laurent 3 QB Sacks.......BDC Riders 48 Bombers 0 in defensive annihilation. Read it here first!

Dick Rubnutz said...

What a great interview with Chris Jones. We're lucky to have him and John Murphy on our side. Can't wait for the season to get going

Go Riders!!!

Anonymous said...

Seems unlikely Dressler would get 175 yards and 2 td's...when last year he averaged just over 58 yards per game and had a total of 6 td's in 16 games

Anonymous said...

Unreal how we had to put up with Hopson's amateur hour for so long and now we have a guy that knows how to build a winner. Jones comes back to speak at a charity dinner and then he's right back out there talking to new players. All Taman did was sit in the office and count the rail cars crawling past the stadium. And only one scout out trying to make the team better. No wonder we had no depth.


Speaker Ryan

Anonymous said...

Glad to see a agent stand up for his players against Jones crap that he dishes out. Can guarantee that Jones does not have a players best interests at heart otherwise he would not have any problem dealing with the players agents.

Anonymous said...

Just like Chris Jones. Many players have lived in the executive suites here in the Queen City. Don Narcisse stayed in there most of his long career. If they own a house down South in a warn State. Why would they purchase a home in Canada.

Anonymous said...

Great interview, loved it. It's like when Austin came in, finally a coach that wants to win, not this "we're lucky to have a team" crap. Sorry about Dressler/Chick but hey, welcome to the pros.
Dave

Anonymous said...

If Jones gave this same interview last year as coach of the Esks, all Rider fans fans would have been saying what a jerk he sounds like. Now they love this kind of attitude. Guess it just shows what Rider fans true colors are.

Anonymous said...

WHAT A BUNCH OF CRAP ... JONES DOSENT HAVE A PLAYERS BEST INTEREST AT HEART!!! Besides being a head coach he's a fricken GM. You dont fall in love with players you love your team! Players will always come and go in every Pro sport. When Indy let Peyton Manning go due to his salary cost and bonuses. Was his best interest at heart? Of course not. But It made sense to let him go even though he still had game.
Chris Jones is going to build a sustained winning team and thats all that matters.
When both Dressler and Chick wanted to go to the NFL to better themselves. The Riders released them early and gave them their blessing. Now after a 3-15 season its the Riders turn.
All of these out of Province comments are just imbicils that are out of work and pissed off that their Grey Cup Party was smashed with their HC leaving for greener pastures

Anonymous said...

Green..not Tainted with gold or yellow or beige whatever that is

Anonymous said...

I am glad Chris Jones is on our side. He has won everywhere he has been. Having Matthews and Parcells as mentors.....not a bad start. Give him some time. We are on the right track. Proven winner.

Aaron Anderson

Anonymous said...

Green like mould.

Anonymous said...

He maybe an arrogant a$$hole, but he is our arrogant a$$hole. He can say whatever he wants, as long as he wins football games.

I hope all the rest of the fans in the CFL are watching, because with the financial resources the Riders have available and Jones'attitude, there is going to be a lot of banners raised at the new stadium in the near future.

It will be a thing of beauty and we will remember all of your immature comments very well when it happens.

It will be the same feeling as "this will not be over quickly, you will not enjoy this".

Anonymous said...

If I have to pck between Jones and Chick on who I beleive Chick wins hands down, in fact Jones would not even be in the conversation as so far he has been lying about everything that he has done.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Tim from Kansas, we need more people like you who take the time to post something of substance here rather than the pointless blather that seems to dominate.

Your friend,

Gordo

p.s Say Hi to Dorothy!

Anonymous said...

Spurned and very bitter still spewwing rejected man love.

Anonymous said...

Jones is a Rider and he rules this league

Anonymous said...

Jones has only been here a short time and already can't stand him

Anonymous said...

The more I see of Chris Jones the more I'm impressed with Craig Reynolds for having the guts to sign him. Go Riders Go.

Anonymous said...

I don't get why some people think he's such an asshole. Where in those comments does he come across as such? Think he cut dressler and chick just out of pure spite? That's garbage. The guy had his players going through a wall for him last year and they won him a championship. Players don't play for assholes. But even if he is a bit arrogant, consider this. Grandpa Miller was known far and wide as a nice guy and how did his tenure with the Riders end up? Too nice along with Taman\Hopson and that gave us the disaster of 2011.

Says a lot when Jones' two mentors are Don Matthews and Bill Parcells. Taman's mentors are Al Ford and Tom Shepard. Think about that for a second.


Gundersons Yorkton

Anonymous said...

Hey Rod:
Not sure if you knew or not. The TSN/CFL website is no longer taking comments. I think they have had enough of the no name loud mouth cowards. Especially the ones that can not even stick to the story or issues at hand. So now many of those idiots are migrating over here to get their crap smeared all over this blog.
I wonder if you could do the same for a while. Maybe the idiots would go away

Reginald of Regina

Anonymous said...

Tim,
While it may appear that this new league is a great deal for players, any player with half a brain will ask himself "yes I have signed a contract for $XXXX per game, but is this team/league going to have enough money to actually pay me?"

I can name at least four football leagues (WLF, USFL, WLAF and XFL, in addition to other leagues that tried to start up whose names I can no longer recall.

The common thread in all these leagues is that they all failed within a few seasons, and players were left without salaries.

GMs and coaches in the CFL can use 100 years of the leagues existence to persuade players it would be a better choice than a league which probably fail before it's first season is complete.

Anonymous said...

Do us a favour Reginald and lead by example.

Anonymous said...

All you need is Love ta dum da dum da dum All you need is Love, Love, Love is all you need. Love is all you need. Stop the craziness man. Its a football game. Many of you act like the colors of your team is your personal colors of some bad ass gang.
I for one Love the idea that Chris Jones is going to spread the wealth throughout the team properly. You need your star QB as the leader. Then there has to be more parity on the team after the QB.
Like Chris said they gutted the Toronto Argonauts and 2 years later Won the Grey Cup. The REDBLACKS won 2 games in 2014 and then changed and added players and were in the 2015 Grey Cup.
So bring it on Chris Jones. Do your thing. Dont worry about the EE fans on here calling you names. It was OK for them to take you away from Toronto while you were still under contract. But because it happened to them they start name calling. Silly and juvenile

signed the...
Dont worry be Happy man

No one ever said...

I miss Mitch's column.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Michael Ball, the man keeps getting better. He gets the good interviews and asks the right questions. He doesn't embarrass the rest of Saskatchewan's sports personalities. Rod, you should have Michael Ball on more often.Better yet have him host the show when your away. I know thats hard cause he has his own gig. BUt it would be a treat and more interesting then the other guy that you put on and I am not talking about Phil the Thrill, he os good as well).

Because the other guy always gives himself shameless plugs and thinks he is Rod Pedersen, I will give one for Ballsy. Check him out at www.ballsy.ca

Anonymous said...

“Great interview! The more I hear from Jones, the more I like him and his coaching/management style.”

You took the words right out of my mouth, but I’ll feel a whole lot better if he snaps up some of the national talent that’ll hit the market February 9th.

T. Brown

Anonymous said...

Jones is the biggest prick in the league. That's why he fits in so well in Saskatchewan. Acts just like the Rider fans do at Grey Cups.

Tim from Kansas said...

To anon, I get what you're saying. And I agree, based on a pretty long history that suggests MLFB won't survive. Time will tell. I've thought about this a lot and have 3 comments.

1: I hope this league survives. I initially thought this would be bad for the CFL but I'm thinking it's good. It gives a lot of good football players a chance to keep playing and keep getting better which is good for everyone, but especially the young men. I've said many times that there is a huge number of great players who are on the couch because they just didn't have a place to play and the scouts either didn't find them or they lost out in the numbers game and never got a chance.

2: I really think the best pond for the riders to fish in is the guys who spent a year or two on NFL rosters or practice squads anyways. The days of finding some guy from a small conference in Montana who got missed by the NFL are long gone. The league knows about everyone. They're bigger, faster, more mature and more ready for professional football because they're already pros. Think of Corey sheets vs Michael Sam. And when NFL cuts are made, there like 1000 players who get released so who where would you rather prospect? From these guys or from the kids who never made it to camp in the first place.

3: And re the comment of CFL vs MLFB I have talked to a few guys who had to make this choice. The prevailing feeling among the players is that the CFL tryouts are such a long shot hardly anyone who goes ever gets called back so they are not as exciting of an opportunity as you might think. It was a bit of an eye opener to hear this. Think about this. 9 teams with approx 30 Americans. Maybe 20% turnover? That's only about 50 jobs. Plus, playing close to home, American rules, friends and family. Assuming they get paid it's not a bad choice especially if their odds are better. That's what they're saying.

In any case, never thought much of the free agent camps, I think the organization needs to do the hard work of finding the right guys, and not hoping the right guys come to them. And it sounds like that's what jones is doing and I think that's great. And hopefully in July they have tape on a lot of guys that they were on the fence on, who are now much better football players after a season or tow in MFLB. If it happens that's not so bad, is it?

Anonymous said...

Ballsy promoting himself???? Never!!!!

Thanks Michael Ball, the man keeps getting better. He gets the good interviews and asks the right questions. He doesn't embarrass the rest of Saskatchewan's sports personalities. Rod, you should have Michael Ball on more often.Better yet have him host the show when your away. I know thats hard cause he has his own gig. BUt it would be a treat and more interesting then the other guy that you put on and I am not talking about Phil the Thrill, he os good as well).

Because the other guy always gives himself shameless plugs and thinks he is Rod Pedersen, I will give one for Ballsy. Check him out at www.ballsy.ca

Ballsy---just a mediocre morning guy who wishes he could be so much more and isn't!

Tim from Kansas said...

And for you trolls from Edmonton with the potty mouths, if you can read, Jones said 'the rumour on the street is there could be an opportunity for us so raise your hand if you're interested in going'. And they all raised their hand and I said 'okay let's roll'.

It's not just Jones! What does that say about your organization???

Anonymous said...

Tim,
Everything you say is feasible and correct, but there has only ever been one football league that attempted to play actual football, not the arena version, in the US and survived.

It was called the AFL and it merged with the NFL in the late 1960s.

My point is that all of those things you list are great ideas, but only if the new league doesn't fail, which it almost assuredly will.

The XFL even had the financial resources of the WWE behind it and couldn't make it past year one.

I think any young man will take a lesser pay cheque he knows he can cash, than a bigger cheque which is made of rubber.

Tim form Kansas said...

To anon, yes but you're missing my point a bit, sorry. We're talking about kids who have the option of going to camp with an MLFB team vs forgoing that oportunity to go to a free agent tryout camp. This is not my opinion. This is what they told me. They are choosing the MFLB.

Remember, we're not talking about kids who have two contracts to choose from. If this was the case, then your point of view is a valid argument. What has happened is 640 kids get to go to training camp instead of a tryout. But the choice for them is to turn down the MLFB contract in order to go to a CFL tryout. And they're 22 years old. They just want to play. They don't know about xfl full etc.

If they have a contract offer from CFL yeah they're going to go. The point is simply that this is a segment of the available talent pool that's now off the table to the CFL. But they'll get better and then you get another chance.

And yeah I'm with you, I won't be surprised if they never play a game. But if they do...

Anonymous said...

Pound pavement Eskies fans, you're going to have a long rebuild