|Chris Jones and Johnny Athens|
Regarding what the team's done in free agency and throughout this entire off-season, I asked Jones how he feels about his team.
"We got a shot. We got a shot," Jones smiled. "We get Darian back and healthy and get everyone figuring out exactly what we want offensively, defensively and in the kicking game, and our coaching staff will expect to win every football game. We're not going to sit here and say 'Grey Cup this' and 'Grey Cup that'. All I know is you can expect us to give 100% effort every time we step on the football field and we got a shot."
I further asked Jones what was the plan behind their moves this week, signing or trading for 13 new players. Most of them are in their mid-to-late 20's.
"We want athletic, fast, characters," Jones answered. "When we were at Tennessee Tech, a very academic school, when I first went there to work on my masters degree, Mike Smith - who went on to be the Falcons head coach - was our defensive coordinator, Doug Malone coached our O-line, we had a tremendous staff. But when you looked at us, you knew we'd play hard but we were gonna fall short. We weren't as athletic or fast as we needed to be. So we picked out all the kids from our camps who ran 4.4 40's, guys with verticals jumps of 37", 38", 39" and watched their film. We wanted to get big, fast and athletic.
"The next thing you know we put 11 guys in the NFL, were nationally ranked back-to-back, and should've probably won more games than we actually did. But we knew at that point it was about the players."
We then took it to the crowd and one patron asked Jones where the club is with its backup quarterback position behind Darian Durant.
"We brought two or three quarterbacks down to Houston and worked them out," Jones said. "It's a little premature to say I'm comfortable with anybody. B.J. Coleman did some real nice things the other day as did the other two guys. Before we jump off the bridge, we're gonna see some more of them in person."
If the Roughriders do elect to move on from Chris Getzlaf, it'll ruffle more feathers in the Rider Nation. They've just settled down from the releases of John Chick and Weston Dressler. However Jones and his righthand man John Murphy are undaunted.
"Yeah you know what? It's just part of reality," Jones deadpanned. "They can't play forever. When guys are little bit older and slower, you have to make the decisions that'll allow you to win football games. That's what they brought me in here for. They didn't bring me here to win a popularity contest. They brought me here to win football games and I'm trying to win as many as I possibly can and use the experience I've gained in the past."
To that, Jones received a thundering ovation.
Fans here just want to win.