If the Riders don’t improve, Chris Jones will be fired

Is Chris Jones going to be fired?

It’s a question I hear quite often, from fans, the media, friends (yes, I have some), bloggers, Tweeters (who accuse me of hating Jones), my cohorts on the Green Zone radio show and the editor of 3DownNation.com, which explains why I’m writing this column.

If the Saskatchewan Roughriders falter, will the community-owned franchise dump the man it hired 18 months ago to be its head coach, vice-president of football operations, general manager and defensive co-ordinator? It’s a fair question and it has myriad responses that will become apparent as the Riders progress past their season-opener Thursday in Montreal.

Here’s my answer: “Why the heck are you asking me?”

I’m the guy who two years ago wrote a column for 3DownNation.com anointing Corey Chamblin as “Mr. Invincible” because the Roughriders would not fire him even if the team went 0-18.

Well, midway through the 2015 season, in Chamblin’s fourth season as Saskatchewan’s head coach and only 1 1/2 years after leading the team to a Grey Cup victory, the team was 0-9 when everyone — including me — decided his stubborn inability to accept advice from anyone else showed he should be fired.

Riders president Craig Reynolds canned Chamblin and — surprisingly! — general manager Brendan Taman, each of whom had 2 1/2 years remaining on contracts that paid them about $300,000 annually.

With those contracts still on the books, Reynolds wooed Jones away from the Edmonton Eskimos, mere days after winning the 2015 Grey Cup, and reportedly gave him $700,000 annually to run the football portion of the franchise. It seemed like a coup.

Jones has since surrounded himself with so many coaches and administrators it’s hard to remember he’s in charge. But there’s no doubt he made the decisions that led to a record-setting player turnover during a 5-13 campaign in 2016 and continued unabated into this season, led by severing ties with veteran quarterback Darian Durant.

That incessant roster juggling, the belief that Jones and right-hand man John Murphy can always find better players, seems to be the reason the Roughriders haven’t jelled into a competitive squad.

Up until last year, Jones had made the playoffs in every one of his previous 14 CFL seasons, working with four different franchises. In every other place, he had a boss, a head coach or a general manager who rode shotgun on his decisions. With all the power he’s been given in Saskatchewan, he now answers to nobody except the scoreboard. And it’s the scoreboard that will determine Jones’ future.

He has put in place a hodge-podge of new, cast-off, proven and unproven talent for 2017, led by journeyman quarterback Kevin Glenn, while the franchise evidently awaits the free-agent acquisition next season of promising pivot James Franklin, who Jones admires from their days together in Edmonton.

If the Roughriders don’t improve, Jones will be fired. If they get through this season with a better record than 2016 and show enough potential that Franklin’s acquisition will make them a contender, Jones — who I don’t hate, by the way, I just disagree with some of his tactics — will be employed for the final year of his contract in 2018.

And then the question will surface again.

Darrell Davis

Darrell Davis

Darrell Davis has reported on the Riders for more than 20 years and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2006.
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Darrell Davis
About Darrell Davis (115 Articles)
Darrell Davis has reported on the Riders for more than 20 years and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame media wing in 2006.

85 Comments on If the Riders don’t improve, Chris Jones will be fired

  1. Larry O // June 22, 2017 at 8:04 am //

    Please don’t tell us the way it really is Darrell. The Rider fan crybaby lemmings will be all over 3DN for you picking on Corky Jones. Cue the lemmings…1….2….3!!!

  2. You have to wonder if maybe Mr. Reynolds was ready to do his job When he was given the honour of leading the mighty Roughriders I believe Mr. Jones is like a snake oil salesman Mr. Reynolds bought a whole case of Jones snake oil.

  3. Southwest cowboy // June 22, 2017 at 9:16 am //

    On the streets of Saskatchewan you don’t see the Rider merchandise like it was pre-Jones.

    • Mr. Jones does not represent what the Saskatchewan Roughriders stand for honesty, humble, hard work. The riders are his retirement plan. If you fire him he still gets paid. He is like other fellows like him in this league. Take what ever money they can get and run run.

      • horsieland // June 22, 2017 at 9:41 am //

        You should come cheer for Calgary Bill. None of that crap here

      • Tiger man // June 22, 2017 at 12:38 pm //

        Honesty??

        This is the same team that cheated on the salary cap in 2013 when they won the cup..

        In fact they’ve broken this rule 4 times over 7 years…

        Hardly an example of honesty or integrity…

        • Christopher // June 22, 2017 at 2:37 pm //

          100% agree there Tiger Man.. this franchise has no honour it is morally & ethically bankrupt and has been for sometime. From the era of Roy Shivers, through Brenan Taman and now Chris Jones. How rider fans support a team with no conscience is beyond me. The fans deserve better.

          • horsieland // June 22, 2017 at 3:04 pm //

            Why do rider fans support the riders? Same reason we all fly Air Canada in spite of poor customer service; lack of choice!

        • Brian Lazorko // June 24, 2017 at 12:13 am //

          In Calgary, nobody cares about the Stampeders.

    • melonhead // June 22, 2017 at 11:37 am //

      That’s not true in my experience

  4. horsieland // June 22, 2017 at 9:28 am //

    You know I’m really torn. Part of me wants to see him fall flat on his face while the other part wants him to do so well he gets offers down south and leaves 3down land forever.
    Between his brazen cheats, his gimmicky signings and his general unsportsmanlike character I think he hurts this league horribly.
    If he had a personality like a Don Cherry or Rex Ryan maybe I could overlook it because he’d bring some notariiety to th league. Unfortunately he has the personality of an over inflated football.

  5. Larry O // June 22, 2017 at 9:40 am //

    You said it perfectly horsie….brazen cheats, gimmicky signings, and general unsportsmanlike character. I agree as well that he hurts this league horribly.

  6. Basing your future on a free agent next year is idiotic. I really hope Franklin goes anywhere but Saskabush.

    • horsieland // June 22, 2017 at 9:59 am //

      So is signing Vince Young.
      It is widely believed he wants Franklin. Why was he also determined to sign a big name NFL flunky too? Makes you wonder if he really has a plan.

    • Christopher // June 22, 2017 at 2:38 pm //

      I would have to believe that Toronto, Montreal and Hamilton will all be involved in the James Franklin Lottery… and if any of those teams lose their QB during the season … expect them to go hard after Franklin…

      • horsieland // June 22, 2017 at 3:06 pm //

        Franklin might choose Calgary for the privilege of learning behind BLM. That must be considered too.

        • who wants to learn how to choke. franklin would only leave the green and gold pastures of Edmonton to be a starter

        • Humber River // June 22, 2017 at 9:38 pm //

          No consideration at all. Franklin wants starter’s money. He’s not going anywhere to be a backup.

  7. I remember when Calgary had there gong show not that long ago. what a short memory you have.

    • horsieland // June 22, 2017 at 10:00 am //

      You are referring to the Feterik years?.3 bad years but good good before and good right after

  8. Ladd Law // June 22, 2017 at 9:55 am //

    Nothing you can say can explain why you would write this story. Other than Jones called you out for being the trouble stirring hack writer you are. Why would you write this now, on the day of the first game. No where in your story to you mention the record setting injuries the Riders had last year. And you wonder why the Riders and their fans take shots from all other fan bases – is it because the local writers are brain dead and useless??? Try to find some upside to what is happening in Riderville for change Davis. You haven’t changed a bit over the years and still the punk from the neighborhood with no friends.

    • horsieland // June 22, 2017 at 10:08 am //

      Such venom. Don’t take your frustrations out on Darrell. Jones is a joke and should be called out as much as possible.

      • Ladd Law // June 22, 2017 at 10:45 am //

        Similar to you? It not working for you, you’re still here. Unlike you I know Davis and have since elementary school. He hasn’t changed, was and always will be a glass half empty person.

        • horsieland // June 22, 2017 at 11:39 am //

          Wow Ladd Law!! Still holding grudges from elementary school????That my friend is not healthy!

          • Ladd Law // June 22, 2017 at 12:06 pm //

            You are so simple I can’t bother anymore. Not healthy for me to give two shits what you think or say. See ya lou.

    • It’s not the writers, it’s Some of the fans.

  9. Reggie Field // June 22, 2017 at 10:04 am //

    a place for non rider fans to meet and bash. This isn’t even news. For what DD cost for the part of season he is healthy we now have a top left tackle and top receiver that can contribute for years. Turned over 50% of roster last year because of where Tanam left them. the good thing in Sasky is people care about CFL…

    • Ladd Law // June 22, 2017 at 10:50 am //

      Exactly. Why the masses don’t understand that is beyond me. Jones was right, Durant’s record over his career is barely over 500. Riders win tonight.

      • horsieland // June 22, 2017 at 3:08 pm //

        Then Jones should have asked him to take a pay cut in a respectful way. Durant might have gone for it

  10. horsieland // June 22, 2017 at 10:23 am //

    The Alouettes defiantly get the free spot on the BINGO card in week 1

    • Riders13 // June 22, 2017 at 11:12 am //

      Put your money where your mouth is…mine’s on the Riders to both cover the spread and win outright. Durant is gonna make me sweat all night because he’s still a top 3 qb in the league. Wish he was still on our team. And BTW, I’d rather have Dressler instead of CO2. I don’t know Darrell Davis but I’m not a fan of his whining, fatalistic supposed “journalism” style. I’m also not a Jones fan but I’m beginning to see a marked improvement of the Riders on paper…now they’d better go out and prove it!

  11. The good news for Jones is that it shouldn’t really be all that difficult to improve on 2016’s 5-13 record. So my prediction is he gets to be around for 2018 or at least the start of 2018.

  12. ,,Patience // June 22, 2017 at 10:44 am //

    Davis is one of the few local media guys that isn’t a homie. He is only telling it like it is. Like a great deal of fans see it. The “plan” is certainly hard to see because Jones can’t seem to decide which direction to go in. He changes directions, and rosters constantly. And building a plan around Franklin, who may or may not ever get is idiotic. Except for the QB position, I do not accept injuries as an excuse. That speaks to your depth. Jones and Murphy are supposedly great at finding talent yet can’t find adequate starters, let alone backups. If it wasn’t for other teams castoffs, where would this team be? So don’t kill the messenger; Davis is only telling the truth.

    • Ladd Law // June 22, 2017 at 10:53 am //

      Telling like it is from his perspective. You know he’s been kicked out of the Riders locker room for being a pessimistic tool. All you haters are pining on the same ideas and notions. The season only starts today, so maybe throttle back some of your hatred until a few games have been played. Simple concept for even the least enlightened and dense to understand.

    • Riders13 // June 22, 2017 at 11:15 am //

      Dude, there are 11 rookies and at least 4 2nd year players on the roster, as well as 4 2017 draft picks. Some of them are going to be future stars or at least solid performers so it kind of appears that they can find some quality talent. Sure some aren’t going to pan out but that happens to every team in every league.

  13. Horsie I believe stamps nick name is choke. The barn that the stamps play in is so run down that it is joke of the league. Your mayor and council won’t back your team unless it has rainbow colours on it and in the area they say it should be you would think you were in hog town

    • horsieland // June 22, 2017 at 11:43 am //

      Wa WA wa wa wa wa..stop crying. You would kill to have a team like the Stamps have been over 25 years

    • dangnabbit // June 22, 2017 at 1:35 pm //

      I’m sure I’m in the minority, but I really like the plain concrete bowls with wooden benches like you find in the big American colleges: Michigan, Notre Dame, USC, etc. “Modern” stadiums make me feel like I’m watching on TV, which kind of defeats the purpose for me.

      Never had a chance to make it to McMahon, but I get a similar vibe from it.

      • horsieland // June 22, 2017 at 3:16 pm //

        You’re welcome to check out historic McMahon stadium anytime dagnabbit. It is a football shrine!

  14. Quite the non-story. Any coach who puts up a 5-13 season has his job on the line, as do the people that hired him, on any team in the league. The only exceptions are in re-build years, and generally speaking, your only allowed one of those in this 9 team league.

  15. Tiger man // June 22, 2017 at 11:11 am //

    Chamblin was a terrible DC in Hamilton.

    His success in Regina was due to those around him (George Cortez).

    Chris Jones has too many hats…and too much cleaning up to do from the Chamblin era….IF he is to be successful, he will need more time…

    And that commodity is in short supply in Rider land….along with patience….

  16. I’m not sure it’s that easy. The howls for his head will be deafening should we have another disastrous campaign but who do we get to replace him? When the new guy comes in, does he bring in another round of new players. Very likely if this group fizzles. So, in essence, we are looking at a rebuild again.

  17. Improve? Well they certainly can’t get much worse!

  18. When we hired Chris JOnes, (for better or for worse), we made a huge investment in this guy and now we need to let it play out over the 3 years of his contract and see where that goes. If the Riders panic after two years, he gets to go home to Tennessee and collect an ample salary and we risk turning into the Cleveland Browns of the NFL. Patience.

    • Paul Bomber // June 22, 2017 at 2:10 pm //

      to a point
      he’s got to show some progress, but agreed: he’ll be allowed a little more time. If they finish 5 & 13 for example, he won’t be back, contract or not. (not as coach & GM at least)

  19. Don’t fret whiner fans, douchebag Pedersen will come to the rescue with some ridiculous story completely opposite to the crap he spewed when Jones was in Edmonton.

  20. This is a stupid media driven article and conversation that the Riders board are not having themselves, so why is anyone else. Trust me, they gave this man the keys to the Riders future and they are not going to fire him after 1 season no matter how they start or finish this year. The Riders will improve and as I and many believe they will make the playoffs, so this is a waste of time and paper. Next story please. How about this “What do the Stumps need to do to become more than a regular season team”. Now there’s a story with some truth to it.

    • Paul Bomber // June 22, 2017 at 2:07 pm //

      You honestly don’t think the board is tightening up on Jones’ leash? I can pretty much assure you the leash is getting a little snug and if he’s 1 & 6 or 2 & 8 or something like that, he’ll lose either the GM or Coaching gig at a min.

    • horsieland // June 22, 2017 at 3:24 pm //

      lololololololololololololololololololololololololololo……..oh you guys!!! Everything negative on riders is just fake news and Media harassment isn’t it!!???..

      Stamps will be fine. Solution. Give the ball to messam not a QB sneak in the final minute. It’s that simple………….
      maybe we should see what the riders have done to assure they have no more too many men penalties.

    • Super Cabronne // June 23, 2017 at 12:12 pm //

      Head meet sand. Insert here. The rider football organisation is reaping its just rewards for standing by and supporting, as much as they have, such an underhanded reprobate as Chris Jones. His tactics have proven to be a pitiable failure and ran the risk of sullying the league. Davis’ writing, once again, is probably the clearest and most honest attempt at depicting the continued sad reality of professional football in Saskatchewan. Yeah, good luck in those “playoffs”.

  21. Scottsask // June 22, 2017 at 3:06 pm //

    Counting down the minutes!!!

  22. Ron Bates // June 22, 2017 at 3:26 pm //

    Lets do this right and consider the situation in this Provincial Team. Firing off another fire a Head Coach is as sensible as it was firing both Taman and Chamblin/ with big dollars left on contracts/ So really chastising both of the Taman and Chamblin publically and in the press ie writers who either miss the point or are so bedazzled by other leagues doing that a few times works I have seen it happen in Ottawa years ago/ Ask Russ and coaches / now we see the Chamblin under such easy influence in Toronto that he will personally make the City proud of Defence/ Chris Jones is no doubt stewing in his own juices or missing trooper/revenuer road traps on his shine runs that he will come around/ too much money to waste on this/ besides if faced with the right thing to do fire O’Day or Murphy they are to act like they can advise/ Nope crazy once means do do it again and if you can’t stand pressure learn to/ note 12,500 in Montreal/ 5,000 in TO/ good god now the discussion is over we do not have a right fit on our list for the modern job of Commissioner/ Lets think folks/ think/

  23. horsieland // June 22, 2017 at 3:27 pm //

    Jones is probably frantically searching what Alouette cuts are still in town. He’s still hot 2 hours to declare his roster.

  24. ,,Patience // June 22, 2017 at 3:57 pm //

    To Ladd Law: concerning Darrell Davis being kicked out of the Rider locker room. Jones also told George Reed that he was no longer welcome at the field to watch practices last summer. George Reed, a Rider icon. If he wants to sit in the stands and watch a practice, help him to a seat and get him a coffee. Come on, man. Find some class. So Darrell Davis is in some pretty good company with people that Jones doesn’t want to see. Funny that Mr Reed and Davis will both point out weaknesses in the team as they see it. Yes, I call him Mr Reed because he deserves our respect. I will never put those two letters in front of Jones’ name.

    • horsieland // June 22, 2017 at 4:10 pm //

      People who try to muzzle their critics are up to no good. Look at the history books

    • @,,Patience – It wasn’t Jones who asked Mr Reed to not go to practices, it was Corey Chamblin after jackalops were posting insider info from practices on the net. Your hatred of Coach Jones is so strong your starting to blame him for things he didn’t do, weak Sir, very weak.

  25. Antlerman // June 22, 2017 at 4:41 pm //

    Nobody that is under the age of 30 . Listens to Darrel Davis maybe he should be shown the door like Carm . If the Cfl is to flourish in the future we need to promote positive thing not negative things.There is a reason Riders have won only 4 cups maybe let Jones do his job he signed for 3 years and been in his postion for only 1 . And if these reporters are so smart why arent they in the buiness of running a team instead of reporting on them

    • horsieland // June 22, 2017 at 5:52 pm //

      On other words.If you don’t write positive things about the riders you should be fired. How Trumpian of you

  26. ,,Patience // June 22, 2017 at 5:42 pm //

    Grain:It was Mr Reed who said last summer that he had been going to practices at the beginning of the season until Jones told him that he was not welcome. Chamblin was no longer in town at that time. You cannot blame him for things that happened six months after he left. When I heard George Reed say that, that was definitely when I began to hate Jones. If that is a weak reason to dislike him, then add fines, cheating , lies, etc.

  27. ,,Patience // June 22, 2017 at 5:47 pm //

    So we shouldn’t have any unbiased opinions? Only those that you agree with? Think about that. Do you want to live in Russia or Syria?

    • horsieland // June 22, 2017 at 5:53 pm //

      Excellent point patience.

    • I’d be happy with you not spouting negative poison in every post. Unbiased opinions are one thing, CONSTANTLY complaining and tearing down and what people who live in Russia and Syria do.

      • horsieland // June 22, 2017 at 6:11 pm //

        Well there is Russian in my blood so I guess the shoe fits. I should see if I’m related to Putin that could really pay off

  28. Scottsask // June 22, 2017 at 5:57 pm //

    90 more minutes!

  29. horsieland // June 22, 2017 at 6:34 pm //

    The first beer had been sold

    • Nice. I’ll be listening on the radio while watching the Okotoks Dawgs play, my version of a double header.

  30. Judge Jones // June 22, 2017 at 6:53 pm //

    I’m surprised there are still some Riders’ fan around. On game day don’t they all congregate around the radio and listen to Bishop Pedersen explain how the Riders will be 14-4? Right numbers, wrong order.

  31. BleedzGreen // June 22, 2017 at 7:06 pm //

    So everybody – including Drew Edwards – comes to Darrell Davis to ask if Jones is going to be fired? Riiight. I wouldn’t ask you for directions to the outhouse Mr. Davis, which is where most of your material belongs.

  32. This is a five to six win team.

    If it all hinges on James Franklin who probably would rather be around a guy like Trestman or Chapdelaine, then why pay a ransom to Jones?

  33. Big guy // June 23, 2017 at 6:15 pm //

    it amazes me that people talk about Franklin going anywhere. If I was Maas I would sit tight and see how Reilly does this year. He is over 30 and not much time left. Would be worth just as much to trade as Franklin and has very few years left. Don’t be surprised if Reilly is traded at the end of the year instead of Franklin. Can’t afford both so you need to look to the future, not the past. Reilly has taken a beating over the years and probably is the most expensive QB in the league. They are not beating Calgary or BC this year so start thinking of the future. And either way you don’t trade a QB in the same division, not ever.

  34. BleedzGreen // June 23, 2017 at 6:34 pm //

    Remind us again how the Esks acquired Reilly?

    Teams trade wherever they get the deal.

  35. kelly young // June 24, 2017 at 1:03 am //

    okay jones let the cheating begin, i been going games since 1980,he is arrogant änd not saskatchewan

  36. Rob Sorensen // June 24, 2017 at 8:26 am //

    Fire Murphy, have CJ be….the Head Coach and bring back Eric Tillman as General Manager. The combination of Tillman and Jones would make the Riders the most competitive team in the league. Too much for Jones and a bad move to make him in charge of everything.

  37. BleedzGreen // June 24, 2017 at 9:18 pm //

    Doubt the Prez or BOD would ever bring Tillman back – Nice pipe dream though.

    I don’t think Jones is NEARLY as pressured as some believe. While he undoubtedly has final say, I’m certain Murphy and O’Day are handling a great deal of his workload.

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