Chris Jones going from messiah to mere mortal in return to Edmonton Elks

‘We’re 0-1 proper now. That is actuality. We won’t get it again. The factor we have to do is try to attempt to change into nearly as good a soccer participant and crew as we will’

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New 12 months.

New-look roster.

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Usual consequence.

Issues didn’t begin out as deliberate for the Edmonton Elks, who kicked off the 2023 Canadian Soccer League season 0-1 after falling quick to the visiting Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday.

It was alleged to be a brand new starting for the membership that has spent the previous two seasons toiling on the backside of the West Division standings.

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A recent begin.

A clear slate.

An opportunity to indicate everybody in Edmonton and throughout the nation they’re not the identical Edmonton Elks everybody remembers — if anybody was even nonetheless excited about them in any respect.

For the second time in his profession, Chris Jones inherited a broken-down green-and-gold roster that he was charged with turning round very quickly flat.

In 2014, he took the membership from 4-14 to a Gray Cup championship in simply two years, going 26-10 (.722) within the common season, 12 wins of which got here in his rookie 12 months as a head coach that went down as Edmonton’s most wins in 11 years.

However nowadays, Jones is wanting way more mortal and completely much less messiah.

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In 2021, he returned to take over a crew that completed 4-14 and on the backside of the heap as soon as once more. Solely this time, they barely moved up one spot within the standings.

And this 12 months started with them stumbling out of the gates as a substitute of exhibiting they had been able to take the subsequent step, as a 17-13 loss within the opener now provides Jones a 4-15 document (.211) in his Edmonton reboot.

“The simple factor is to panic and throw the infant out with the tub water. That’s simply not what we’re going to do,” Jones stated. “Coaches have gotten to do a greater job, No. 1. We’ve received to provide you with sport plans which can be simpler to take action that we will play at the next charge of effectivity on all three phases.”

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It’s exhausting to argue the defence was at fault after surrendering simply 17 factors. However both the offence or particular groups might have stepped up and made a distinction.

And it seemed prefer it was going to be the offence following a 102-yard landing reception by Eugene Lewis within the second quarter … if it wasn’t for the truth that one play accounted for half of Taylor Cornelius’s 202 passing yards within the sport.

“We talked about it, too, we performed as unhealthy as we did and we nonetheless had an opportunity ultimately on the one-yard line,” Cornelius stated of a defensive stand that noticed the Roughriders shut down three of Edmonton’s makes an attempt to punch within the ball for the go-ahead landing within the dying minutes. “And we all know we will play so significantly better than we did.

“We left rather a lot on the market and, clearly, not our greatest soccer by any means.”

It’s child steps proper now for a membership that’s introducing double-digit new starters into the lineup, with seven new faces on defence and three extra within the offence.

And it confirmed early on, with all the brand new transferring elements leading to a rash of 5 penalties in a primary quarter that noticed Saskatchewan soar to a 7-3 lead.

“We’ve received a ton of rookies and we’re going to must dwell with them now,” stated Jones, who promptly received issues in verify from there and completed with seven infractions for 85 yards, in comparison with Saskatchewan’s 5 penalties for 56 yards. “They’re good gamers they usually’re going to be good gamers. We’ve received to get them to play throughout the guidelines.

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“We’ve received to play extra disciplined soccer, in order that turns into my job.”

Subsequent up on Jones’ to-do listing: Be certain that 0-1 doesn’t flip into 0-2 because the Elks take to the highway in opposition to the B.C. Lions on Saturday (5 p.m., TSN, 630 CHED). It’s a comparatively fast five-day turnaround between video games after having a two-week break between the tip of their pre-season schedule and opening day.

And the main focus of this week’s preparations lies in simplifying what the gamers are being requested to do on the sector to be able to enhance execution, whereas additionally holding issues mild and upbeat to keep away from any here-we-go-again kind of ideas.

“It’s not going to be a funeral house, I can guarantee you,” Jones stated of his crew’s 0-1 begin. “I imply, Calgary’s in the identical boat we’re. They misplaced a sport at house that I’m positive they didn’t anticipate shedding as a result of they’re very, very powerful at house.”

Nobody is accusing the Elks of the identical after failing to close the door on a CFL-record house shedding streak that now sits at 18 video games.

“And folks ask concerning the streak,” Jones stated. “Now we have, like, six guys in our constructing which can be left from that crew two years in the past or each time it was when all that began. And we’ve received a boatload of those rookies that had been in faculty final 12 months enjoying soccer, they’d nothing to do with (Edmonton’s document) final 12 months.

“So, we’re 0-1 proper now. That’s actuality. We will’t get it again. The factor we’ve received to do is try to attempt to change into nearly as good a soccer participant and crew as we will. We’ve received to be a greater coach, after which transfer on to the subsequent opponent, which is excellent as a result of that’s the crew that beat Calgary on the highway.”


On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge

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