“I loved it.” Those were the words Chris Jones used to characterize his last three seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The Green Zone’s Jamie Nye caught up with Jones on Wednesday after he resigned from the Roughriders.
Jones signed a contract to be the Cleveland Browns’ senior defensive specialist on Tuesday.
Jones said the whole thing happened really quickly. Originally he was supposed to meet with the Browns staff on Thursday, but they called and moved it up to Tuesday.
He sat down with the team for about six hours and by the end, he had a job offer.
Jones said he called Roughriders President and CEO Craig Reynolds right away to tell him.
The deal with Cleveland comes exactly one week after Jones and the rest of his coaching and football operations staff signed contract extensions through 2020.
“Time is of the essence on these things,” Jones explained. “I didn’t want to delay or drag my feet or anything like that so they (the Roughriders) could do whatever they needed to in the best interest of Saskatchewan.”
Jones leaves a big hole in the organization.
Along with being the head coach and defensive coordinator, he’s also the general manager and vice-president of football operations.
The Roughriders said the club will be looking to fill those vacancies as soon as possible.
Jones said the club is in good hands with experienced coaches like Stephen McAdoo and Craig Dickenson.
Jones believes defensive backs coach Jason Shivers is ready to take a step up.
“They’re (the Riders) in a real good position right now, they have a tremendous operations group … and the staff has a lot of continuity, a lot of carryover,” Jones said.
“The guys who have been with me know our system, our players know them. I think we got a really good locker room,” he said, adding many free agents have already agreed to come back and it’s just a matter of getting the formalities done.
“You got veterans and guys that have been through it with me for five years sitting over there and they won a ton of football games so just because I’m not in the building hasn’t made them become lesser football coaches.”
For Jones going to the NFL fufills a childhood dream.
“You finally look at the mirror and realized what you’re looking at – five-foot-eight, not very fast guy playing a skill position so you decide to go into coaching,” he laughed.
“So at that juncture, you want to try to coach at the highest level, naturally, and you just try to do what you can to put yourselves in that position.”
Just like he did when he came to coach in Saskatchewan.
“I wouldn’t change a thing other than five weeks that first year,” he said. “It was a really challenging time, certainly, but that was exactly what we were looking…to go to a place that cares about football. The first thing (Saskatchewan does) in the morning at the cafe is talk about football and they’re reading about football and they’re commenting about football – that’s why we left Edmonton.”
“I’ll certainly be following and watching on TV and texting with the staff,” he added. “I’ll worry them to death probably – it’s a bittersweet moment.”
-With files from the Green Zone’s Jamie Nye.
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