Where Do the Elks Go From Here?

Where Do the Elks Go From Here?

It’s not always clear to know when a sports team hits rock bottom, to know the exact game or exact situation where a team has reached the lowest ebb in its history – it can often be in the eye of the beholder. But in the case of the Edmonton Elks, it’s clear as day. July 30th 2023, the day the Edmonton Elks set a new record for longest home losing streak in North American professional sports (twenty-one consecutive defeats) in a 27-0 loss to the BC Lions.

This franchise which once went thirty-four consecutive seasons with playoff football, won five Grey Cups in a row and as recently as 2018 where averaging attendances above 30,000…. Now, sitting at 0-8, all of those seem like a distant memory. The only direction from this point is up, and while it may seem hopeless, the Elks have to go somewhere from here, the question though is where? Here are just options the Edmonton Elks might choose to take between now and the end of the season.


Option 1; Hope it all comes together

For as bad as the Elks have been this season, they are only three and a half wins (Saskatchewan owns the tie breaker) away from a playoff spot currently. Outside of the top two in Winnipeg and BC, the rest of the West isn’t particularly strong, with Calgary looking like a shadow of their former selves and Saskatchewan not being the same team at all since Trevor Harris got injured. Two of Edmonton’s best performances this season have came against the Riders, and if it wasn’t for poor decisions at the end of each game, they easily could have two wins over the Green and White.

The combined margin of defeat for Edmonton vs Saskatchewan so far this year is only five points . (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Heywood Yu)

Edmonton is still to play Calgary this season, the feeling of invincibility that once was associated the Stampeders has now diminished. Calgary are also yet to win a home game this year, and with their next two home outings against Toronto and Winnipeg, it’s entirely possible that they’ll be winless at home going into the Labour Day Classic.

Edmonton have a five game stretch coming up against Hamilton, Ottawa, Calgary (twice) and Saskatchewan, none of those teams right now (after week eight) have a winning record. It feels like a long shot, but if Edmonton can somehow, magically get it together over their bye week, a playoff spot isn’t quite out of reach yet.


Option 2; Start Tre Ford the rest of the season

One thing above all has been very clear for Edmonton this season…their quarterbacks are nowhere near good enough. Taylor Cornelius has been “one stop forward, five steps back” in almost every game he’s played this season. Meanwhile the Elks QB2 – Jarret Doege has also underperformed when he’s played in relief. Fans are fed up, with many Edmonton fans and CFL fans in general clamouring for QB3 to get reps – Tre Ford.

Tre Ford, Edmonton Elks – Via the Edmonton Elks on Twitter

Ford was the most hyped U-Sports prospect in a very long time, and does have some CFL experience having played last season, most notably in week four last year against Hamilton, where he led the Elks to their first win of the season. While it doesn’t make much of a difference on the field, the fact that Ford is Canadian is something that people care about. We seen that last year with how much excitement Nathan Rourke generated last year for BC, even before he played his first down in 2022.

There is no way Cornelius or Doege can be starting at quarterback for this team next season, I fully expect Edmonton to either sign a more proven CFL QB like they did with Michael Reilly, or look south and hopefully find a diamond in the rough like they have did Ricky Ray. So assuming that’s the case, there is nothing to lose with playing Ford. If he sinks, then at least you know, and it probably helped you in the PR department a bit, if he swims like he did at Waterloo, then oh boy Edmonton is in for a treat!


Option 3; Make a huge trade(s)

The CFL trade deadline isn’t for quite a while still, and a trade would arguably be Edmonton’s best chance for a quick turnaround. Sometimes it only takes one move during the season for a team to get that key missing piece e.g, Zach Collaros to Winnipeg in 2019 and while a similar outcome is very unlikely, the right piece would give them a boost.

B.C. Lions quarterback Dane Evans (17) makes the throw against the Edmonton Elks during first half CFL action in Edmonton, Alta., on Saturday July 29, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

The obvious option would be Dan Evans of the BC Lions, but BC are very reluctant to let their insurance for Vernon Adam’s Jr leave seeing as he’s already been called into action this season. There isn’t really any standout notable back up quarterbacks at the moment, which means if Edmonton want to trade for a QB they’ll have to make an offer a team can’t refuse. They could also try upgrading other positions on the offence such as the O-line or Running back corp to at least try and help their current signal callers more.

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Option 4; Find a way to get rid of Chris Jones

I know, I know, there’s a coaching cap. Since it came out that Jones is on a four year deal, the prospect of firing the Elks head coach has been a lot more complicated. If Jones is fired, it will have serious repercussions on the Elks budget going forward with whoever they want to hire next.

Edmonton Elks head coach Chris Jones reacts to an interception on his team while playing the B.C. Lions during second half CFL action in Edmonton, Alta., on Saturday July 29, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

But there has to be a breaking point, right? The team is 0-8, surly there must be a point of absolute no return for Jones where Edmonton will have no choice but to fire him? There is also the possibility that maaaaaybe Chris Jones understands the situation? He’s a proud man who has done well everywhere else he has been in the CFL, and he might recognise that this situation with Edmonton isn’t working for anyone, also the longer he stays and continues to lose, the more difficult it will be for him to secure his next job after Edmonton. Admiralty that is very optimistic, it’s highly unlikely that Chris Jones will relinquish his head coach and GM position without compensation, but hey, if they keep losing, something has to happen…right?

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