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Elks add Shivers, four others to coaching staff

Jason Shivers Jason Shivers -

EDMONTON — Chris Jones is easing his workload.

The Edmonton Elks announced Monday that Jason Shivers will be the team’s assistant head coach, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach this season. This takes the defensive coordinator job away from Jones, who remains as the team’s head coach and general manager.

Jones, whose second stint with the Elks has seen him lead the team to a 8-28 record over the past two seasons, had often been criticized by fans and the media for wearing too many hats in the organization. With Jones running the defence, the Elks gave up 28.7 points per game in 2023, the second-worst mark in the CFL.

“When it’s something you’ve done for so long, it’s kind of like when you’re driving the car, sometimes you have to let somebody else drive,” said Jones. “As I’ve gotten older, turning the reins loose, it will be tough.

"But I am going to have my input with it, but it’s going to be a lot of fun because I’m working with a guy that I completely trust and know. And I know he’s going to give everything he’s got, every single day.”

With Shivers, Jones is bringing in a coach who shares a lot of his defensive philosophies.

This will be Shivers’s second stint on Edmonton’s sidelines. He was the team’s defensive backs coach from 2014-2015. Jones was in his first stint coaching the Elks when the team won the Grey Cup in 2015 with Shivers on staff.

“First and foremost, it’s effort,” said Shivers. “It’s about maximum effort to get to the football. The game is about the football. Second, when we get to the football, we’ve got to be in a bad mood. We’ve got to want to take the football away.

"Third, to play winning defence, we’ve got to keep people out of the end zone — and the more we can keep people out of the end zone, force them to kick field goals, knock them out of field goal range when they even get that close, it’s just going to help our offensive staff.”

When Jones left Edmonton ahead of the 2016 season to take over the Saskatchewan Roughriders coaching and managing duties, Shivers went with him. Shivers was the defensive backs coach until 2019, when he was promoted to defensive coordinator.

Jones left the Roughriders to take a coaching job with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns that year.

“Jason, he’s been doing this for a minute,” said Jones. “He’s had a lot of success in Saskatchewan. We’ve been together for 100 years, it seems like. He knows exactly what I am looking for and we won’t stray too far from our roots. We are who we are.”

“We’re like family, so, obviously we stay in touch,” said Shivers. “We always knew if the opportunity presented itself later on, we would cross paths and work together again.”

Markus Klund (defensive backs coach), Albert Poree (running backs coach), Nate O’Neal (defensive line coach) and Takoby Cofield (assistant offensive line coach) were the four other coaches brought into the fold.

Klund also made the move from Saskatchewan to join the Elks staff.

The 2023 season was harsh on Shivers. The Roughriders had the worst defence in the CFL, surrendering a league-high 30.6 points per game and 382.8 yards per game. Shivers was not retained by Saskatchewan.

Shivers believes that despite the 4-14 mark last season, the Elks showed significant signs of improvement in the second half of the season, going 4-5 in that stretch.

“The Edmonton Elks had a solid team,” said Shivers. “The record didn’t reflect that, but week in and week out, any coach you’d ask in the CFL didn’t want to play them.

"That’s because you didn’t know what you were going to get, and they could put it on you.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 18, 2024.