Jaguars taking different approach to annual London trip
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) The Jacksonville Jaguars have approached their annual trip to London several different ways.
They traveled early in the week following a home game. They flew across the pond after a road game. This week, they will arrive three days before playing Buffalo (3-3).
Although the details have varied from year to year, the Jaguars (1-5) believe they have a much better grasp on the irregular routine of being 4,200 miles from home. And they would like to finally benefit from it.
Jacksonville lost its first two games at Wembley Stadium by a combined score of 73-27.
”The last couple times it was straight massacres out there,” veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis said Wednesday. ”So we’re trying to change that around.”
The Jaguars, who have lost four in a row, believe making the overseas trek the last two years will eliminate any potential for players and coaches to be shell-shocked or awe-struck by London.
”It’s a great city, but the reason we’re going over there is to play a football game at our highest level,” linebacker Paul Posluszny said. ”We can experience the city when we get a minute, but we need to make sure it doesn’t affect anything work related.”
Jaguars owner Shad Khan said last month he expects to play annually in London at least until 2030. The NFL has an announcement scheduled for Thursday afternoon, and it could be for a long-term deal that will have Jacksonville playing one home game annually in London for the foreseeable future.
The Jaguars clearly want to be London’s team. But they also want to make playing there as much of a home-field advantage as possible.
”We know we’re going to go there every year, so let’s take advantage of this,” Posluszny said. ”It’s important for our organization, so let’s do the job on the field and make it that way.”
Khan calls playing in London the ”No. 1 element to stabilizing” the small-market franchise. The annual trip, one of Jacksonville’s 10 home games, including exhibitions, accounts for 15 percent of the team’s local revenue. So there are reasons for the trip.
The Jaguars just need to find the best way to make it successful.
They arrived two years back on a Monday, spent an entire week getting acclimated and lost 42-10 to San Francisco. Of course, that team had about as much talent as an expansion franchise and probably would have lost to the 49ers on any field on the planet.
Last year, they flew from Cincinnati to London hours after losing to the Bengals on Sunday. They were in London an extra day before the game, but it didn’t matter: Dallas beat Jacksonville 31-17. Once again, it was a matchup of an eventual division winner and a rebuilding team.
This time around, the Jaguars are treating it much more like a West Coast trip. They’re leaving after practice Thursday and will arrive Friday morning. They’ll check into the hotel and then get on the field for some light jogging.
The team has mandated that players sleep during the eight-hour flight, even offering sleeping pills and suggesting eye shades and noise-canceling headphones. But the Jags won’t know if the adjusted schedule makes a difference until Sunday.
”I’ve tried it many different ways,” said defensive tackle Roy Miller, who will be playing his fifth game in London. ”I’m kind of excited we get to stay here and go through our routine and just go there later in the week. When you get there early, you kind of get caught up in wanting to do a lot of things. For younger guys, that might take some focus away. Everybody wants to get around and see different things.
”We feel like we’ve been there before enough times that we know what we need to do.”
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