JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There's enough of a control group now for some trends to start appearing regarding NFL teams playing regular season games in London. Is it better to leave early in the week or late? How do teams fare the week before going? How about after their bye? (which always comes after the London trip)
It appears teams headed to London don't play very well before their trip and there's some evidence that leaving late in the week is better than going over and staying to prep for the game. This year, the Jaguars are trying their third scenario. After leaving on a Monday in 2013 and last year on a Sunday, the team will arrive in London on Friday and look at it as a short business trip.
As the "home" team for London, the Jaguars are in the third year of a four-year agreement that no doubt will be extended sometime this week. They should be getting used to having a trip to the UK as part of their season.
"Right, the more guys on our team that have done the trip," Head Coach Gus Bradley said after Wednesday's practice. He acknowledged changing the schedule this year is another experiment. "This year (going on) Thursday to try to get a feel of how fast our guys acclimate to it, and so it gives us an opportunity to see what works."
The trip overseas is important to the Jaguars economically, creating more sponsorship opportunities and entertainment options for the team's partners. They've hosted parties at the Tower of London, Kensington Palace and this year at Abbey Road Studios. Bradley is aware of the positive impact this game has on the franchise overall.
"I know there are a lot of good things going on over there in terms of us, with merchandising and things like that. So, I think the popularity of our team is growing over there, and it's a great atmosphere."
This week might be a little different for the Jaguars as they travel on Thursday because they've been disappointing three weeks in a row. Coming off their loss to the Texans at home stings, but they claim that's all behind them. Quarterback Blake Bortles has a routine to deal with success, or failure.
"Yeah. I usually take Mondays to kind of mull it around a little bit and learn from it but after Monday I think you've got to let it go," he said at his weekly media briefing. "You've got to take what you can, learn from it. I know this is all repetitive but learn from it, move on and get into the next game plan."
As far as last week, Bortles said he learned a valuable lesson about what they're calling "situational football."
"I think situational football on the interception right before halftime, just bad situational football. I think communication, being able to stay on the same page with guys so that we're as one unit I think throughout the game."
He's still learning as a second-year quarterback; perhaps not fast enough for some fans but the coaching staff is trying to develop every part of his game, physically and mentally. Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson has a reputation of making quarterbacks better and he knows its as much between the ears as it is throwing a football.
"You've got to learn to play one play to one play," he said Wednesday when asked about keeping a quarterback focused on success. "It's no more important than at the quarterback position. If a guy can't let go of a mistake and it carries to the next play that's when it becomes a problem. Certainly I think he'll gain the respect of his teammates when they see how hard he competes on every play and how important it is to him when a play doesn't succeed."