LONDON – Over the five years the Jaguars have hosted a home game in London they’ve tried several ways get themselves ready to play the game. Five years ago they left on Sunday night right after playing the Bengals in Cincinnati. The next year they left on the Monday and practiced in London for the week. But since they lost, badly, both of those years against the Cowboys and 49ers, they tried a quick turnaround, practicing at home, leaving Thursday afternoon for a Sunday game last year. And when they beat Buffalo using that plan, they followed the schedule to the minute the following year and beat Indianapolis.
The team followed that that schedule this year facing the Ravens at Wembley on Sunday. It could be called superstitious but more accurately it creates a routine the players can count on.
“I think so,” quarterback Blake Bortles said after an early afternoon practice at Allianz Field for the third straight year. “A big group of guys have been on this trip a couple of years. It helps to have a routine; it helps with sleep and having some experience here. We try to stay up as long as possible today and usually everybody feels good by Saturday.”
Traveling on the world’s longest commercial airliner, the Virgin America jet has enough first class seats for most of the players to have a lie-flat bed and get some sleep crossing the Atlantic. On domestic away games, the coaches sit up front. The team arrived early Friday morning, checked into their hotel and went immediately to practice, with Head Coach Doug Marrone saying every player reacts to the trip differently.
“For each player that’s done it before it works for them,” he noted. “They know what to do. I don’t think there’s one clear way to do it. You’re here on a business trip, not sightseeing not on vacation.”
It was obvious after practice today that the players were anxious to get back on the field. They’ve had success the last two years at Wembley and last week’s loss to the Titans at home stung the players after having success in week one against the Texans.
“We kinda break the season down into quarters and right now we’re 1-1,” Bortles explained. “We want to win every quarter so we have a chance to get back on track this week.”
It would seem silly to call the game in week three of the regular season as a “must win” game. But without a bye following the trip to London and back-to-back road games at the Jets and the Steelers, a win this week on their “home” turf at Wembley Stadium would go a long way in helping the team be competitive in the division.
“I want that mentality every week,” Marrone added. “Treat everything as a must win.”