JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s a long trip for a home game, but it’s a break from the norm.
And the norm hasn’t been kind to the Jaguars.
The Jaguars leave on Thursday for their Sunshine State showdown against the Dolphins in London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The burning question more than an overseas trip is can Jacksonville finally put four quarters together?
The norm — for all but one week last year and every week this season — is a Jaguars’ loss. Jacksonville (0-5) brings a 20-game losing streak into Sunday’s 9:30 a.m. showdown against the Dolphins (1-4), hopeful that weekly progress (and a change of scenery) will be the cure for a miserable start.
“It’s just, it’s kind of ironic we’re going all the way to London to play a team from Miami, that’s the one thing I thought about,” said Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
For coach Urban Meyer, the trip overseas will be his first as a head coach in either the NFL or college.
“The one thing I found out, the players actually, the ones I’ve talked to, enjoy it. They like going over there,” he said. “We had a long discussion about it, I mean there’s, there’s long discussion about why we do it and then you know just the national, the international appeal the NFL.”
The Jaguars know London very well.
They’ve played more international games than any other NFL franchise, going 3-4 over there. Owner Shad Khan made the Jaguars a staple in London, playing a home game there from 2013-19. He planned on playing two home games there in 2020 — local fans were irate about that decision — but the pandemic scuttled all international games there last year.
Jacksonville hopes something works to shake it from a perpetual state of losing. Meyer said that players have continued to respond to what’s asked of them.
“If you have a group that works hard but doesn’t believe, you just have a bunch of hard-working guys,” Meyer said. “If you have a group that believes, but doesn’t hard work, doesn’t work hard, you have a bunch of people just wishing. The combination, I see it growing, I see a team growing, I see a team getting better.”
Lawrence is one reason for the improvement.
He played turnover-free football in a 24-21 loss to the Bengals on Thursday night in Week 4. Lawrence was turnover-free for the most part (he was intercepted on a garbage-time play with less than a minute to play) against the Titans last Sunday in a 37-19 loss.
Lawrence said that he was looking forward to his second trip to London. His first came last spring on his honeymoon. The progress for the team, he said, is there, even if it hasn’t shown up in the win column yet.
“We’re all learning from them and moving on. And I don’t think you can necessarily measure that, I just think you can feel, each week, I know I do, I feel like I’m getting better and I feel like it’s helping us every week, stay in the game and have a chance to win it,” Lawrence said. “You saw, like last week, obviously it kind of got away from us in the end. In the Bengals game, every week you know we’re having a chance to win it. We just got to make the plays and finish it.”