Jaguars believe familiarity with London trip provides slight edge

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars are reeling after three consecutive losses, their starting quarterback getting benched, and frustrations boiling over in the locker room. Their annual trip to London couldn't be coming at a better time.

Not just because it allows them the chance to do the "close ranks" and "us-against-the-world" thing, either. The Jaguars have nailed down their mechanics of going overseas and preparing for a game, and believe that gives them an advantage at Wembley Stadium.

That's critical for a team that desperately needs something good to happen.

"Having gone through it a few times, you kind of understand what's going on," right guard A.J. Cann said. "It's not really new to you. I would agree [that it's an advantage], but we still have to adjust to the sleep schedule and the time [difference]. But I would say, yeah, we get to understand how it works [and that helps]."

This will be the sixth consecutive year the Jaguars have played a home game in London and the fourth year in a row in which they'll leave Jacksonville on Thursday evening. The Jaguars arrive in London on Friday morning, make a brief stop at their hotel, and then head to their designated practice field to have their normal Friday light workout/walk-through.

They settled on that schedule in 2015 after spending a week in the United Kingdom in 2013 and 2014. They've not lost since, beating Buffalo, Indianapolis and Baltimore. All three teams were making their first trip overseas to play -- as is Sunday's opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles.

Jaguars players say having so many players and staff members who have made multiple trips to London is an advantage, because they're familiar with everything: the hotel, the practice facility, the food, the weather, the atmosphere, the schedule and the field conditions. Members of the Jaguars equipment staff were already working on Monday to switch to longer cleats to deal with the heavier surface at Wembley Stadium.

Most important, though, is the fact most of the Jaguars players know how their body handles the overnight flight, the five-hour time difference, how long it will take them to recover, and how to ensure they feel their best on game day. Only 13 of the 53 players on the active roster have not played at least one game in London, and 16 players have made at least two trips with the Jaguars.

"Being a guy that's been to London twice, I think it's just more so about you just finding your sleep pattern, because they're five hours ahead of us," said defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who will be making his third trip. "Once you find that sleep pattern you should be fine, because your body should get adjusted and ready for game day."

Players love routine, and that's why some believe their familiarity with the routine the team has worked out for the London trip has been a part of why they've won three in a row at Wembley Stadium. Last season's 44-7 victory against Baltimore was their most convincing of the three, and after the game Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the Jaguars had a much better understanding of the logistics of the trip.

"There were some certain things that came up that you look at it and you go, 'That wasn't ideal,'" Harbaugh told reporters. "But we really had no way of knowing that. Some things we have no control over. We have no control where we stay, how far the bus ride is, how long it takes to get to the stadium. What impact it had are things we look at."

Right now, the Jaguars are hoping whatever advantage they have in London will help them do something they haven't done this month.

"I think we need to win more than ever," defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. "We've got a good Eagles team coming up there in London. I think we have a lot of good energy out there, so hopefully we can go out there and pick up a win there and go into the bye week with a win."