The Tampa Bay Buccaneers should be arriving at London’s Heathrow Airport sometime this afternoon. The early arrival is a major change from when the Bucs played in London in 2009.
On that trip, the Bucs treated the game the same way they would treat a West Coast trip. They arrived Friday night and tried to stay on their regular schedule. They lost that game and that may be a big part of the reason why they’re going to spend the whole week in London getting ready for Sunday’s game with the Chicago Bears at Wembley Stadium.
The players will be off Tuesday, although they’ll be making some public appearances. They’ll start a practice schedule Wednesday that will be similar to what they usually do at home, but their body clocks will have had time to adjust.
The Bears aren’t arriving until Thursday and they had to play a Sunday night game against Minnesota. In recent years, different teams have taken different approaches on when to travel to London.
The approach the Bucs are taking this year is similar to what the New Orleans Saints did when they went to London and got a win against San Diego. The Saints played the previous Sunday in Charlotte and left directly from there for London. The Saints got acclimated and jumped into their regular practice schedule that Wednesday.
“Any time you’re traveling that far and there’s a big time change, there’s a big adjustment,’’ New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees said in a conference call with the Tampa Bay media last week. “I think getting used to the time change and the atmosphere and elements and just having a chance to kind of hunker down for a week and really practice and focus on football. That way, you can get all the newness and the hype out of your system early in the week and then you can just start to focus on football.’’
The Saints stayed at a resort that had a soccer field turned into a practice field for most of the week. The Bucs are doing something similar.
“We had a great setup, where we got through that jet lag on Monday, Tuesday and sort of Wednesday,’’ New Orleans coach Sean Payton said in a conference call with the Tampa Bay media last week. “That’s your main practice day. But as the week progressed and we traveled into the city before the game, it helped get everyone on their clocks and comfortable with the routine. I only know the way we approached it. I would probably say we’d approach it the exact same way, having gone through it before.’’