JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars want their third trip to London to be better than the first two, which is why the team decided to stay home for most of the week before departing for the United Kingdom on Thursday night.
The Jaguars have altered their travel plans because they’re trying to find out what works best for them logistically, both the week before and during the trip. The hope is spending extra time at home instead of the entire week in London will allow the team to have a somewhat normal game week.
The risk is the players won’t have as much time to acclimate to the time change (five hours ahead) and recover from the jet lag of the 8 1/2-hour flight.
The travel change has brought mixed reviews from the players.
Some like the change, but others aren’t sure and want to see how their bodies respond and how they play in Sunday’s game against Buffalo in Wembley Stadium before deciding if they would prefer heading overseas for the entire week.
"I like doing the majority of our preparation here," linebacker Paul Posluszny said. "Getting the chance to still be in our facility, have access to everything that we normally do [is preferable]. I like routine, let’s put it that way. I’m a fan of routine. Structure, routine. So yes, I like this format."
This will be Posluszny’s second trip to London (he didn’t go last season because he was recovering from shoulder surgery). Tight end Marcedes Lewis also missed last season’s trip with a high ankle sprain, but like Posluszny made the trip in 2013 when the Jaguars left on Monday, one day after playing a home game at EverBank Field.
"I think [leaving Thursday] has its pros and cons either way," Lewis said. "I know when we went out there early a few guys were like, 'Man it just doesn’t feel the same. We’re just on the road taking all of our stuff and then trying to get comfortable and get acclimated so fast.' Obviously this is going to be a new experience being able to go through the game week and then flying out there just for walk-throughs and stuff. I’ll let you know after the game how it was."
Because the Jaguars will be arriving in London at 7:30 a.m. local time and then having their normal Friday work day, the Jaguars are hammering the players all week about, among other things, staying hydrated and making sure to sleep on the chartered flight.
"Personally I feel like I adjusted pretty quick [on his two previous trips]," running back Toby Gerhart said. "I basically fell asleep, slept eight hours, woke up and it was 9 a.m. I felt pretty normal. It’ll be interesting to see when we leave at 6 p.m. how many guys can fall asleep quickly on the plane."
This is the third approach the team has taken for its annual overseas trip. In 2013, the Jaguars played a home game against San Diego and left for London the next day. They departed Jacksonville in the evening and arrived in London on Tuesday morning. Last season the Jaguars left for London immediately after playing a road game in Cincinnati and arrived a little later in the morning. The Jaguars lost games to San Francisco and Dallas by a combined 73-27.
The Jaguars want to find what works best for them because the team has extended its agreement to play one home game annually in London through 2020. If the Jaguars play well against the Bills -- and maybe even win the game -- then future trips might begin on Thursdays.