The Jaguars’ unprecedented two-week stay in London is complete, with two wins secured in as many contests.
Consider the mission accomplished. Next up: Avoiding a hangover in a key game against a division rival.
Indianapolis comes to town this Sunday with an identical 3-2 record, but is trailing the Jaguars in the AFC South standings by virtue of Jacksonville’s Week 1 win in Indiana’s capital. The Jaguars can continue to build on their recent success by scoring a season sweep of the Colts this weekend. They know, though, that it won’t be easy for more than just football reasons: The Jaguars are also adjusting to a five-hour difference in time zones.
“The jet lag is real,” Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson told reporters Wednesday, via official transcript.
A darling of the NFL’s push to expand its international series, Jacksonville has plenty of experience making the trip across the Atlantic Ocean. But as any traveler will admit, two weeks overseas has a much greater effect on an individual’s body clock than one week.
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For a second straight season, the Jaguars also don’t have the luxury of a bye week to readjust to their typical schedule. Last season, Jacksonville returned from London to host the Las Vegas Raiders, came out flat and fell behind by 13, then woke up and mounted a furious second-half comeback, emerging with a 27-20 win.
They’ll aim to avoid such a slow start this weekend.
“I’m getting tired earlier in the day,” quarterback Trevor Lawrence said. “I’m waking up earlier, which isn’t a bad thing. I went to bed at like 9 o’clock last night, so it’s not the worst thing. But, yeah, I’m kind of getting adjusted still but feeling pretty good.”
Individual player opinions on international games vary. According to The Associated Press, receiver Christian Kirk admitted he’s “doing my best to get on a normal regimen,” while guard Tyler Shatley didn’t leave a glowing review.
This is the Jaguars’ reality, though, and just as they appear to be finding their footing offensively, they know they have an additional hurdle to clear this weekend.
The key: Don’t let the travel show in your play. Keep the positive momentum going.
“It’s definitely something that Doug mentioned to us, and it was a great point of not having that London hangover,” Kirk said, per The AP. “It’s important for us. It just goes back to us bringing that energy that we had and continuing that over here.”
The Colts have their own obstacles to navigate. Rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson is out for at least the next month due to a shoulder injury that landed him on injured reserve this week. Veteran Gardner Minshew — the Jaguars’ former starting quarterback — will take his place, setting up an opportunity for the Washington State product to exact some revenge on his prior employer.
Jacksonville will have to get plenty of rest to ensure it doesn’t happen. Fortunately, they have some experience with such a turnaround. They’re hoping to make it three straight wins — and achieve it without sleepwalking through the first half.
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