It was a pretty large media contingent attending the Jaguars practice today at Allianz Park in London. Allianz Park is home to the Saracens Rugby Union Team of the Premier League in the UK. They’re the defending champions but since the Rugby World Cup is being contested here, they’ve moved the start of their season back. That’s why their “grounds” were available for the Jaguars as a practice field. They painted an American Football field on their rugby pitch and even put up goalposts to make their guests feel at home.
Traveling on Thursday night and into Friday puts an early, first 24-hour strain on the players, but as it happened last year, most of them had first class, lie flat seat on the flight over and tried to get some rest. Head Coach Gus Bradley encouraged them to get some sleep as soon as they left Jacksonville so they could take advantage of the eight-hour flight. That’s a good thought but both Sen’Derrick Marks and Dwayne Gratz told me they were “a little too tall” for the seats. “Once you get to six feet,” Gratz said, “those beds get little.” Marks and Paul Posluzsny said they “got a couple of hours” on the plane but weren’t worried. “I don’t need much sleep,” Sen’Derrick said at the team hotel. “It’ll be fine,” Paul mentioned as he headed to a meeting. Trying to sleep on the plane is one issue. Trying to do it starting at six in the evening can also be a challenge.
So far, Bradley is in favor of leaving later in the week. The Jaguars are still searching for a routine that might give them a true home field advantage when they play in London. “I like it,” Bradley said to the assembled media after practice. “I know when some guys have come over later they liked it.”
From the arrival at Heathrow, the team went straight to their hotel for meetings for about an hour. After lunch, they headed straight to practice.
“We practiced at 1:35 today on purpose,” Bradley explained. “It’s the same time as the game Sunday. It worked out great. We had them go through “performance stations” first to get their muscles firing again then we had our regular Friday walk-thru.”
Bradley, Blake Bortles and Julius Thomas met with the media after practice and talked about where the Jaguars are, right now, at 1-5
“It’s a stage and it’s the most challenging stage. One-possession games, we have to figure out how to win those games. It’s a results league.”
Even in the last three losses, Bortles thinks the Jaguars improved and learned something each week. I asked him if they needed to take a “Giant Step” to win those games.
“That’s the thing, I don’t think it’s a giant step at all,” he said with confidence. “We just have to eliminate the mistakes, play better, don’t have silly penalties and we’ll be alright.”
“People on the outside think there’s a big difference between teams,” Thomas said. “It’s not that many plays that are the difference in winning and losing. Each game in the NFL comes down to two or three plays. It’s my job on this team to make sure our young guys know that. One detail on one play can make the difference.”
Representatives from The Late Late Show with James Corden, Corden’s mom were at the press conference asking some random questions. Apparently they had cleared it beforehand with the Jaguars PR staff and the players. Corden is from close by, so his “Mum” asked if Blake needed a place to stay for the next five years to accommodate the contract extension Since James now lives in LA, she explained, his room is available. “Are you cooking?” Blake wanted to know. After hearing the answer he responded, “I’m in.” He was also asked to explain the game of American football to someone in the UK who doesn’t know anything about it. Blake played along and so did Julius, but when they were asked if they knew the show both answered, “I don’t.”
They won’t be up late tonight to watch it either.