It’ll be the question that Jaguars fans will ask up until kickoff of the game at Wembley Stadium against the Baltimore Ravens: Which team will show up? The one that thrashed the Texans or the one that was bullied by the Titans at home?
Ask the players and they think they’re closer to the team that played the first week in Houston.
“I think so,” said Jaguars defensive lineman Malik Jackson. “Being with this team, we’re that first team, and the team that played in the first half last week. That’s just what we have to work on, make sure we’re consistent.”
When comparing the two games, the Jaguars said it was pretty obvious what the difference was: When the plays were there against Houston, they made them. When they were there against the Titans, they didn’t.
“It was the case,” said linebacker Telvin Smith. “That’s the part we have to get right. Part of executing those plays, don’t let the game get away from us in the first 15 minutes or in the third period.”
Digging deeper into what happens when they don’t execute, Smith explained that one play in one drive can change the game.
“I don’t think people realize that one play on a drive can effect so many things down the line. The play calls, everything.”
“That’s pretty much football,” Jackson added. “I gotta do better on double-teams and pressure on the quarterback.” Breaking the game down on the field, the Ravens are considered the favorite based on 10 takeaways in their two season-opening wins. But it is their first trip to London, and the Jaguars familiarity with the trip and the routine should give them some edge.
“It’s my fourth year,” Smith explained. “It’s the routine, going to the same spot, seeing the same scenery, going to the same hotel those are things that help you prepare and get more locked in.”
Even the fans who show up at practice and at the team hotel give the trip a familiar feeling. Telvin said he looks forward to seeing some of the same faces in the crowd.
“The fans are more familiar. I’ve signed for some of the same fans I’ve seen for four years. I’m familiar with the area, the hotel it all helps.”
“People get excited when we come over here,” Jackson agreed. “It’s something special. Everything’s fun when you win.”
Against the Ravens the Jaguars will have to play well. There’s no backing into a win over Baltimore. And Smith, a vocal team leader, quickly put any thoughts that there’s some grumbling from one side of the ball or the other to rest.
“We all need each other,” he said. “Either side has to step up. You have to realize that you rely on the offense and the special teams as much as you do yourself. Everybody’s trying to get to a win and get to winning. It’s not hard to do with this group of guys, I’ll say that.”