The Jacksonville Jaguars seem to have gotten the hang of doing a gig in London every year. When they beat the Baltimore Ravens 44-7 there last Sunday it marked the third time in as many years they’ve won their annual game at Wembley Stadium.
One thing the Jags don’t have the hang of: playing a game again the very next week.
Teams playing a game in London are usually afforded a bye week immediately thereafter to help them recover from the abnormally long road trip. The Jaguars, in fact, have had followed each of their previous trips to London with just such a break.
Not this time. The Jaguars will get right back at it this week with a game against the New York Jets – in New York.
Ok, you can insert your joke of choice regarding the opponent here. Before you go too far, though, remember that the Jets, who are supposedly tanking in an effort to get a better draft pick in the spring, beat the Dolphins last week. Instead of tanking, the Jets may be sandbagging.
But maybe that’s a good thing. The fact the Jets beat a team that maybe even more so than the Jaguars was expected to make a run to the playoffs before the season started this year means the Jaguars will have to take them seriously.
Now, we’re not suggesting that they wouldn’t have, but coming off a long weekend in London and a big victory, there might have been a tendency to let up just a bit going into a game against a team that seems more focused on 2018 than it is 2017.
That won’t – or maybe we should say can’t – be the case now. The difficulty remains, however. The Jaguars now have to come off that long weekend and get right back to work. Ever the NFL’s guinea pig it seems, it will be interesting to see how they handle this.
Keep in mind, the Jaguars didn’t get back to Jacksonville until 2 a.m. Monday, but because they have a game to play Sunday, coach Doug Marrone only pushed back the start time for their normal Monday weight-training and meeting schedule. He didn’t cancel it.
The players were then given their usual Tuesday off but it’s back to work today, and it will be an important day of work for them because this game against the Jets is one the Jaguars really can’t afford to lose if they want to keep pace with Titans in the AFC South.
This was one of those games that most figured as a win before the season started and it still should be. It only will be, though, if the Jaguars show up and play the kind of football they played in their opener against the Texans and last week in London against the Ravens.
With a clunker of an effort against the Titans in between. it’s still hard to know just who these Jaguars really are and what to expect from them week to week.
That said, if the Jaguars can overcome the unusual obstacle the schedule has thrown in front of them and win as they’re expected to on Sunday they’ll go a long way toward establishing themselves as not just a team that can overcome almost any adversity, but a legitimate playoff contender.