Maybe the Jacksonville Jaguars can jump-start their lackluster offense overseas.
Jacksonville (1-2) will play a “home game” against Atlanta (2-1) at Wembley Stadium on Sunday and then move across town and play as the visitor against Buffalo at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The Falcons-Jaguars matchup is the first of five international NFL games in 2023 and the first of three in London.
Given how poorly the Jags performed at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville the last two weeks, they’re eager to get away and possibly find better results roughly 4,300 miles (6,900 kilometers) from home.
“It’s a chance for us to reset a little bit and regroup to try to get back on track,” Jaguars coach Doug Pederson said. “We’re doing everything together as one of those bonding types of experiences as a football team and as coaches.”
Jacksonville’s offense definitely needs help connecting. The unit has been mostly a mess since the Jaguars rallied to beat Indianapolis in their opener.
The Jaguars allowed four sacks against the Chiefs, fumbled three times and finished 4 of 14 on third and fourth downs. They were equally sloppy against the winless Texans, with Calvin Ridley dropping two touchdown passes, Trevor Lawrence throwing an interception and Jamal Agnew fumbling.
“There’s no sense of panic,” Lawrence said. “I wouldn’t say guys aren’t concerned because that’s not the right word. But we care a lot about what we do so there is some concern when you don’t play well and you put a lot of work in.”
The Falcons should be concerned after last week’s road trip. They managed 183 yards, including 44 rushing, and second-year quarterback Desmond Ridder was sacked seven times in a 20-6 loss to Detroit.
“It’s your job and intent to score every time you get it,” Atlanta coach Arthur Smith said. “So if something’s not working, you have to continue to look for solutions and things you can do better.”
The Jaguars have played a home game in London every year since 2013 (except during the pandemic-affected 2020 season). They are 4-5 overseas, with eight of those coming at Wembley.
But this will be the first time an NFL team plays consecutive games overseas and should provide data for the potential for it to happen more often as the league continues to expand its international footprint.
Jacksonville is in the middle of a three-year contract to play annually at Wembley. The deal gives the small-market franchise exclusivity at one of London’s most historic sporting venues.
Jacksonville has full control of the home game — it's in charge of ticketing, merchandise sales and game-day management — and it yields increased revenue. The Jaguars credit more than 11% of their local revenue to playing abroad.
Falcons running back/receiver/kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson, who scored nine touchdowns last season, is close to making his season debut. It could come in London.
Falcons veteran defensive lineman Calais Campbell, a six-time Pro Bowler and the 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year, is still looking for his first win against a former team.
Campbell is 0-1 against Arizona, where he spent the first nine years (2008-16) of his NFL career. He’s also 0-1 against Jacksonville, where he spent the next three seasons (2017-19). He played the last three seasons for Baltimore before signing with Atlanta.
The Cardinals beat Campbell and the Jaguars 27-24 in 2017. The Jaguars beat Campbell and the Ravens 28-27 last year.
MAKING THE TRIP
The Jaguars received special permission to bring suspended left tackle Cam Robinson to London with the team. Robinson was suspended for the first four games of the season for violating NFL policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Robinson took a banned substance while rehabbing from a knee injury.
He is scheduled to be activated next week, but with the Jaguars in London this week, he was allowed to travel while still suspended. He has not practiced with the team since the preseason ended.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl
Mark Long, The Associated Press