Did Jacksonville Jaguars benefit from London residency?

By Bucky Brooks, NFL.com Analyst

After registering back-to-back wins on foreign soil, the Jacksonville Jaguars might have uncovered an unconventional advantage that could help them emerge as perennial contenders.

After a 1-2 start to the season, Jacksonville took off for London, set to become the first team ever to play consecutive games across the pond. Ten days later, the Jaguars had jumped back over .500 with wins over the Falcons and Bills. Basically an in-season training camp, this extended London venture enabled Doug Pederson’s team to develop the chemistry and camaraderie that is essential to playing championship-caliber football in an ultra-competitive league.

As the Jaguars’ field analyst on radio broadcasts, I had a front-row seat to the team’s early-season struggles. The communication issues, coverage busts and inconsistent gap integrity that plagued the defense over the first three weeks disappeared in London. Offensively, the improved chemistry between the offensive line, as well as the quarterback and pass catchers, resulted in a more efficient performance from a unit that was expected to light up scoreboards around the league entering the season. With the special teams also operating like a well-oiled machine, the countless hours spent together overseas appeared to produce a more connected team that played like a family instead of a collection of individuals.

“It was good to get out of Jacksonville at that time,” Pederson said, via USA Today. “We needed to bond a little bit as a football team, and we’ve done that. And now we get to go back with two wins, and we’ve got a big AFC South matchup next week.”

While some will scoff at the notion of a professional team truly forming a brotherhood that embraces the values of commitment, accountability and trust, Pederson absolutely believes the time spent together has helped the Jaguars’ improve their on-field performance.

“The fact that we got to spend time in the hotel together, players went to dinner together, they just hung around and played some golf together,” Pederson said. “When you’re in the heat of the battle out there and of course in the game, you lean on each other that way, and we were able to do that for those 10 days. I think the guys really embraced that, and now it’s a matter of coming back here, continuing that same sort of mindset as we prepare for this week and for the first half of our season.”

After posting back-to-back wins against a pair of playoff contenders in impressive fashion, several players cited the improved chemistry and connection from the 10-day retreat as a contributing factor. The dinners, golf outings and video gaming with teammates led to stronger relationships and enabled players to establish trust with each other. With the getaway also removing some of the day-to-day distractions that can disrupt the team-building process, the London trip allowed Pederson to re-create the old-school training camp environment from yesteryear.

And if the positive results continue — beginning Sunday against the Colts — don’t be surprised if the Jaguars look to experience a foreign fortnight in future seasons.

The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The NFL is one of the four major