Pederson walks back comments suggesting Jaguars could play consecutive games in London annually


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars adjusted well to spending nearly two weeks in London. They handled the long flight, the jet lag, the lengthy hotel stays, the unusual practice venues and the extended separation from friends, family members and their normal routine.

Winning both games surely made it more palatable.

The highly successful trip also may have set the stage for the small-market franchise to play more back-to-back games overseas. Coach Doug Pederson raised eyebrows following a 25-20 victory against Buffalo at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday by saying: “I think it’s relatively safe to say that we’ll probably each year play two games over here.”

Pederson quickly added: “I don’t know that. I don’t have a crystal ball.”

He walked it back even further Monday.

“That is not confirmed one way or another,” Pederson said. “It was just asked if I would consider playing two games back-to-back in London. We did have a great experience over there. I would recommend it for all 31 teams to have the pleasure of spending two weeks in London.

“At this point, there are no confirmations on us doing this anytime soon.”

The Jaguars (3-2) have one additional piece to wade through before fully gauging their London experience. They host AFC South rival Indianapolis (3-2) on Sunday, with Pederson planning to build in extra rest for his players as they recover from another round of jet lag.

Jacksonville Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence (16) during game against Buffalo Bills at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in London, Oct. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Ian Walton)

Jacksonville could have taken a bye after the extended overseas trip, but Pederson wanted the off week closer to the middle of the season. So the Jags asked for a home game and ended up with arguably the best scenario possible: a division team they know well and already have beaten this season.

Regardless, facing the Colts should provide the league with more data about the potential of having a team or multiple teams based in Europe.

“Is it a competitive disadvantage or advantage one way or the other,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said last week. “How do they react to being away from their facilities for that long? How do the fans respond to it? We have three games here in London in three straight weeks, three consecutive weeks.

“We’ll learn something from that that will help us determine: Can we play more games? Could a team actually play over here? Could it deal with the competitive issues of being here for a period of time, including the visiting team? … This will help us understand the challenges that we might have and what we could do to address that.”

Although the Jaguars are still looking to score on an opening drive, they are starting games faster. They have scored first in each of their three wins and have 25 first-quarter points in those outings.

The Jaguars scored just 69 first-quarter points during the 2022 regular season.

Trevor Lawrence has been sacked 13 times in five games and is on pace to shatter his career high of 32 in 2021. It’s not the protection Jacksonville wants for its franchise quarterback.

Lawrence was sacked five times Sunday and twisted on several of those. Jacksonville had hoped left tackle Cam Robinson’s return from a four-game suspension would solidify Lawrence’s offensive line. But guard Walker Little injured his left knee in the first quarter, forcing the Jags to shuffle again.

Jacksonville Jaguars HC Doug Pederson speaks at press conference in Hertfordshire, England ahead of game against Buffalo Bills, Oct. 6. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Travis Etienne ran 26 times for 136 yards and two touchdowns, including a 35-yard scamper with a little more than a minute remaining that pretty much sealed the victory. Etienne had 111 yards rushing in the second half.

“When the games get close late in the games, you want your run game to be the closer, be the finisher, and we were able to do that,” said Etienne, whose best NFL performance (156 yards rushing) came in a loss to Denver last year at Wembley Stadium.

Jacksonville’s offensive line appears average at best, even when fully healthy. The unit is definitely better than 31st — a prominent website ranked the Jags there in pass blocking going into the season — but it has issues across the board and needs to find ways to reduce sacks and create more running room between the tackles.

Robinson hyperextended his left elbow but should be fine to practice this week. Receiver Zay Jones and Little underwent further tests Monday to determine the extent of their knee injuries.

8 — Number of consecutive home games the Jaguars have won against Indianapolis. The streak began following a 44-17 drubbing in 2014 and includes a victory in London.

Get a win against an ex-Jaguars quarterback. Gardner Minshew, filling in for injured rookie Anthony Richardson, will try to join Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert as guys who left Jacksonville and later helped beat their former team.

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