Colts trip to London? It’s all business
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – There is so much to do across the pond.
Visit Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament’s iconic clock tower, not the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback.
Or Westminister Abbey.
Or St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Or Buckingham Palace.
And certainly Wembley Stadium, the famed 84,000-seat arena that will host the Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday morning.
So much to see, but very little time to see it. In fact, any meaningful sightseeing tours must be postponed for a later visit.
“I’m excited about the opportunity, just like our players are, to go over there and play,’’ Chuck Pagano said Tuesday. “But I think the offseason is probably the time and place to get excited about taking a trip across the pond and do some sightseeing.
“I don’t think this is the weekend to do it.’’
The focus – the total focus – is building on last Sunday’s 26-22 victory over the San Diego Chargers. The Colts avoided what would have been a disastrous 0-3 start, but failing to follow up against the Jaguars would greatly diminish the bounce they achieved at the expense of the Chargers.
“It’s football,’’ insisted running back Frank Gore. “Hopefully we go there and handle our business.
“We’re going over there for one reason, to play ball.’’
Gore is one of six players who’ve experienced playing American football at Wembley. He rushed for 71 yards and two touchdowns in 2013 when the San Francisco 49ers blasted Jacksonville 42-10, and contributed 118 yards and one TD in ’10 when the 49ers handled Denver 24-16.
On those two occasions, San Francisco spent much of the week in London to allow the players to acclimate themselves to the time change and the environment.
“We were there for the whole week,’’ Gore said. “We kind of got used to the time.’’
Along with Gore, Pagano could tap into the experiences of five others who’ve played in London:
- Cornerback Antonio Cromartie, last year with the New York Jets and in ’08 with San Diego.
- Cornerback Darius Butler, with New England in ’09.
- Running back Jordan Todman, with Jacksonville in ’14 and ’13.
- Defensive end Kendall Langford, with St. Louis in ’12.
- Cornerback Darryl Morris, with the 49ers in ’13.
From Pagano’s staff, assistant head coach/offensive line coach Joe Philbin was Miami’s head coach when the Dolphins played in London the past two seasons. The most recent was forgettable. The day after the Dolphins were whipped by the Jets 27-14 and fell to 1-3, Philbin was fired.
The previous year, Philbin’s Dolphins sent Oakland to an 0-4 start in a 38-14 rout at Wembley Stadium, which led to the Raiders firing coach Dennis Allen.
But this is about football across the pond, and that long, long flight.
The air miles from Indianapolis to London are just shy of 4,000. The road trip marks the second-longest in team history. In 2005, the Colts traveled to Tokyo (6,469 miles) for a preseason game with the Atlanta Falcons.
Again, Todman is one of the voices of experience. He’s got a plan.
“I try to be a professional sleeper,’’ he said. “If you can get a window, that helps.
“Try to sleep as much as you can. If you’re up, watch some movies, listen to some music, play cards with the guys.’’
Cromartie plans on mixing business with a splash of pleasure. His wife, children, mom and brother are in Paris. They’ll hop a Paris-to-London train for a quick reunion Friday evening.
“This is their second time coming to London and I’ll make a little time,’’ Cromartie said, “but it’s all about business.
“It’s all about wins, trying to get wins.’’
Pagano has adjusted the team’s normal routine to account for the anything-but-normal road trip.
Players had Monday off rather than their normal Tuesday. Tuesday was heavy with meetings and involved a light workout. The Colts, according to Pagano, “will amp it up’’ Wednesday and Thursday.
The team is scheduled to depart for London at approximately 5:30 Thursday evening and arrive about 6:30 Friday morning. It’s roughly an eight-hour flight.
“Be at the hotel by 9 a.m. and get on a practice field,’’ Pagano said, adding the team hotel offers a “great field right out back . . . weight room, training room is all right there.
“The theme is to keep the main thing the main thing . . . keep things as normal as possible from a preparation standpoint, a practice standpoint.’’