SUNBURY-ON-THAMES, England — Doug Pederson is trying to take a negative and make it a positive.
Most of the Eagles players don't want to be here.
They didn't want to deal with a London trip and long flights, arduous travel and just being away from home for five days.
So Pederson is selling them on making it a bonding trip.
The Eagles clearly need something, and Pederson is counting on his powers of persuasion to convince the players that being together far from home for a long weekend is just what this team needs to get out of a funk that’s seen it drop from 2-1 to 3-4.
I think this trip right here is a great time for us to be away as a football team. That’s obviously something we need, to be together like this for a couple days. The guys understand where they are, what they’ve done, what they’ve not done, and they’re saying and doing the right things at practice. The walkthrough we do on Tuesday, the practices on Wednesday and Thursday. There’s no pointing the finger, they’ve embraced everything. They know that they’ve let some games slip and they’re excited to get back on the field.
The Eagles practiced in Philly through Thursday before flying Thursday night into Friday morning to Heathrow Airport and arriving around sunrise.
After a brief stop at the team hotel, they bused to the Hazelwood rugby facility near Twickenham for a normal Friday practice.
Or at least as normal as is possible.
“I think the biggest thing is that we’re all together,” Pederson said before practice. “We’re not scattered out like if we were in Philly or back home.”
Pederson compared this trip to the week the team spent in Los Angeles last year following the Seattle loss. The Eagles beat the Rams despite losing Carson Wentz and didn’t lose again a meaningful game again.
“L.A. we were all together, here we’re all together and it’s just us, and so it kind of brings together you a little bit,” he said. “Last year, the postseason, our last game of the year, being away and how to prepare for that and travel and living at a hotel also prepares you for opportunities like this.
“Guys get to hang out if they decide to do something later today or tomorrow, and I think it’s important that they bond that way.
“They talk about being family, they talk about brotherhood and all that kind of stuff, and this is just evidence of that.”
Fascinating that Pederson called the Super Bowl “our last game of the year.”
He’s really serious about not talking about the Super Bowl, isn’t he?
In any case, Pederson wants his players to enjoy the experience here but really focus on what is a crucial game Sunday.
“Our guys have really done a nice job handling the travel and even this morning,” he said.
Pederson made the trip to London with the Chiefs when he was on Andy Reid’s staff, and he’s tried to emphasize to his players how to prepare physically in terms of staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, eating well and doing your best to stay on a normal schedule.
“Just understanding the logistics of it, how your body is going to feel today and how to prepare for it,” he said. “It’s one of those things where we knew this time was coming, we were excited for it, ready for it, and excited to play Sunday.”
The Eagles and Jaguars, both 3-4, meet at 9:30 a.m. Sunday at Wembley Stadium in London.
The Jags have played here every year since 2013, so they know how all this works.
They lost to the 49ers in 2013 and the Cowboys in 2014 but have won here the last three years, beating the Bills, Colts and Ravens.
Considering everything, that could give Jacksonville an edge.
“They’re familiar with the city, they’re familiar with the travel aspect of it, they’ve got it down,” Pederson said.
“But at the same time, I’ve been over here, we’ve had other coaches and players over here. It can be a little bit of an advantage, but both teams are in the same situation today, feeling the same things.”
And desperately needing a win.
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