Written by Matthew Cannata | Twitter: @PhinManiacs
On the field, an NFL game in London is just like any other game. The football is the same size, the players are the same (although maybe a bit jet-lagged) and the plays have the same verbiage, routes and cadence. Behind the scenes though, it’s a completely different story and the planning that is involved takes months to prepare for and then put into action. For Joe Philbin and his coaching staff, that meant trying to figure out the best way to approach the practice week, the flight over and what they do when they got there.
“I think the real major thing was the way we decided how we were going to practice throughout the year. We really decided Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday were going to kind of be the heavy lifting days, for lack of a better phrase. So we wanted to get the game plan in, do it here, have our meetings here, have our lifting here, have our practice here where our guys are familiar, have the game plan in, so literally as we step on the plane, the game plan is in. We’ll tweak this, we’ll tweak that and maybe make a minor adjustment here or there, but they know what the game plan is so they can go to sleep on the plane, wake up, go to work tomorrow and it’s a normal Friday. We are timing it up as best we can that it’s a, quote, normal Friday for them as if they were still here. We’ll do just what we always do. Nothing is really changing [on Friday and Saturday].”
On the plane ride over, Philbin said that in addition to sleeping, the coaches and players will have plenty of film and game tape to watch due to the video guys getting everything ready for them.
“Our video people do a great job and we got all kind of cut ups and tape that we can watch. Our iPads loaded up, the game plans are on that. So certainly look at some of that and get some rest because when we land, we’ve got to get to work and go right back at it. You’ve got to fuel the fire a little bit.”
Of course, as I mentioned above, once the game starts on Sunday, it will be like any other NFL game and Cameron Wake can’t wait to get going.
“I’m always looking forward to game day. It doesn’t matter if it’s here, on the moon, wherever. It doesn’t matter. Sunday I get to play, and I always look forward to that. You’ve got to take all the guys that stand to your left and right, you’ve got to band together and you have to obviously fight whatever the opposition is, whether it’s the crowd, the weather, whatever it is. When you do that, it usually comes out as a good outcome.”
If you want to get an extremely detailed look at what has to be done when an NFL team plays in London, click here to read an account from a former employee of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It's really mind-boggling as to how much time and preparation goes into it and how little room there is for error.