This week is different than normal for the Indianapolis Colts, and that’s because on Sunday they’ll be playing in a different country. On Thursday night they will get on a plane to fly to London, where they will play the Jaguars on Sunday as part of the NFL’s International Series.
The Colts are excited about the opportunity, but they emphasizing that it’s a business trip. In other words, they won’t be spending their time doing much sightseeing.
“To be honest with you, I am excited about the opportunity, just like our players are, to go over there and play and all those kinds of things,” head coach Chuck Pagano said. “I think the offseason is probably the time and place to get excited about taking a trip across the pond and doing some sight-seeing. I don’t think this is the weekend to do it.”
It will be Pagano’s first time to London, and it will be wide receiver T.Y. Hilton’s first time out of the country. “I’m excited,” he said. “I know the plane ride is going to be pretty long. I’m pretty sure I’ll find something to do.”
The Colts do have some guys who have played in London before, including running back Frank Gore.
“When I went, we were there for a whole week,” Gore said. “We kind of got used to the time and everything. This is really going to be my first time going on a Thursday for a short period of time. We’re going over there for a reason, to play ball. Hopefully, we can get this win and make it two.”
Gore made clear his priority for this weekend: “I want to win.” When asked again what he’s going to do, he said, “I’m going to play ball. I’m just going to play ball. I’m trying to go get us a win. Jacksonville is a good team, a tough team. When you watch the film, they’ve got a bunch of young guys who play great football.”
Cornerback Darius Butler is another Colts player who has gone to London for a game before, as he played there as a rookie in 2009.
“It will be exciting to play in a different country,” he said. “I went and played my first year in the league and got a win so hopefully we get the same result this week. That’s ultimately the goal wherever it is, but it will be exciting for a lot of guys here and I’m looking forward to it.”
One of the biggest helps for the Colts in planning the logisitcs of the trip from their offensive line coach and assistant head coach, Joe Philbin. He was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins when they played a game in London, so he’s been able to help.
“Again, he has been one resource, and a great resource for us,” Pagano said. “He has been over there a couple times and knows the logistics, the trip and everything that goes with it. We have players that have been over there and played in this game before. We have other staff members that have been there and done that. We just put a plan together that we felt gave ourselves the best chance to win this football game. Travel-wise, practice-wise, staying as close to a similar routine as possible, that’s what we are doing.”
And, while Andrew Luck hasn’t played an NFL game in London, he’s very familiar with Europe. Furthermore, Chuck Pagano, Andrew Luck, and Dwayne Allen took a USO tour this past offseason, and Pagano pointed out yesterday that they traveled many more miles than the Colts will to London. Myself, Andrew, and Dwayne should be able to handle this trip okay,” Pagano said.
It will certainly be a different experience for the Colts, and because they choose to have their bye week later in the year they’ll have to return to Indy and play a game next week too. It’s a challenge, but it’s also a cool opportunity for the Colts. But one thing is clear: it’s a business trip, first and foremost, as the Colts try to notch their first division win of the season.