When it comes to these international trips, there are two schools of thought. Either you rip the band aid off, fly in, keep keep your bodily clock the same, play the game and fly out or you go over early and spend a week acclimating to the time change. Last year the Raiders tried the former and played a terrible game. This year they’re trying the latter, hoping for better results.
“I learned a valuable lesson that we need a little bit more time to get acclimated,” said Gruden. “It was my first time last year coming to London and playing football. I’m used to playing home games at home, so I made a mistake and I’m trying to correct it this year and hopefully it shows on the field.”
Last year may have been Gruden’s first time playing in London, but it wasn’t the Raiders’ first time. They came over in 2014 as well. That time they stayed the week and the results were pretty similar in a loss to the Dolphins. That was Carr’s rookie season, so he’s on his third trip to London, having been experienced both the week prep trip and the quick trip experiences.
“I definitely feel better, that’s for sure,” said Carr. “My body feels better, I know our team feels better. Having that day off when you first get here and then having another day off after that to rest and get right and eat, get your metabolism going back the right way and things like that. As a family man I hate it, if I’m going to be honest, but as a quarterback I love it. So, I think coming the whole week is a good move.”
Not only was that Carr’s fourth game as a pro, he was hurt in the game as well, so the first time wasn’t ideal for him either. The loss put the team at 0-4, Dennis Allen was fired as head coach immediately after, and the team would go on to lose six more after that under interim head coach Tony Sporano before getting their first win of the season.
Last year the Raiders arrived the Friday before and had to play a game less than two days removed from a 14-hour plane flight and their bodily clocks out of whack from the extreme time change.
Last year the Raiders loss to the Seahawks in London dropped them to 1-5 on the season and they would lose three more before getting their second win of the season and would finish 4-12.
One could argue the losses in London in the previous seasons had a lot more to do with the quality of the product on the field than any sort of bodily clock issues. But Gruden isn’t taking any chances. He’s tried one and it didn’t work, so he’s trying the other.
“We have a great trainer here, A.J Neibel and his staff, we have a great nutritionist, great trainers, Rod Martin’s been around a long time, so we just take their advice,” Gruden said of acclimating the team. “We came here and we tried to keep the players active until the early part of the evening. We did everything that we were advised to do. Last year when we came they did what I advised them to do and you see it didn’t work out. So, now we’re actually listening to people that know what they’re doing and hopefully it helps our performance.”
Gruden has been accused of being insane, but at least in some cases he doesn’t do the same thing over and over expecting different results.
The players seem to be happy about the week stay in London, which they are already saying has a training camp feel to it. Most importantly, they were allowed a couple days to get the bearings and get some rest, much more like a typical game week.
“The biggest thing is making sure you get on the proper sleep pattern,” said Tahir Whitehead. “At the end of the day you can’t beat sleep, that gives your body the opportunity to recharge. That was really the only thing I did.”
Again, it’s hard to say how much it will affect their game on Sunday, but it certainly can’t hurt. They will need to be at their best physically to match up with the Bears for a full 60 minutes.