For the third time in six years the Raiders will be headed to London for one of their regular season games. This time they play the Chicago Bears at Tottenham Hostpur Stadium. It’s also the second time in two seasons under head coach Jon Gruden they’ve played in London. The first time didn’t go so well.
With these international games, you have two choices — to acclimate or not to acclimate.
This goes for the game in Mexico City as well. You may recall when the Raiders faced the Patriots in Mexico City in 2017, the Patriots decided to play the Broncos at Mile High the week before to attempt to acclimate to the extreme Mexico City elevation, while the Raiders chose to fly in a and fly out quickly so the thin air didn’t affect them as much. The Raiders lost the game, but probably more because the Patriots were a better team than any acclimation issues. There are schools of thought for both.
That quick in and out schedule was what the Raiders did in London last year. Then they went out and played flat against the Seahawks, losing 27-3. Cornerback Daryl Worley recalls how difficult it was to make the long flight the day before a game.
“I feel like the short turnaround last year might have took a toll on some guys bodies compared to being able to have a lot more time to unwind,” said Worley. “Not so much of being a tourist, but just having that body to be able to be fully adjusted going into a game on Sunday.”
Gruden listened to his players on this one. So, he had the Raiders scheduled to play in Indianapolis the week before and will leave immediately afterward to make for a shorter flight, easier time change, and longer recovery from the flight before the game.
“I probably won’t do what I did last year,” said Gruden. “You try to research it, some people go and try to stay the least amount of time as possible because they want to put the preparation in at home and not be in a foreign country, in a different bed for five or six nights, but this year I think we will probably go over after that game (at Indianapolis Colts) and get acclimated to the time zone and get ready for Chicago, but will address that here in the next couple months.”
You might also recall this is what the Raiders did with their first trip to London. They played in New England and left straight from there to old England. They played the Dolphins and the result wasn’t much better. They lost 38-14 to the Dolphins. Though, to be fair, that was the fourth loss for a team featuring rookie QB Derek Carr who got injured, the team fired Dennis Allen the day after the game, and would go 0-10 before getting their first win.
Not sure there’s much proof one way or the other which plan works better. But Gruden has tried one, so he’s now going to try the other.