Philadelphia Eagles fans could be ultimate game changer in London

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 06: A general view of fans before the game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on September 6, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 06: A general view of fans before the game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on September 6, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

There are many factors and storylines surrounding the Philadelphia Eagles trip to London to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars, but one in particular will be the ultimate game changer come kickoff on Sunday.

Monotone, caliginous dreary skies with nippy autumn winds that pierce through windbreakers and raincoats worn to protect from the inevitable precipitation. This is the London climate in October, where summer comes to a screeching halt and the gloomy transition into the dreaded cold, rainy winter season takes over.

A similar aura looms over Philadelphia Eagles camp entering this Sunday’s matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The birds are staring down the barrel of a loaded shotgun after last weekend’s historic collapse at Lincoln Financial Field at the hands of Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.

Some fans and critics are beyond the panic button, having already pulled the trigger on a season that has hardly begun, considering we haven’t yet reached the halfway point. Not to mention, the back half of the season includes five matchups against divisional foes in an incredibly weak NFC East that is more than up for grabs.

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The season thus far has been undoubtedly disappointing for the reigning Super Bowl champions and the cards appear to be stacked against them. Their blown 17-0 lead entering the fourth quarter in Philly last weekend was their second catastrophic meltdown of sorts in four games.

Philadelphia lacks a sufficient ground attack, frequently endures lethal blunders in their ill-equipped secondary and have been plagued by the injury bug yet again. The laundry list of names included in the weekly injury report gained an additional member as starting defensive end Derek Barnett was placed on injured reserve after having surgery on his shoulder.

Take all of this juicy goodness and pile on top the fact that the preparation for this week’s contest was altered and cut short by the fact that it takes place across the pond in London. The Eagles flew out Thursday evening, two days before they normally would for a road game, and jumped right into practice to adjust to the time zone difference at 2:30 PM local time which is 9:30 AM in Philadelphia.

Players were lucky if they had one hour of shut eye on the flight. Upon landing, the players state of mind as they threw on the pads to practice varied from “like a zombie” to “delirious” and as if the whole team were “sleepwalking.” Exactly what you’re looking for following a week of scrutiny from the media amidst their failure to remain focused in practice.

The fact that this is the first appearance by the Eagles in a NFL International Series competition doesn’t ease the concern. Since the series inception in 2007, 15 first time travelers were met with London defeat. Of those teams, only one team finished over .500 (2007 Baltimore Ravens), only one team made the playoffs (2008 San Diego Chargers) and six teams finished with four or less victories on the season. It seems the game in London is strategically placed in the make-or-break section of the season and it breaks more often than it makes.

The icing on top of the cake comes in the form of the Jacksonville Jaguars extensive experience playing all those games overseas in previous seasons. They’ve travelled to London five years in a row, the most out of any team in the league. While their first two trips ended in blowout fashion, the Jags formed a yearly routine and settled into the London experience winning their next three contests capped off with a 44-7 blowout of the Baltimore Ravens.

Though their offense has struggled, the Eagles often torched secondary is the prime target for quarterback Blake Bortles to regain his confidence against. The addition of running back Carlos Hyde, who will play in his first game as a Jag after being acquired in a trade from the Cleveland Browns, gives Jacksonville a dual back threat along with T.J. Yeldon to ease the pressure for Bortles.

So it seems as if the Eagles are doomed. They’re on the outs and Jacksonville is set to deliver the final blow in the Eagles’ first trip to London, a perfect storm for failure, right? Or could there be a secret weapon for the Eagles, a game changer in a form that only Philadelphia could deliver?


The Philadelphia faithful will, without a doubt, be the difference maker come 9:30 AM Philly time tomorrow.

“You’re crazy Pete. the fans couldn’t make a difference in Philly last week, why should they be able to in London?” Just hear me out.

It is a literal Eagle takeover in London on the hands of Philadelphians and Europeans alike. Stubhub reported that 41 percent of all purchases for Sunday’s matchup at Wembley Stadium came from Philadelphia. Top that with the abundance of european Eagles fans and there’s hardly room for the Jags to breathe.

Fans flocked to a Philly themed bar dubbed “Passyunk Avenue” and it’s been Eagle madness all week. The bar, which serves Philadelphia cuisine including  a cheesesteak that, once you bite into, leaves you feeling as if you’ve hopped off the Broad Street line and stopped in for a quick bite before heading to City Hall.

Former Eagle Hollis Thomas, who has been a correspondent for 94.1 WIP, gave the bar his stamp of approval on the show earlier this week, and recent retirees Brent Celek and Jon Dorenbos made an appearance along with the Lombardi Trophy.

WIP’s Angelo Cataldi put it best when he made a statement along the line of “Only Philadelphians would spend hundreds of dollars and travel thousands of miles to London, only to inhabit a Philly themed bar, eat Philly themed food and cheer on the Philadelphia Eagles.”

Philly fans aren’t so closed minded that they wouldn’t experience the European culture though. A group of passionate folks who bleed green traveled to Paris, carrying several Eagles flags to the top of the Eiffel tower.

It’s not only Philadelphians. Individuals from all over Europe travelled to London to hang with at the official Eagles party at London bar Admiralty London. Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro posed a question to several fans sporting British accents asking where they were during Super Bowl 52.

One young man, wearing a sweatshirt with Eagles legend Brian Dawkins in his patented prowling squat purchased tickets to the game, and traveled across the pond to sit on the very goal line where he witnessed the infamous “Philly Special”.

Another couple, one man rocking a black Eagles hoodie while his wife wore the all too recognizable No. 5 Donovan McNabb home jersey, also travelled to the states, but to the heart of Philadelphia, because they “wanted to be in Philly” when the birds finally reached the bowl. The man held up a midnight green flag with a white British flag design in the background that read “Fly eagles fly, Nottingham, UK” in a circular pattern around around the Eagles logo in the center. He looked at the camera and acknowledged “this graced Philly.”

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With London currently serving as the hub of Philadelphia, the all too familiar Jaguars should be greatly concerned. When closely analyzing the “London experience” which Jacksonville possesses, you find cracks in the foundation. For starters, those first two contests were nowhere near close.

Even less impressive is that their first two wins in the UK came on the hands of mediocre opponents who finished the season at .500 and failed to make the playoffs (2015 Bills, 2016 Colts), and they won both games by a mere field goal margin. Last year’s 44-7 blowout of the Ravens can be attributed to a magical season in which the team reached the AFC Championship and were simply that good.

But the Jags are far from the Cinderella story that nearly took down the almighty New England Patriots in that very AFC Championship. They’ve lost three in a row and allowed 90 points over that time period. Bortles was benched and the defense is aching. As bad as things are for the Eagles, it may just be worse for a Jacksonville team quickly snapping back to reality.

So a trip to London may be exactly what the Eagles need to clean the palettes, start fresh and regain focus. The collapse against the Panthers and the resulting scrutiny may have been the wakeup call this team needed to get their tails moving, and the Jags may be the first of many teams to face the wrath of the hungry dogs with a reborn craving for breakfast.