To the people of the United Kingdom, we sincerely apologize.
Your NFL fans have been waiting two long years for American football to return to London. You have stayed up late into the evening, sometimes early into the next morning, to watch Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Derrick Henry.
And now, when the NFL can finally return, we give you … this.
Last weekend’s game starred the Atlanta Falcons and New York Jets, teams that are already battling for draft position. The matchup of 1-3 teams lived down to its billing, a 27-20 victory by the Falcons that featured one interception, two fumbles, four field goals, five touchdowns and a paltry 230 yards of offense by the Jets.
It wasn’t quite as bad a showing for the Jets as owner Woody Johnson’s time as ambassador to the U.K. But the bar is low.
That game, however, is likely to look like a Super Bowl compared with this weekend’s offering.
The Miami Dolphins are 1-4 and fresh off a 45-17 blowout by Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They’ll get back Tua Tagovailoa, the fifth overall pick in the 2020 draft, but there’s no telling how sharp he’ll be after missing the past three weeks with fractured ribs.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, meanwhile, are 0-5 and threatening the NFL’s record for futility. With a 20-game losing streak, the Jags are only six losses shy of the expansion Bucs’ all-time low.
Any team that’s lost that many games, and been bad enough to “earn” the No. 1 draft pick, is going to have its struggles. But the Jaguars are a whole other level of ineptitude thanks to rookie coach Urban Meyer, who has shown week-in and week-out that success in college does not automatically transfer to the NFL.
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The Jaguars have lost four of their first five games by 10 points or more, and twice blown halftime leads. The defense is a mess. Meyer’s decisions have been questionable – and I’m not even talking about that fall break he gave himself.
For the second time in as many weeks Sunday, the Jaguars got stuffed on a fourth-and-1 because they didn’t go for a quarterback sneak. Meyer’s reasoning was that Trevor Lawrence wasn’t comfortable with it, though the rookie said he was.
Meyer has since said it’s because Jacksonville hasn’t practiced the play enough. Perhaps had he not wasted training camp reps on Gardner Minshew, they could have. But I digress.
Despite this clash of non-Titans, Sunday’s game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is likely to be a sellout, and tickets on StubHub on Thursday afternoon ranged from $115 for a seat in the rafters to more than $1,600 to sit just off the field. That’s either a reflection of a fan base so starved for the NFL they’ll watch anything, or one that, 15 years into the league’s British invasion, still has a relatively simple knowledge of the game.
To be fair, those of us who’ve been watching American football our entire lives can’t always be certain of what a catch is, so no judging here.
Or maybe Britons have seen so much bad football in London over the years – only 13 of the first 29 games were decided by a touchdown or less, and one of those was a tie – that they’ve accepted it for the eyesore that it is. Kind of like fans of the Detroit Lions.
Still, it’s not very nice to share our game with you and not show you what it’s like at its finest. We’ll at least promise you this: We won’t let the Jaguars leave Meyer behind.
Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NFL in London: Jaguars, Dolphins latest lowly teams to play in England
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