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Jets already calling audibles on London trip

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — London is calling the New York Jets. The task for head coach Todd Bowles is to make sure the Jets answer.

The Jets play the franchise’s first regular-season game outside North America on Sunday, when they visit the Miami Dolphins at London’s Wembley Stadium. Much of Bowles’ first eight-plus months as an NFL head coach was spent getting ready for the trip in hopes of making the overseas trek as normal as possible for the Jets.

“You have to prepare for these things a lot in the spring,” Bowles said.

When Bowles began studying the trip, he expected the Jets would leave for London no later than the Wednesday before the game. But he realized that would have shortened the preparation at Florham Park while hampering the Jets once they returned.

“If it was a preseason game, yes, you can go over (early),” Bowles said. “But in the middle of the season, that’s kind of hard. You really get caught back on the time change and you come back and you lose a little bit, even if you do get the bye.”

The Jets do in fact have their bye following this week, but Bowles decided not to leave for London until after Thursday’s practice, which means most of the game install will be done on these shores.

“We wanted to get a full day’s practice in here,” Bowles said. “One day and having to go there and set up and everything would have been hard to do on a Thursday. The two bulk days, Wednesday and Thursday, we wanted to get here.”

Bowles said he relied on an offseason conversation with St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher, whose team traveled to London to face the New England Patriots in 2012.

“Just talking about the setup and the meeting rooms and the outlets and those type of things,” Bowles said. “Getting ready to play, what you have, what you don’t have, how the grass is and what kind of cleats and those things, we went through. Most of it was technical stuff. He was real helpful that way, from a travel standpoint as well.”

Alas, all the advance work in the world can’t prepare a coach for everything: The Jets may end up coming back from London later than anticipated due to Hurricane Joaquin, which may soak the New York/New Jersey area on Sunday and/or Monday.

While Bowles could not predict the weather, he did his best to establish the Jets’ sleep patterns in London, which is five hours ahead of New York. The team brought in sleep consultants, who apparently did their job well: Rookie defensive end Leonard Williams said he fell asleep during one of the lectures.

According to the Jets’ website, the team will also encourage players to sleep on the flight to London, so that they are awake and ready to go when landing shortly after sunrise. The Jets have requested that cabin service end by 7:30 PM EST and that the lights be dimmed thereafter.

In addition, the Jets are asking players to get an hour’s exposure to natural light upon waking up Saturday and Sunday, to dim room lights at night and to wear eye masks upon going to sleep.

Of course, most people have decades-old sleep habits that can’t simply be changed during a two- or three-night span.

“No matter how you prepare for them, the sleeping and the sleep you get and the time you play is going to be a little different,” Bowles said. “I don’t think anybody is going to adjust full-time.”

Especially a coach used to late nights.

“You hope you get to it and to get to bed a little bit earlier,” Bowles said. “But say you’re going to go to bed 30 minutes early? I know I’m guilty of (not doing) it. You try to do as best you can.”

SERIES HISTORY: 99th regular season meeting, Jets lead series, 51-46-1. The Jets won the most recent game between the teams last Dec. 28, when the Rex Ryan/John Idzik regime went out with a 37-24 win at Sun Life Stadium. Jets quarterback Geno Smith threw for a career-high 358 yards and tied a career-high with three touchdown passes – including a 74-yarder to wide receiver Eric Decker, who also set a career high with 221 yards receiving. The Jets and Dolphins have split the season series in each of the last five years. The Dolphins won the only postseason game between the teams by beating the Jets 14-0 in the 1982 AFC Championship Game, better known as the “Mud Bowl.”

GAME PLAN

–To figure out how to beat the Dolphins, the Jets need look no further than their most recent ex-coach. Rex Ryan’s Buffalo Bills authored a blueprint last Sunday in a 41-14 rout at Sun Life Stadium. The Bills racked up 151 yards rushing even with franchise back LeSean McCoy (11 carries for 16 yards) spending most of the game on an exercise bike. That’s encouraging for the Jets, who expect to have lead back Chris Ivory (groin) fully healthy but can never predict when or if he’ll last a full game. Even quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick acknowledges the Jets can’t win when he throws 58 times like he did last week, so expect the Jets to pound the Dolphins – whether with Ivory or Bilal Powell – in hopes of opening up some opportunities for Fitzpatrick. The Bills’ game-managing quarterback, Tyrod Taylor, was 21-of-29 for 277 yards and three touchdowns.

A vaunted Jets run defense that sprung leaks last week against the Eagles should be ready for running back Lamar Miller, who has just 105 yards in the first three games. Shutting down Miller will greatly limit the Dolphins’ offense, since quarterback Ryan Tannehill can’t throw the deep ball. If Miller is neutralized, the Jets will be content to let Tannehill feed slot receiver Jarvis Landry for short, clock-eating gains that won’t make much of a dent on the scoreboard.


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