INDIANAPOLIS – Shane Steichen’s overriding objective this week: Make it as normal a week as possible.
Good luck with that.
On Saturday, a charter flight whisked his Colts from Indy to Charlotte, N.C. for an NFL-level business meeting with the Carolina Panthers.
Roughly 90 minutes to Charlotte, whip up on the Panthers 27-13 Sunday, and return home that evening. Nothing to it.
The Colts’ upcoming business trip promises to be a bit more taxing: a flight to Frankfurt, Germany. After a walkthrough Wednesday and normal practice Thursday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, the team leaves late Thursday for its fifth experience in the NFL’s international series – Sunday against the New England Patriots at Frankfurt Stadium.
“Try to keep them on schedule as much as possible,’’ Steichen said Monday afternoon. “You’re over there, whatever, three days, and go try to win a football game. That’s it. Try to keep it as normal as possible.’’
Again, good luck with that.
Instead of the quick over-and-back junket to Charlotte, the Colts face an overnight flight of approximately 9 hours. There will be opportunities to mix pleasure with business, but no one will lose sight of the purpose of the trip.
“Strictly business,’’ tight end Kylen Granson said. “Maybe if there’s something you can see on the way, like, ‘Oh, look, there’s something over there.’ Maybe. For me, it’s a strict business trip. I save all my traveling and tourism for the offseason.”
In 2017, he was part of Rice’s football team that opened the season versus Stanford in the Sydney Cup in Australia. Down Under, the Owls were buried 62-7.
“Got absolutely smashed,’’ Granson said with a smile, “but it was a fun trip.’’
He’s also vacationed in the Bahamas.
“I wouldn’t call myself a world traveler,’’ he said. “Not yet.’’
Ditto, Jaylon Jones. The rookie cornerback lived in Japan when he was younger; his parents are Navy veterans.
“I’ve been overseas before,’’ Jones said, “but I have never been to Europe. I’m familiar with the travel and how long the plane ride can be.’’
Personal in-flight agendas will vary, but sleep should be high on everyone’s To Do list.
“Usually on the international planes, the bigger planes, they’ve got all that stuff you need: food, entertainment, movies, shows or whatever,’’ Jones said. “But definitely sleep is probably going to be the biggest thing to do. It’s going to be a long plane ride, so rest up.’’
The Colts began determining how best to handle their first overseas trip since meeting Jacksonville in London in 2016 as soon as they were informed in May by the NFL.
Also, Steichen and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley have experience with overseas games.
Steichen was quarterbacks coach with the Los Angeles Chargers in 2018 when they met Tennessee in London. Bradley was on that staff as well, and had four London experiences as Jacksonville’s head coach from 2013-16.
“There’s a lot of research,’’ Steichen said. “There are teams that go over earlier, some teams go over later. I feel like that majority of teams go on Thursday. I was part of a London trip back in (’18). We went over on a Thursday, took a red-eye, slept, got there. Tried to treat it like a normal day. Did our normal deal on Friday and then had our walkthrough on Saturday and then played the game.’’
The Chargers edged the Titans 20-19.
The first-ever game in Germany was last Sunday: Miami vs. Kansas City. They took contrasting approaches.
The Dolphins left for Germany on Monday. Players had their usual off day Tuesday to do whatever, and the rest of the practice week unfolded as if they were in South Florida.
Andy Reid took his Chiefs to Frankfurt Thursday night following a practice at the team complex.
Kansas City won 21-14.
Reid followed an identical game plan in 2015 when Kansas City and Detroit squared off in London. The Lions went early in the week.
The Chiefs rolled 45-10.
Make of that what you will.
Less than 24 hours after the Colts handled business in Charlotte, players had a meeting to discuss the trip to Germany. It included director of football operations Melainey Lowe, director of sports performance Rusty Jones, head of strength and conditioning Rich Howell and Tim Gutierrez, who’s with NFL security.
“They basically gave us a preemptive overview of security that’s available, what Germany is like, what to expect, where we are going to be staying, what the travel is going to look like,’’ Granson said. “Even how to eat and sleep in preparation for the flight, how to eat and sleep on the flight. They pretty much detailed it out, pretty much all the way through. They’ve been very thorough. It’s obviously not my first rodeo. I’ve flown to Sydney and that was like a 23-hour flight. That’s fun. It’s definitely a little different, but once you’re there and you’re playing football again, it all just settles back in.’’
The Colts’ four previous International Series games:
*a 2016 regular-season meeting with the Jaguars in London.
*a 2010 preseason meeting with Buffalo in Toronto.
*a 2005 preseason meeting with Atlanta in Tokyo.
*a 2000 preseason meeting with Pittsburgh in Mexico City.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.