Jaguars vs. Miami: It's a Long Way from Brunell-Marino to Henne-Tannehill

Nate DunlevyGuest ColumnistDecember 14, 2012

Jags-Dolphins games used to be a lot more sexy.
Jags-Dolphins games used to be a lot more sexy.Vincent Laforet/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars aren't what they used to be.

As the two in-state rivals square off in Week 15 in Miami, their rare meeting serves as a reminder of just how far each franchise has fallen.

It's only the sixth matchup all time of two franchises located just over 300 miles apart. They've each won a pair of regular season contests, but it's their playoff meeting that marked the zenith of both teams over the last decade plus.

When the Jaguars crushed the Dolphins in the 1999 playoffs by a score of 62-7, they closed the Dan Marino era, not just for Miami, but for the entire NFL.

The win propelled the Jaguars to the AFC Championship Game.

It was as close to a Super Bowl as they would ever get.

Since that fateful day, the Jags have had just three winning seasons and made the playoffs just twice, winning a single game.

Before that, the Jaguars had four winning seasons in just five years, making the playoffs in all of them and winning three other games.

The post-Marino decline for the Dolphins was more gradual. They did make the playoffs the next two seasons and have posted six winning seasons since 1999. But still, they have only a single playoff win during the entire stretch.

This year the two teams are a combined 7-19 as they struggle to find the heirs apparent to Mark Brunell and Marino.

Jaguars starter Chad Henne represents that struggle. He was drafted by Miami in the second round as the possible answer to the question that has long plagued the franchise, but after four seasons, he's in Jacksonville, floundering with a passer rating under 80.

Finding a franchise quarterback isn't easy. The Dolphins are trying again with Ryan Tannehill after spending second-round picks on John Beck, Henne and Pat White (yeah, seriously) in three consecutive years.

Jacksonville has already shown indications of running out of patience with the play of Blaine Gabbert, also the third quarterback they've drafted since 1999.

When you miss at the quarterback position in the draft, late-season matchups don't occur in the playoffs, and they don't carry with them the right to play in championship games.

They only offer "auditions", "growth opportunities" and "much-needed experience".

If these two once-powerful franchises can find the next Marino, or even just the next Brunell, maybe the next time they meet there will be more on the line.