Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Rivalry Waiting To Develop


BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

There are different rivalries on I-95 since the Interstate extends from Florida all the way to Maine.

These rivalries have long histories in all sports.

But one match-up is very intriguing in the State of Florida.

It involves two cities which are five hours apart and have hosted Super Bowl Games.

It involves two of the most veteran and personable Public Relations staffs in the NFL. It would be hard to find a pair of nicer guys than Harvey Greene of the Miami Dolphins and Dan Edwards of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Although these two guys won't be issuing post-season credentials for the upcoming playoffs, they'll have plenty to do during the off-season as each of their rosters figure to have plenty of new faces.

Going into their Dec 16, 2012 contest, these teams had met only five times. Jacksonville led the series 3-2.

The most meaningful game occurred on January 15, 2000 as Dolphins Hall of Fame QB Dan Marino played his last game in Jacksonville.

The Jaguars crushed Miami 62-7 and sent Marino into retirement Ringless after the Devastation of this Playoff Game. Dolphins Coach Jimmy Johnson returned to Fox Sports as an analyst for the pre-game show where he's been since.

On this Dec 16, 2012 day, the Dolphins honored former Defensive Coordinator Bill Arnsparger by putting him into their Ring of Honor. They also celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the 1972 Undefeated 17-0 Team.

As for the game, Miami was mathematically alive for the playoffs. The Dolphins have a bright young QB in rookie Ryan Tannehill, who faced last year's Miami starter Chad Henne.

Miami would win this game as Tannehill was 22-28-220 yards and two touchdowns. He had a QB rating of 123.2. Meanwhile, Henne's return trip to Joe Robbie Stadium saw him go 18-34-221 yards in a 24-3 loss evening the all-time series at 3-3.

Time of possession was the story of this game as Miami dominated 35:38-24:22.

Henne downplayed his return to South Florida and said it didn't affect his play.

"It was a fun experience but obviously you want to come out with a win," Henne said. "I thought our guys fought hard and they played well on the other side of the ball. Their offense moved the ball and our third quarter was the biggest problem. Overall, it was a good atmosphere.

"My attitude right now is to prove to the Jaguars that I'm going to do the best I can to help this team win."

Jaguars Coach Mike Mularkey said he has the utmost respect for Henne.

"He is as much of a competitor that I've ever been around," Mularkey said. "He's scrappy and fights his tail off to give us a chance. We knew we were going to have a fight up front with our line and their defensive line.  For the most part, we held up as well as we could. There was pressure in front.

"We had chances to make plays. We didn't. We had some drops and a number of drives were stalled."

The Jaguars currently stand at 2-13 and have set a franchise record for most losses. Although Miami is now out of the playoff hunt, the Dolphins have a 7-8 mark, but are on the right track.

A crowd of 53,667 showed up for this Florida match-up and paid tribute to the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.

During the past few days, there is news that Jaguars Owner Shahid Khan wants former Florida Gators Heisman Trophy Winning QB Tim Tebow.

It appears as though Tebow could be returning home in 2013 since he said he wants out of New York after being surpassed by Greg McElroy as the new Jets starting QB.

If Tebow returns to Jacksonville, it's obvious he'll put fans in the stands, generate merchandise revenue and add energy to a franchise which desperately needs it.

The Pakistani-born American Billionaire Businessman Khan knows the value of his franchise will increase. In addition to the fact that the Jaguars will be playing future home games in London, England., this figures to generate an International Fan Base for the Jaguars.

I have a feeling that my good friend Edwards will have less free time on his hands when the "Tebow Circus" comes to town.

Meanwhile, between Tebow and the high pick Jacksonville will receive in 2013 NFL Draft, perhaps things will look brighter for the franchise in North Florida.

It would be great to see this rivalry become what it can become. All it needs is some star power, wins, playoff appearances in a state that has won only three Super Bowls, but has hosted many.

There is no reason that crowds of 70,000 shouldn't become common.

I have covered sporting events in many towns that have only one team and the atmospheres have been passionate, rabid and enjoyable.

There is no reason that Jacksonville can't follow suit, just as Miami did in the 1970's and 1980's playing at the Orange Bowl then moving to Joe Robbie Stadium.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com.


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