NFL Player Spotlight: Chad Henne of the Miami Dolphins

Roy DanielContributor IOctober 2, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 14:  Chad Henne #7 of the Miami Dolphins looks to pass during the game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on September 14, 2008 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Each week, I will spotlight a specific player either on offense or defense.  While it is great to follow or be a fan of a specific team, it is also important to know a little history about those players that are part of OUR team. 

I felt that it would be appropriate to spotlight Chad Henne as he seems to be the starter for the immediate future.  Without further ado, let’s learn a little bit about the Dolphins' new starting quarterback, Chad Henne.

Chad Steven Henne was born in West Lawn, Pennsylvania on Jul. 2nd, 1985.  Henne attended Wilson High School where he set school records for passing yards and touchdowns. 

As a junior, he threw for over 2,200 yards, 23 touchdowns, and rushed for over 600 yards and five touchdowns. As a senior, Henne completed 60 percent of his passes for 1,700 yards, 19 touchdowns, and only five interceptions.  Henne was rated as the No. 4 quarterback in the nation and committed to the University of Michigan.  

Henne began his Michigan football career starting at quarterback as a true freshman in 2004, the first Wolverine to do so since Rick Leach in 1975.  Henne definitely got off on the right foot as his core of receivers consisted of Braylon Edwards, Jason Avant, and Steve Breaston. 

After the conclusion of the 2004 season, which would be his best while at Michigan, he passed for 2,743 yards, 25 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, and a completion percentage of 60.2 percent.  He also tied the Michigan season record for touchdown passes with 25, first set by Elvis Grbac in 1991.

As a sophomore, Henne improved his touchdown/interception ratio, but was criticized for their 3-3 start after being ranked in the top five of the preseason polls. 

Just when he thought things could not get any worse, he had a poor performance in a close loss to Notre Dame, in which he completed fewer than half of his pass attempts and lost a fumble on the goal line.

After their 3-3 start, Michigan won four consecutive games, but the year ended with losses to archrival Ohio State and to Nebraska in the Alamo Bowl.

Henne’s fortunes turned during his junior season as he passed for 2,508 yards, 22 touchdowns, and eight interceptions as he led the Wolverines to an 11-0 start and a No. 2 ranking.  As Michigan tends to do, they concluded their season by losing to Ohio State and then losing to USC 32 to 18 in the Rose Bowl.

During his final season at Michigan and his most important for a potential quarterback in the NFL, Henne had his worst season of his college career.  He passed for 1,938 yards, 17 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. 

To make matters worse, he suffered a knee injury in the second game of the season against Oregon.  He would miss the following two games, but would return to play against Northwestern. 

Henne and the Wolverines redeemed themselves as they beat Florida 41 to 35 in the Capital One Bowl.  Henne ended his collegiate career as the only Michigan quarterback to ever go 0-4 versus Ohio State.

After his up and down senior season, Henne’s draft stock dropped and he was drafted in the second round and 57th overall.  Over two seasons while filling in for Chad Pennington, he has completed 17/31 passes for 159 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. 

We have been told all along that Henne will be groomed for the starting quarterback position for the 2010 season.  Now that Chad Pennington is out with season ending surgery, Henne will get his chance earlier than expected. 

Based on what I have seen over the years while at Michigan and in Miami, Henne has the potential to be a solid quarterback in the NFL.  While everyone is basing their opinion on two sub-par games that Henne played in relief, there are a few things that you have to think about. 

Last season, Henne played in his first NFL game in relief against a Cardinals defense who were in the top 10 against the pass at the time of this game.  In addition, when Henne came into the game in the fourth quarter, the game was out of reach as the Cardinals led 31 to 3. 

Last week, he filled in for an injured Pennington against a Chargers pass defense that gives up 179 yards per game. 

While he will not have the success of Drew Brees or play as badly as JaMarcus Russell, he is better than what people are giving him credit for.  He just has not had the opportunity. 

Whether he likes it or not, he now has the opportunity that he has been waiting for.  Can he handle the job or will he be replaced by newly acquired Tyler Thigpen?  Only time will tell, but I think that he will finish the season as the starter and will get better with each game. 

The mistake that the Dolphins need to avoid is benching him in favor of another quarterback.  They need to let him run the offense for the rest of the season and see what the young man can do; they might be surprised. 

Stay tuned, as I will spotlight a player next week on the defensive side of the ball.