“It is an old maxim of mine that when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
So wrote Arthur Conan Doyle, many times putting these words in to the mouth of his super sleuth, Sherlock Holmes.
So, now let us look to what won’t be the case.
Ever since Bill Parcells came on board, John Beck has had the most to lose. Coming off a terrible showing in his rookie season, Beck couldn’t have been shocked when the new director of everything Dolphins said that he would be drafting a quarterback.
Add to this the fact that the Dolphins had signed journeyman quarterback Josh McCown (with a promise of an open competition) on the first day of free agency and Beck’s fate was all but sealed.
The answer to the question of who will start Week One lies in Bill Parcells and John Beck, but in different ways.
Parcells is a football guy first and foremost. The team he had the most success with, the NY Giants, started off his tenure with a quarterback controversy. Bill benched Phil Simms for Scott Brunner, who had shown he could win games the previous year when Simms went out with a separated shoulder.
Simms had a good start that season, but after Simms went down with a separated shoulder, Brunner rallied the team and led them to a strong late-season run and into the second round of the playoffs. It took a lot of time before Simms would emerge as the leader.
There was a season-ending injury the following year. Week Six against the Eagles, Brunner struggled mightily and Simms got his shot. He nearly lost his thumb that game and was gone for the season. His play was up and down, but functional, before he finally emerged as the offense’s clear leader.
Simms always had the potential, and he finally fulfilled it, as the Giants became a dominant force for the last half of the decade.
Parcells is a man that has made remarks on a lot of subjects. One of them is potential, and I quote this remark often: “The definition of potential is that you haven’t done (blank) yet.”
Guess what the missing word is.
The Dolphins have three quarterbacks that have worn or wear the label of potential. Two still wear the look of a rookie and the third’s label is tattered and barely legible.
John Beck, the first of two second-round selections made by the Dolphins last year is still new in the league, and though he has shown an inability to play well, he hasn’t shown it for a period of time. He still has potential.
Chad Henne, this year’s rookie taken in the second round, comes with a substantial pedigree. College four-year starters have a tremendously better track record in the pros. Henne comes from a pro-style offense and has a substantial arm. Rookies, by definition, exemplify potential.
Josh McCown has lived with the label of potential throughout his seven-year career. McCown has prototypical size and is extremely athletic, at times lining up as a wide receiver in practice (Cardinals, Raiders).
He has had ample opportunities to display his abilities and at times has flashed—no not brilliance—competence. I don’t think there’s a Derek Anderson somewhere inside McCown.
Back to the art of deduction. I have said that Beck has the hardest road, and it is true. John Beck is a 27-year-old guy in his second year. He has shown nothing on the field so far. John is a hard worker however, and many credit him as being the hardest working member of the team. The facts though, are stacked against him.
Remember when I said the answer lies with Bill Parcells and John Beck? Here’s why.
Bill Parcells wants results and he wants to see them sooner rather than later. More than that though, he wants to oversee the reemergence of the Miami Dolphins as a competitive team. Parcells is man that relishes receiving praise, and John Beck was part of the pervious regime’s ideas. Strike one.
Camp opened with the general opinion being that the battle would be between Beck and McCown, with Chad Henne in the wings, awaiting his future. The party line shocked some people however, when it was announced that all three would have a shot at starting.
Bill Parcells cited Henne’s ability to start game one as a freshman in college, and even high school, as reason for his willingness to hand Henne the ball if he shows to be the best.
The skies then darkened for John Beck. Beck has to prove he should, not just can, be the Dolphins QB. He has to perform much better than Henne or McCown to warrant the job. If he is equal to McCown, or even just slightly better, then the future of Chad Henne comes into account.
If Henne shows ability too, then Beck will have to look like Marino to win the job. That ain’t happening.
In camp so far, all three have looked equal. This bodes very well for McCown and, particularly, Chad Henne. Henne is a rookie and has shown an incredible ability to grasp the offense and speed of the NFL. He just needs the game to slow down more and he could be the starter.
Beck however, continues to struggle with the speed of the game. McCown, well, Josh McCown has looked like himself.
Remember, I’m saying they’re performing equally, with ups and downs. The impossibility in this equation emerges more and more when Beck fails to stand out.
Early this week, Beck had shown improvement, but today, as I write this, Chad Henne has just finished throwing the best deep balls all camp long. Beck, I believe you are the impossible.
John Beck may get his shot this Saturday against Tampa Bay. In fact, I think he’ll get the call to start and will get to play the whole first quarter. He will have to show a lot to get the shot again.
What we have in the end is that Beck has the cards stacked against him, and that McCown never had a good hand to begin with. McCown is a good placeholder and backup all at once. He isn’t controversial. John Beck will be given a chance to either play like an all pro or not play at all.
It makes sense that McCown will start the season and Henne will continue to develop into the eventual starter, perhaps after a poor showing one afternoon by McCown. That afternoon however, tends to be every afternoon with McCown so far.
If Henne begins to ascend, even slightly, it will be hard for Sparano and Parcells not to play him.
None of this ends up in the category of impossible.
So that leaves us with the unlikely, the however improbable. With a seven-percent solution flowing in The Phinisher's veins he arrives at the conclusion that Chad Henne will start game one against the Jets. Considering what Henne has shown thus far, and hopefully continues to show, he may just get that chance in the real world too.
So, Watson, the answer, with a margin of error too large to list with good conscience, is that Chad Henne starts game one against the Jets. He is, in the end, what is left.
I think it fits. Lucky No. 7 is the 13th quarterback since No. 13 retired. This, of course, is subject to change if Dan decides to lace them up again.
Send me an email when I’m wrong.