Welcome to Miami Dolphins fandom—a wonderful, terrible, beautiful, disgusting place where things are not always as they seem, do not always appear as advertised, and often make little sense.
While it's true that there are several interesting story lines playing out in Miami at present, one in particular strikes me most as a conundrum:
The question of the Chad's, Henne and Pennington, whom for the purposes of this article will henceforth be referred to as Henne and Penny.
Don't get me wrong, I understand why the Dolphins have to get behind Henne and name him as the unquestionable starter. He has my full support as well, especially after turning in a plus .500 record in his first thirteen starts for the Fins.
That being said, I would be remiss to deny that a good fan always questions the big decisions; whether their causes are out in the open or somewhat obscured, as is often the case with the Dolphins.
It's obvious that Henne did a fine job after being thrust into a leadership role, making his first career start in week 4 of 2009. There were hurdles to overcome along the way, many stemming from the team's loss of several key veteran presences. Still Henne persevered. He saved the Dolphins from a fate worse than 7-9.
We all know that Henne is going to be this ball club's bread and butter for years to come, but what about right now? What about Penny? Should his obvious expertise and leadership be foregone now that he's healthy, simply because the Dolphins do not want to disrupt Henne's development?
Some would call it a waste.
The fact of the matter is, the reasons for the current heading of the Fins' course are quite plain. I am just not altogether sure that I agree with them.
I am well aware of the pitfalls of having two quarterbacks share time, the best evidence of which being the fact that it seldom happens in this league, but this may actually be one instance in which a tag-team partnership could really pay dividends.
Bottom line, if Penny went this year without taking a snap, it would be a huge disappointment, and an even bigger mistake by the Trifecta. We have all seen the fallibility of the group, demonstrated by their grossly-misplaced trust in Pat White.
I am obligated to mention that if the decision were mine, Penny would be the one with the ball. He has shown in two preseason appearances that he is indeed back to healthy status, and, unless I am taking crazy pills, the more logical choice if Miami wants to hoist the Lombardi trophy this year.
Penny has the poise, the pocket-presence, the release, the touch, and most of all the experience. Not to mention leadership—has everyone already forgotten what he did in 2008?
Alas, Chad Henne will be given the reigns to start the season.
As I said, it makes sense in a lot of ways, but it does so for the long term, not for today. Today, anyone with this decision to make would have to consider the fact that as of this moment, Penny is the safer bet.
I am sure Henne is aware that while Penny is something of a mentor, he remains a player first, and any player given the chance is going to play for a starting job. He knows that his role as the Dolphins' clear starter could quickly become clouded with doubt and just as quickly be lost to a more qualified colleague.
Similar doubts should continue to enter the thoughts of Dolphins' fans, because with the start of the regular season less than two weeks away, these story lines that have been moving at a snail's pace over the offseason and preseason and are about to be kicked into overdrive.
If Henne goes out there and starts to tally losses, how many can the Dolphins afford to give him before sending him back to bullpen and calling out the experience?
In my opinion, he has until Miami's bye in Week 5 to prove that his thus far average performance with the Fins can be rapidly thrown into high gear. If he fails to outscore the Jets and the Patriots in Weeks 3 and 4, he should consider his reserved spot at the top of the depth chart in serious question.
At the end of the day, barring all long-term strategy, fans just want Miami's best players in starting roles. No unprejudiced person could argue that Henne is better than Penny, but he will have his shot to prove it nonetheless.
Looking at it from another point of view, it feels good to know that behind a greatly promising talent in Henne, waiting to rescue the Fins' from possible defeat in 2010 is a greatly proven talent in Penny. It is a secure feeling, and one that cannot be shared even by some of the league's best teams.
The Dolphins are deep at quarterback, and no matter who lands in the starting position, 2010 is one year that is extremely likely to be an improvement upon the last.
Regardless of who takes the snaps.
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