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2011 State of the Miami Dolphins: The Chad Henne Dilemma

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2011 State of the Miami Dolphins: The Chad Henne Dilemma
Chad Henne is 3-1 against the New York Jets.

This is my first article written on the subject of sports, and I've chosen to write about my most beloved team in my favorite sport: the Miami Dolphins. In the NFL, it all begins with the quarterback. In Miami, it all really began with Dan Marino.

One of the greatest passers to ever play the position of field general in NFL history left our Fins in 2000. Since that moment, we’ve been searching for the second coming of a mythical figure, our answer to the modern era, liberation from mediocrity. Yes, the quarterback situation is a little more heated down in Miami. 

For the first time since that moment in 2000, I believed we had found that redemption. In his second NFL start, on the national stage against our most bitter enemies, the New York Jets, Chad Henne led a dynamic Dolphin offense, going 20-of-26 for 241 yards and two touchdowns. 

It was the most exciting Dolphin game I had seen in years. In the most exciting play, Chad faked play action to Ricky Williams perfectly (probably because the running game was actually working), and unleashed a beautiful 53-yard ICBM over three Jets, including their vaunted “island” Darrelle Revis. The look on Rex Ryan’s face was priceless. 

Twenty-seven games, 27 touchdowns to 33 interceptions later, the Miami fanbase has pitchforks at the ready. Don’t we deserve better? Our once-proud franchise has wallowed in mediocrity for a decade. With shades of Marino still in our minds, we attack the obvious scapegoat, the quarterback. 

Rex Ryan doesn't look too happy with this play.

Chad Henne shows us brilliance and confidence, then shows us boredom and frustration. Toward the end of the year, he didn’t even look happy to play the game. Yes, he is “The Robot,” but any NFL fan can tell when a player is inspired and enthusiastic about playing football. 

During the season, a friend asked me: “What do you guys even do?” It was a good question, because the 2010 Miami Dolphins offense was forgettable not only in the passing game, but the rushing attack as well.

This is so important because the ground assault has been our identity for years. The Wildcat. Jake Long. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. We had bold, powerful rushers and innovative, clever schemes. We clearly lost that edge last year. 

Without a rushing game or pass protection, the aerial offensive couldn’t even launch. Chad Henne was under constant pressure from the opposing defensive rushers, yet the pressure from our Marino-crazed brotherhood may have been even worse.

After a three-interception performance against the dominant Ravens, Henne was benched, showing a complete lack of faith in our offensive leader. After two years, Henne’s 75.3 rating and 27-33 TD/INT ratio is almost identical to Mark Sanchez’ 70.2 rating and 29-33 ratio. 

In fact, it's better. Chad Henne has 500 more yards despite playing four less games on a team with an inferior running game. The major difference here is the Jets' fans and coaches have complete faith in Sanchez.

The Henne-Sanchez debate has a distinct difference despite similar stats: fan and coach confidence.

They know he is a young QB, and are right behind him. I am sure that faith contributed to his sometimes-inspired play. The fact remains: On a less talented team, Chad Henne did more than Mark Sanchez did with amazing players around him. 

Even more detrimental to Henne’s development, Dan Henning controlled the offense with rigid rules, restraints, chains. The Miami Dolphins staff has attempted to turn Chad Henne into Chad Pennington. Let’s get one thing straight: Chad Henne is a gunslinger, not a game manager. He has been that way since high school I suspect, much more Brett Favre than Trent Dilfer. 

I believe Chad Henne deserves another shot, one more year. With Dan Henning gone and Brian Daboll at the helm, the coaching staff must allow our leader to call audibles. That’s what Brandon Marshall got upset with in the first place. Let Henne open it up, let him take a chance. I still have faith that Henne can be the future of the Miami Dolphins. I’m not the only one either. 

Bill Belichick, Don Shula, Dan Marino, Larry Csonka, Rex Ryan, Mike Mayock, Marshall Faulk, Rich Eisen and multiple retired Dolphins agree with me. They have all either publicly praised Henne, blamed the play-calling, or said he can be an elite QB. Belichick compared Henne to Phil Simms... Rexy even compared him to Marino. 

In 2011, let Henne be the gunslinger he was born to be. He has shown us glimpses of greatness, and we have to see if he is capable of leading us to the promised land. The alternatives are lateral moves anyway. Kevin Kolb, an unproven talent with stats similar to Henne? Donovan McNabb, a veteran with a few years left? 

Well, there’s always the draft. Who knows, maybe not drafting a quarterback would just show a little faith in our field general. However… a 6’6”, 250 pound quarterback with athleticism like Michael Vick only comes around once in a lifetime…

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