Miami Dolphins: How the Draft Helped Solidify Chad Henne's Role in South Beach

Carlos SandovalAnalyst IIIMay 8, 2011

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 28:  Chad Henne #7 of the Miami Dolphins in action against the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 28, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Miami Dolphins General Manager Jeff Ireland has gotten some solid praise among Miami Dolphins' faithful. He addressed the most glaring hole the Fins had over the last two seasons—a futile offense, mainly due to an at-times shoddy offensive line and an even worse passing game to boot—and he didn't make any large, radical splashes. That, and he didn't ask if wideout, fourth-rounder Edmond Gates' mom was a prostitute. Good draft overall, I'd say.

Basically, Jeff Ireland and the Dolphins front office made a bunch of safe, smart picks, not landing marquee names, but rather building around the core that already exists in South Florida. The running game was addressed with the selection of second-round RB Daniel Thomas, while the lack of deep threat was addressed with the selection of speedy receiver Edmond Gates out of Abilene Christian. 

What wasn't addressed, though, was a position that's largely regarded as a priority among DolFan-nation: A quarterback. 

Over the past two years, Chad Henne has shown flashes of brilliance during games where he's had to throw upwards of 40 passes. At the same time, he's also pissed of Fins fans by and large with his inconsistent play and slow development. His vision is flighty at times, and the dude gets rattled easily, after a small mistake. 

When the Dolphins traded up to gain a second-round pick, many thought that Ryan Mallett out of Arkansas would be the Dolphins' main target to address this need. So of course, when Daniel Thomas' name was called out, most DolFans—as well as Mallett, himself—were pretty angered over passing up Mallett, prompting the quarterback to promise "payback." 

But this doesn't really sum up the Dolphins' game plan, though. It seemed that, since the beginning, Jeff Ireland never planned to draft a quarterback to compete with Henne for the starting job. Remarkably, Ireland took draft pick after draft pick to surround the Chad-ster with more offensive weapons and a better offensive line to protect him. 

In essence, the draft solidified Henne as the starter, and franchise quarterback, for Miami. 

This benefits everyone, though. Because while there are many Dolphins fans who dislike Chad Henne, the consensus is that we've yet to see his ceiling. His potential hasn't been reached, and we're still waiting to see if his growth is a personal failure, or if his environment (i.e. the players around him) has had quite a bit to do with his lack of growth over the past two seasons. 

Many have figured that Dan Henning is more to blame than Chad Henne—his offensive play-calling has been questionable, at best and absolutely ridiculous at worst. Chad Henne was heavily restricted in Henning's offense, seemingly only allowed to throw for check-down passes instead of giving him a bit more freedom with where he'd like to throw the ball.

Add the fact that the entire secondary would move closer towards the line of scrimmage anticipating a short pass or a run (and being in the right most of the time), and you have a recipe for a mediocre season by a young, developing quarterback.

With Edmond Gates, Chad Henne has the capability to throw to a speedy-ass receiver down-field, with Gates being more than capable of catching a long ball and out-running a corner on deep routes. And if Henne can consistently hit Gates deep, he'll have a ton of options in the mid-range (under 20 yards) game, with Davone Bess and Brandon Marshall being so, so dangerous in that region.

Daniel Thomas, of course, bolsters the Dolphins run game, with Mike Pouncey giving Henne more time to throw the ball, as well as opening up holes for Thomas—or, possibly, another scat-back—to break through for some sizable runs, which would add to the unpredictability of the offense and giving Henne even more time to act, while the opposing defense is still reacting to the offensive play.

It opens up things for Henne. The Chad-Bro can now throw to an array of receivers, and (presumably) will have more time to get the ball out of his hands.

Of course, that means Henne better perform, if things go as planned. For this year, Henne's job is safe, but if he underachieves in the 2011 NFL season, Jeff Ireland won't be too happy with him, and the Fins can finally pinpoint the reason for their offensive woes.

But yeah, for now, Henne is a starter in Miami, and the talent around him should—should!—further his development, as planned by Jeff Ireland. 

We hope you're right, Jeff.

Carlos Sandoval is co-host of weekly NFL podcast, The Pigeon Toe. You can check out their latest episode here, or follow Carlos on Twitter: @CarloshSandoval.