Miami Dolphins: Why Chad Henne Was Destined for Failure in 2010
This is the first installment in a three-part series on Chad Henne.
At the end of the 2010 season, many Miami fans were left scratching their heads as to how the Dolphins did not produce a more successful record.
The team had shown much promise in 2009 and hopes were high for the next season after Chad Henne had stepped in and showed great potential.
Then, another 7-9 season happened.
Much of the blame has been directed towards Henne, which is logical since he was slated for a breakout season. However, are fans correct in blaming Chad Henne for the Dolphins' lackluster campaign in 2010?
I don't think so, and here are my reasons.
It's been said that football games are won and lost at the line. I agree, 100 percent.
The Dolphins' offensive line had been abysmal all season long, except of course for Jake Long.
Injuries plagued the line and players had to constantly switch positions.
The key to a successful offensive line is chemistry, knowing the guys next to you intuitively and cooperating as one.
The line works as a single unit, but that unit was not able to develop with the constant changes from week to week. This led to the line allowing 38 sacks over the course of the season, which is just three fewer than the Colts and Patriots combined.
Of course, Henne looks like a slouch compared to those QBs, who could do their job from a rocking chair.
Just a season after having one of the top five running games in the league, the Dolphins only rushed for 1643 yards—ranking them at 21st in the league overall.
To put that into perspective, the Texans' Arian Foster was just 27 yards off amassing that total by himself.
Stats like those do not bode well for a team that claims to be “run first.” Nothing helps a quarterback like a solid running game—something Miami did not have.
This can partially be attributed to the offensive line, but Miami’s two backs did not produce as well as they did just a season before.
Williams used to be able to run through linebackers, but his age is catching up with him and he now goes down on first contact.
Brown, on the other hand, would almost come to a standstill when trying to juke defenders at the line of scrimmage. He'd go down right there.
This left Henne in challenging situation after challenging situation, when the run game failed again and again.
Dan Henning was in all likelihood the worst OC in the league. He was predictable and never gave Henne a chance to get into a rhythm.
Henning's conservative playcalling allowed teams to crowd the box and stop plays early.
To best explain Henning’s incompetence, take a look back at Week 9, when Chad Pennington was given the nod to start over Henne.
When asked how this would affect his playcalling, Henning said that it would not—how on earth is that possible?
The two quarterbacks have completely different skill sets—one being very accurate, with a wet noodle for an arm, while the other has a cannon for an arm but lacks accuracy.
Playcalling must alter somewhat when such a dramatic change is made at the most important offensive position. This alone proved that Henning should not be running an offense at any level above pop warner.
As he has reiterated several times, Sparano publicly claims that the Miami Dolphins are a “run first” team.
Nothing like giving away your strategy that easily.
This style is at the very least questionable when most experts refer to the NFL as a “passing league.”
Even so, Sparano would also express great enthusiasm when his team failed to produce on offense and left the field with just a field goal.
Putting points on the board is not a bad thing, but if three points is all a coach needs to be satisfied, maybe hockey is a better sport to be coaching in.
It did not seem that Sparano was pushing Henne hard enough to succeed, but was more complacent with his mediocre performance.
Lack of Vertical Threat
I love Brian Hartline as much as the next Fins fan, but he is not Mike Wallace.
Without a vertical threat, teams were able to double-team Brandon Marshall and cover all the short routes that Miami receivers were running.
This left Henne throwing into traffic, on the few occasions that he was given the green light to throw the ball.
Of course, this resulted in check downs and interceptions that plagued Henne for the entire season.
Even after the Wildcat had lost all luster, Henning still tried to make use of it. Simply stated, a quarterback cannot get in any sort of rhythm if he has to jog off the field every couple of downs to look on as a run play goes nowhere
There is no quarterback in the NFL who would have taken the team deep into the playoffs under those circumstances.
With the offensive approach that Miami took to the draft, hopefully Henne can produce a better season in 2011.
Stay tuned for the next chapter: Why Henne Should be the Dolphins Starter in 2011.