If only an NFL game were three quarters instead of four. If only a touchdown were awarded at the 20 instead of the end zone. That’s what Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne and his coaches ought to be thinking.
For the first three quarters of the first three games of the 2011 season, Henne has a quarterback rating of just under 104, which would rank seventh league-wide. Although the statistic is somewhat of an incomplete assessment, when we take note of his rating in the fourth quarter we begin to see the disturbance.
Henne has a quarterback rating of 48.7 in the game’s most critical quarter. His two sides in the fourth don’t help either with a ghastly completion percentage of 42.9 and a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 1:2. Not coincidentally, Miami has scored just 13 points in those three fourth quarters, combined.
For comparison, let’s take a look at fourth-quarter ratings of the three other quarterbacks in the division. New England’s Tom Brady (93.5), Buffalo’s Ryan Fitzpatrick (131.1) and New York’s Mark Sanchez (105.5) abuse Henne in this area.
It gets more depressing inside the red zone where Henne has a completion rate of 34 percent. Again we have Brady (55 percent), Fitzpatrick (62 percent) and Sanchez (39 percent) all grading higher.
Henne has improved this year; there is no question. As I’ve noted all month, his pocket presence and confidence are two-fold from last season. He’s also playing with ghosts on the offensive line in pass protection and a “star” receiver in Brandon Marshall who’s dropping touchdowns as if they’re grenades.
But we must not overlook his major shortcoming, which will inevitably terminate his job in Miami. Henne brings his worst when the game matters most.
The great ones make adjustments to negate a weakness in their supporting cast. They make those around them better. And most importantly, they find ways to win.
Chad doesn’t have the clutch gene, the “it factor." He doesn’t possess the “killer” mentality of a Rodgers, Roethlisberger or Brady, the single-most important tool in a quarterback’s arsenal. Some have it. Some don’t.
After 1,061 attempts spread across four seasons, it’s safe to conclude Henne is lacking in this department. Can he be a formidable quarterback in this league with the right guys around him? Sure. But he isn’t an impact player individually and probably never will be.
It’s too hard to consistently win in today’s game without a special player behind center. The margin for error is too small. Too many things have to go right.
When a new regime comes in this offseason to take out the garbage originating from the great Bill Parcells, odds are they will seek a fresh start at quarterback. It’s honestly not the worst year to have a nightmare of a season as the quality of quarterback prospects in next year’s draft is going to be outstanding.
Keep an eye on Stanford’s Luck, Oklahoma’s Jones, USC’s Barkley and Baylor’s Griffin. It wouldn’t be a shock to see one of those names on a Dolphins jersey next year.
Follow on Twitter @MiaSportsGuy