When considering the situation in which Chad Henne has found himself with the Dolphins, it's difficult not to be reminded of Atlas; the Titan of Greek and Roman Mythology upon whose shoulders rested the weight of the entire world.
The hopes and dreams of Dolphins fans everywhere are dependent upon the young quarterback's ability to step up to the plate, and be the kind of leader who will rise to every occasion; one who will surmount every obstacle that stands between the Miami Dolphins and the Lombardi trophy.
Henne's 7-6 record in 2009 raised a lot of hopes for Miami, and a few questions as well. He was thrust into the mix, perhaps thinking that he would spend one or two more years studying veteran Chad Pennington from the sidelines, and was forced to perform.
Most people who took into account the circumstances out of which he achieved it, would say that a .500+ record for the year was quite an accomplishment, and yet it did not suffice.
From every corner of Dolphins Nation, fans wait with bated breath for each new step in Chad's development, still unable, with the available data, to make a final judgment as to whether or not this young man is indeed the Dolphins' ticket to the big game.
For all we've seen him play, the jury is still out on No.7.
Heading into 2009, he lacked experience—now he has 13 games worth of NFL learning. He had no real reliable weapon in the passing-game—now he's got "The Beast." He was forced to finish out the season with only one half of his running tandem—Ronnie's coming back.
Perhaps most of all, he received almost no assistance from a confused bottom-of-the-league defensive unit whose help over the top was that of two inexperienced rookies—now it's a year later, and Mike Nolan has come to town to shake things up on that side of the ball.
All things considered, there are no more excuses for Chad Henne.
For all intents and purposes, last year was his rookie season. He will get his first chance to start for one full season, after which time we will finally know definitively if he's the guy. In my own opinion, he is ready; he is the one .
To support my theory, I will compare him, as many others have, to fellow Michigan alumnus, Tom Brady. I think you'll find the similarities striking.
Both men spent their true rookie seasons riding the bench, watching their teams' veteran quarterbacks hard at work. As a result of subsequent injury, both were thrust unexpectedly into starting roles shortly after the onset of their second NFL season; '01 for Tom, and '09 for Chad.
In 2001, Tom Brady started in 14 games, went 264/413 through the air for a total of 2,843 yards, threw 18 touchdowns, 12 interceptions (including four against Denver alone), and was sacked 41 times. He fumbled 12 times and lost three.
In 2009, Chad Henne started in 13 games, went 274/451 passing for 2,878 yards, throwing 12 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, and was sacked 26 times. He only had four fumbles, and didn't turn the ball over on any of them.
The parallels between the two are astonishing. Following that first active year, Brady would become a three-time Superbowl champ, and lead the Patriots through a golden age much like the one that the Dolphins enjoyed decades ago.
If the similarities continue to pile up, Miami's next golden age is set to begin very soon, and fans may not then feel wrong to mention Chad Henne in the same sentence as you-know-who. Of course, I mean the great Dan Marino, but Chad hasn't earned same-sentence rights just yet.
Dolphins' fans have been patient with Henne, all the while knowing that his future stood upon a razor's edge, and that eventually, he would need to fall to one side or the next; victory or defeat, super-stardom or obscurity.
There is no doubt that all the pieces are now in place—Chad Henne's destiny lay directly at his feet, entwined with the heart-strings of an entire fan base, and indeed, an organization. He need only reach out, sieze this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and take it for his own.
We are all here with you Chad, and we know you can do it.
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