A Case For Henne

The Miami Dolphins may need to start thinking about the other Chad to lead their team.  Now hear me out, I’m not talking about replacing Chad Pennington because he threw an interception on Sunday that was taken back for a touchdown.  I’m not talking about replacing Pennington because he is playing poorly.  In fact, Pennington is playing pretty good football right now, and that is part of the problem.

Chad Henne is the future of this team and I won’t bore you one minute saying that the Phins should put him in to see what he has to offer or any of the other …”Blah blah blah” comments about the situation.  Instead, I offer a real concern.  Long game.

The Miami Dolphins offense is going as far as the Wildcat will take them.  Yet when the WC isn’t in play, you can count how many defenders are within 10 to 15 yards of the LOS.  For those of you not keeping track at home, that number is 11.  As in the entire defense.

Chad Pennington is playing very smooth football right now.  He is leaning heavily on his TE’s and Greg Camarillo but the problem is that defenses are figuring out what we as fans already know, Chad Pennington can’t throw the deep ball, and that is allowing opposing teams the benefit of not playing that time of scheme.

A serious case for Henne can be made here.  He has the arm strength that Pennington doesn’t but he lacks the experience and the game management that CP has.  Therein lies the problem.  Do you sacrifice an offensive unit that moves the ball with some success for an opportunity to stretch the field?  Or do you stretch the field and lose the veteran leadership?

Most may think that the Dolphins have nothing to lose.  At 2-4 the chance of a playoff birth is slim if none at all.  The Phins would have to start putting up games like they did against New England and San Diego if they want that to happen and it would obviously start this week against the visiting Buffalo Bills.

The Wildcat is not a surprise anymore and it’s no gimmick either.  It’s here to stay.  With that comes the issue of the Dolphins offensive game planning.  Right now the Phins are at the mercy of what the opposing defense can do to stop the WC and still be able to shut down the base defense which for now is operating smoothly but short yardage.  Miami runs a high-percentage safe offense.  Short curls, quick outside hits, and slants.  When the TE’s are involved the game goes slightly more vertical but the fact that Ted Ginn, yes you knew I would mention him at some point, can not get off the line consistently to beat a corner means the safeties never play too far down field.

While Ginn is definitely part of the problem, reality is that Chad Pennington isn’t likely to throw the ball 30 to 40 yards up-field anyways to hit him either way…without the ball floating long enough for a defender to recover.  You need a strong arm that can lead the WR in stride and that strong arm is on the bench.

It is hard to argue replacing CP right now.  With his management of the game the Dolphins would lose more than they would gain in Henne, but at some point the Dolphins may look to Henne to rescue the offense from a more short yardage team and try and stretch the field.

Of course, that is easy to sit here and stress, it’s entirely different when you wonder who exactly would be able to streak down the field and get open for Henne to hit.  It’s the proverbial “Catch-22″ and the Dolphins are right in the middle of it.

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Tags: Chad Henne Chad Pennington Miami Dolphins Ted Ginn

  • RickyNeverinhaled

    Pennington has made great decisions. But than again, so has my grandfather, and he can make the same throws as pennington.

    Henne/Palin. Now that’s a dream ticket!

  • Shady

    In terms of stretching the field Ginn and Bess both have the speed but I doubt either of them have got the physical tools to get free at the LOS.

    Throwing Henne in at some point soon makes sense to me too though. Pennington was brought in as a caretaker until Henne had time to see how the scheme plays out and how quick the game moves in the NFL. He’s had six games and a bye week now to get ‘it’. If we are genuinely in rebuild mode then Henne is going to make and appearance in the next two-three games, possibly only in relief at first but so long as he starts getting some time out in the middle that’s good enough for me.

  • idahomer


    You make a very valid point here.  This is one of my defenses for Ginn.  I don’t necessarily buy into the idea that he can’t get off the line.  One thing we must consider is would CB’s even attempt to jam him at the line if we had a QB who could throw deep.  I think the fact that Pennington can’t throw deep, and defenses know this that they feel they can jam Ginn at the line and even if he does get a clean break it doesn’t matter because like you said the DB can recover..  I have a feeling that if Henne was behind center DB’s would have to back off Ginn to respect his speed, thus giving him much more space for deep outs, slants etc..

    On the other side of the arguement – Deep throws and long TD passes result in quick scoring drives.  Penningtons dink and dunk approach eats time off the clock.  With the current state of our defense our best defense is keeping our offense on the field and the defense on the bench.  I’m afraid we may score more long TD passes, but unfortunately this team is not built to win a shoot out.  Once we can get some shut down corners and our defense can get off the field on 3rd down then I think the quick strike offense becomes much more desirable and effective.  I would like to see Henne getting in the game on occasion just to keep the defense honest.  Bringing him in when Penny is in and having him line up in the shotgun during the wild cat would force defenses to respect the long ball and get some of them off the LOS.  You can still work out some running plays on quick pitches or other means so that Henne is not running into the LOS and getting killed.