Countdown To Training Camp: QB's

Training camp is 39 days away and that of course means the start of the season follows a quick 4 weeks later.  We have taken peeks at the TE position.  The WR and RB position.  I have given you my take on the battles for camp and who I think will and will not make the team.  It’s now time for the QB position.

I can say this without much fear of being wrong.  None of the 3 rostered QB’s are in danger of losing their roster spots.  I can also say that despite key battles among the 3 positions already mentioned, no other position will be nearly as scrutinized as this one.

These are the Miami Dolphins QB’s.  A long time veteran, a sophomore, and a rookie wildcard.

Chad Pennington: Chad will enter the season as the number 1 QB and his play last year warrants that above anyone else.  Chad is still that cerebral QB who doesn’t make the long throw but rarely makes the ill advised throw either.  His meticulous work in the film room helped last years rookie Chad Henne learn to breakdown film, but make no mistake, Chad Pennington is not here to be a teacher.

Entering his 2nd year with the Dolphins Pennington still receives little respect from the media or the fans.  His lack of arm strength and his history of injury has many still outright believing that Chad Henne will be the starter by mid-season.  Pennington has a different opinion.

Pennington is in the final year of his contract with Miami and speculation still runs rampant that this will be his final season with the Dolphins.  A likely departure in free agency as the reigns of the team are handed over to the other Chad.

Pennington knows that he is in the twilight of his career but he will not simply pass along the torch.  This season Pennington may very well have a far superior surrounding cast than last year at this time.  Gone are the rookie lineman being forced to protect his back-side.  Gone are the question marks at WR where last year an unknown Davone Bess and a one game superstar named Greg Camarillo was slotted as the full time number 2.  From TE’s to RB, the supporting cast has matured as much as anyone.  Then of course there is the Wildcat.

Split outside, Pennington made one super play last year, catching a lateral from Ricky Williams and sending it down field to an open receiver for a TD.  The Dolphins plan to use more of the WC this year and in differing degrees of formations.  What will this do for Chad Pennington and how will the Dolphins disguise the formations around him?

That perhaps is the one question surrounding CP going into training camp and the one likely question fans will not get answered.

Prediction: Chad Pennington, barring injury, will start the entire season unless the team falls apart and a change needs to be made.

Chad Henne: The future of the Miami Dolphins last year seemed to be without competition.  That of course all changed when Chad Pennington was brought in to start.  If last years addition of Pennington seemed to signal a learning approach to the use of Henne, then the drafting of West Virginia’s Pat White has thrown that out the window.

Henne is a strong armed gunslinger with average mobility.  He is smart and his season long education behind CP only made him better.  Henne is impatiently waiting for the controls to the franchise that has sorely been lacking a young stud offensive general.  Can Henne be that guy?  Only time will tell and it appears that time is something that Henne has plenty of.

While the Matt Ryan’s and Joe Flacco’s gained rookie award nominations, Henne has been the guy holding the clipboard and watching from the sidelines.  This year will be no different, but unlike last year there is a caveat.  Will he be the 2nd QB on the roster or will he be relegated to the emergency QB who is inactive?

For Henne the issue is less about fundamentals as much as about the Wildcat.  Chad Pennington is the starter and the issue will be how the Dolphins use the WC to their advantage.  If Pennington is pulled off the field, is White a better option for the formation than Henne?  Of course.  Will the Phins keep all 3 active on gameday with no emergency 3?

Henne does not need to rush his development and if the Phins do in fact allow Pennington to leave the team after this season, the future appears to be heading to Henne.  This training camp will provide the Dolphins fans and both local and national media reporters an opportunity to see what a full year learning has provided Henne.  He will see more action in pre-season than any of the other 2 QB’s and likely more than both combined.  He will be micro-scoped from the bleachers during practices and every flaw or failure will be twittered back to the web.  Fair or not.

For Chad Henne, his year two future is simply going to depend on how the Phins use their QB’s and whether or not they keep all 3 active on gameday.  His playing time will depend solely on the health of Chad Pennington.

Prediction: Barring injury to Pennington, Henne will sit this year again.  It’s hard to predict what the Dolphins will do with the 3rd QB.  If they keep one inactive, the Phins will likely put Henne as the E3QB.  Meaning that if Henne enters a game prior to the start of the 4th quarter, neither White nor Pennington can return.  This is not a bad option for the Dolphins as it allows them to keep one other roster spot active and White should have more involvement in the offense from the WC formation than Henne would contribute.  if Pennington goes down, the Phins would simply make Henne the starter the following week.

Pat White: From cheers to groans on draft day, Pat White roared in from WV with chants of “WildPat”.  The Dolphins did not draft Pat White to be the teams future QB.  They will develop his talent at the position and he will eventually become the number 2 behind Chad Henne and then he will compete for the starting job.  For now, that is 2 to 3 years away.

White will see the field more than Chad Henne unless injury strikes Pennington.  His speed and pure natural ability is too valuable to a team that runs a formation needing a RB/WR/QB combination.  Pat White is all of those things.

White will find himself lining up in the Dolphins base package as well.  A way to throw the defenses off the scent so to speak.  The Dolphins must find a way to get Pat White into the base package which is something they have been working on during OTA’s.

It’s unlikely that the Dolphins will showcase the WC during training camp days open to the media and public and it’s even more unlikely that they showcase any of it during pre-season unless they feel that the particular formation preview would make opposing regular season teams spend more time trying to beat it.

White will get plenty of time during pre-season games to work the base offense and showcase his arm ability.  He will be asked to become a smart QB who relies on his brains and not his legs.  It will make him a better long term football player and a better WC option at the position as well.

Prediction: Pat White will be active most if not all of the season.  He is too valuable to keep locked on the bench in favor of Chad Henne.

The QB’s are set in Miami for this year.  Next year that all may very well change.  While Chad Pennington gets little props and even smaller amounts of respect from the national media, this offense is his and no one else’s.  He has the admiration and the respect of every man on the Miami Dolphins roster, the coaching staff, and everyone else within the organization.  Yet, even that is not enough to secure his future beyond this season.

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Topics: Chad Henne, Chad Pennington, Miami Dolphins, Pat White

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