A Baker’s Dozen yes 13 is the amount of quarterbacks that have taken the helm in between Dan Marino and Chad Henne. For 17 years Dolfans were spoiled watching one of arguably the best quarterbacks to ever play the game line up behind center on game day. Jay Fielder was the player that everyone loved to hate. Jay wasn’t that bad, but he never had the physical tools to be a top QB in the league, he had the heart and desire, just not the tools and he was also hampered by the Wanny years of three yards and a cloud of dust. In 2008 Pennington had an MVP season and led the team that went 1-15 the previous season to an 11-5 record and the AFC East title. But too many memories of Ray Lucas, Jay Feeley and John Beck have made the Dolphins QB situation over the last decade laughable.
In 2007 I felt Chad Henne was the best QB in the draft was Chad Henne, the problem is Henne, Jake Long and Mike Hart decided to come back to the University of Michigan for their senior year with two goals. The first was to beat Ohio State. The three Wolverine players were 0-3 against their bitter rival. The second was to win a National Championship. Unfortunately for the trio they failed to do either, and while Long remained as a top five pick and as we all know was the overall number one pick to Miami in 2008, Henne and Hart’s stock fell. Henne played through an injury plagued season in 2007 and saw his draft stock go from a possible top ten pick in 2007 to a late second round pick in 2008. The decision of the trio to come back and the poor outing in 2008 might have been the best thing for two of the three players and the best thing for the Miami Dolphins in over a decade.
Jake Long stepped in day one to anchor the left side of Miami’s offensive line and should be a fixture there and in the Pro-Bowl for the next decade. Chad Henne was basically red-shirted his rookie season throwing only 12 passes behind Chad Pennington. The red shirt came off in 2009 during the third game of the season in San Diego when Pennington went down for the season with yet another shoulder injury. Unlike when Marino came in during the 1983 season Henne’s entrance wasn’t as spectacular, but he did show flashes.
In 2009 the Dolphins offense battled through numerous injuries to the offensive line and their number on weapon Ronnie Brown not to mention the loss of their offensive team captain in Chad Pennington. Henne had a young group of receivers that didn’t have a true go to target. While Henne didn’t have a great year he didn’t have a horrible either putting up rival stats to Ryan, Flaco and Sanchez in their first seasons. Henne has shown he is stepping out of the shadow of Pennington and taking over this team. During the off-season he has been a bit boisterous to the media chiming in on Tim Tebow, and stating that he would like a “big” receiver to throw to. Well the front office stepped up and went out and got one of the top three receivers in the 6’4” Brandon Marshall.
Expectations are huge for the 2010 Miami Dolphins offense. Jeff Ireland talked several times about “chunk yards” and with the addition of Marshall the young receivers look much better. Most expect Brian Hartline who led the team in TD receptions in 2009 to win the number two receiver slot and line up outside opposite of Marshall. Bess should take over his true spot in the slot where in just two short years he has come from and undrafted rookie to one of the top 5 slot receivers in the NFL. The addition of Marshall should keep teams from loading up the box and bringing a blitz on virtually every passing down. The table is set in 2010 for Chad Henne to have a breakout season and establish himself as one of the top signal callers and finally put to bed the curse of Dan Marino on Dolphins QB’s once in for all. Here’s to hoping that one Baker’s Dozen is enough to finally fill the shoes of a legend and lead the Miami Dolphins back to the Promised Land.