Henne Or Henning?

The Miami Dolphins won on Sunday, albeit ugly.  Still, they won.  In the process they broke two losing streaks.  A five gamer at Orchard Park, NY and a 4 game opening weekend losing streak.  It has to be said that no matter when, where, or how, the Dolphins and the Bills play each other very hard.  Sunday was no different.  But while the Dolphins defense was keeping Trent Edwards and company locked behind blitz schemes and Mike Nolan’s defensive packages, the offense sputtered throughout the game looking more and more like the team that we saw last year and two years before that.  In other words, anemic.  So who’s fault is this? Chad Henne?  Or Dan Henning?

On Sunday we saw everything from Henne. We saw the ball thrown too low and too high, we saw too much touch, not enough, quick reads, slow reads, and no reads at all.  Henne managed the game well but his indecisions in the pocket led to sacks and miscues.   He missed Brandon Marshall twice when he was wide open, one would have been an easy walk in touchdown, and he misread two other plays that left WR’s wide open, opting instead under no pressure to dump the ball.

It’s apparent that Chad Henne still doesn’t believe in Chad Henne.  His foot work is all wrong and he often “dances” in the pocket.  He is still playing too fast for the game and at times is tossing the ball way too early when he has a lot of time.  Then, he turns around the next play and slows so far down that he is on his back holding the ball.

I tend to forgive the balls thrown too low or too high and even the ones that simply miss because Marshall and Henne didn’t work a lot through mini-camp with Marshall on the sidelines.  Still, it’s apparent that he needs to get his head into the game or at the very least into his own helmet.  Henne is not leading this team but instead is being led by the team.

Very early this morning we saw San Diego Charger QB Phillip Rivers absolutely livid because his Oline couldn’t get the plays right.  While Henne doesn’t need to be that drastic, it would go a long way for him to chew some rear-ends when he had to.  It’s his team but he is hardly taking control over it.

On the other hand, could this all be Dan Hennings’ fault?  Henning has been the OC now for 3 off-seasons and has yet to really open up  the game.  He still insists on running the Wild Cat which hasn’t worked since that first year.  It’s not simply that he using the “Cat” it’s when he uses it.  If the Dolphins are showing any consistency with the run or the pass, he switches in the “WC” and voila’, the drive and the momentum ends.

While the WC is only part of the problem, let’s also understand that by putting into a drive, it kills any momentum of the game that Henne may be developing.  In my opinion it is not simply a break for Henne as much as it is a fault in the system.  It’s fine if you employ it a couple of times a game but pick your battles and don’t do it when your trying to win.

The other issue with Henning is he has yet to spread the offense out.  We still employ the 5 yard dink and dunk passing game and until we spread the field and go deep a couple of times, there will be no running lanes for the running backs.   Brian Hartline showed last season that he could get down field and yet he was only thrown to three times.  Davone Bess took over the possession role, and Phin fans finally got to see what Brandon Marshall could do.  Problem, Marshall was used more like a possession receiver than a number 1 wide-out.

Dan Henning is not showing his ability to adjust and part of that problem may be that he is in the same mold as Bill Parcells.  A grind it out running game that eats up clock and then uses the passing game to keep the defenses honest.  That’s all well and fine but nowhere on the Miami offense is there personnel fit to that kind of grind it out attack.  This team is made more for a balanced attack and we simply didn’t see it on Sunday.

Another problem is that way head coach Tony Sparano appears to be calling these games.  He plays not to lose instead of playing to win.  It’s an ugly trend that dates all the way back to Dave Wannstedt and it isn’t changing.  Buffalo was kept in this game for no other reason that Miami lacked the knock out killer instinct that is required to win in this NFL.

This week they face one of the best runners in the league in Adrian Petersen.  One of the best offensive lines in the game and a future Hall of Fame QB in Brett Favre.  And that is the easy part of the game.  The Vikings defense held Drew Brees and his high-powered offense to one TD in the air and only 227 yards passing.  That is a tall order for someone like Chad Henne and Dan Henning who just don’t seem to be producing much together.

It all comes down to this.  Henne needs to believe in himself, slow down, and the let the game play out in front of him.  If he does that, he will be around for a long time, if he doesn’t, he won’t make it through the season.  Dan Henning on the other hand needs to allow Henne to use his arm to get the ball down field.  Open up the offense and stop with the Wild Cat.  It doesn’t work.  So far, not much is.

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  • Freakoffaleash

    In my opinion the offensive play calling was pretty horrid. They aren’t using their strengths of their offense. I wouldn’t say scrap the wildcat but I would say utilize it more like we did the first season. I swear every time I see us run wildcat its ronnie with a delay up the middle. We have to do more than simple run plays with it. We aren’t using the big physical presence that Marshall is on the field. Like you said we use him as a possession receiver which is not doing us any good. We may have well just kept camarillo for that. While Henne in no way looks comfortable with this offense at all, I fault Henning for this. His play calling is fairly predictable and doesn’t let the offense get in a groove. I have noticed this the past 2 years and yelled and screamed what were you thinking calling that play last year. We play it way too safe when we are ahead, which makes me think in back of the coaching staff’s mind they really don’t have the confidence they say they do in Henne. And Henne is most likely starting to get that and in turn doubting himself causing his on field issues.

    In order to turn him around I say they seriously let Henne go next game get his confidence back. Let him take the big chances down field give him the chance to win this game. In all reality this would be lowest possible risk game to do this and best opportunity. We lose we are 1-1, at the least Henne will better understand what he can do without the choke chain around his neck and boost his confidence. Hell maybe it will make Henning realize he normal playcalling blows and needs some work.

  • Joshua

    Awesome article…I was at the game Sunday and saw the overly conservative offense almost choke away another one. Sparano is totally clueless when it comes to clock management. I think it’s time Donald Lee got a shot at OC, only if he can limit the Wildcat plays to the beginning of one or two drives…and maybe if the team is struggling in short yard situations.

  • Lt Dan

    I don’t think Henne can change the way he plays the game. I think he has a great arm, but not the essential other qualities that make a great q-back. I think Thigpen would do a better job based on what I saw in preseason, and I think he should have gotten, and should now get the start. Some things you can teach, some things have to come from inside the player.

  • beowulf

    Do-it-again-Dan has a long history of being too conservative! The Phins had NO offense at all the first two games of Henning’s reign! R & R rushed for 47 yards combined in that 1st game against NY, where we scored 14 points, and then against Arizona they rushed for 53 yds as we scored 10 points. Enter David Lee and the Wildcat. One week later R&R rushed for 211 yds as we scored 38 points in NE! What happened? Somebody OTHER than Henning brought in a package! Henning has been riding that package ever since. We ran it 4 times Sunday for NINE yards! David Lee should be the OC!

  • Dolfan

    I don’t believe we need to scrap the Wildcat. I personally love it. The problem is that it has become predictable. When you see it, you know its going to be a run play (either right up the middle or a sweep to the outside). For the wildcat to be effective there has to be the threat of passing out of it to keep the deffenese from crowding the line and stuffng the run. Also we need to take more shots down field. Let the other team know that we will go there and they better respect it allowing running lanes to open up. But bottom line is that this team needs a killer instint. They need to put a team down early and keep them down. Just once, I want to watch a Dolphins game where I’m not on the edge of my seat wondering if they are going to give up the 3pt lead with 1 min to go in the game. I want to be bored at the end of the game because we have a 17pt lead at the 2 min warning. Thats what this team needs.

  • Finiscious

    Nailed it. Thank you and hopefully it crosses the coordinator’s desk.

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  • Mark

    The one thing Tony Sparano has been emphasizing over the offseason is chunk yardage. In order to get chunk yardage, we need to start throwing the ball downfield. You’re never going to get anywhere by throwing dink and dunk passes (unless you’re lucky and break a couple tackles). This year, we have the weapons. Marshall, Hartline, and Moore are all capable of stretching the field. We have a strong armed quarterback in Henne. And obviously by doing so, you will open up some running lanes for Ronnie & Ricky. Even if we aren’t quite as successful in doing this, teams still have to respect the fact that we are going to take our shots. So instead of just talking about getting chunk yardage, maybe this is the year our offense should do something about it. Attack the defense and keep them off-balance. I’d rather see an offense that attacks and plays to win than one that does everything not to lose.

  • Aaron Alexander

    Great article, I think Dan Henning is the problem, his lack luster play calling is hurting the offense. In my opinion he wouldn’t even been hired if it wasn’t for Bill. Maybe now that BP is only a consultant Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano will see the need for change an find a real play caller. The game has definitely passed him by. Maybe David Lee can do a better job.

  • Txmedic5

    Henning is a Bill Parcells guy so he won’t get demoted or fired, but someone better thump him in the head a couple of times to wake his rear end up.

  • MiamiChris

    I completely agree with this post and most of the replies. Chad needs to completely believe in himself and everyone else around him for this team to achieve the level everyone knows they can reach. The Dolphins will only go so far as Chad Henne will take us. You can make all the upgrades in the world but the style of offensive play calling we run is just too conservative for us to win this division, let alone win a Super Bowl. Look at how we beat Buffalo…does anyone think that will fly against New Orleans? New England? Houston? Not a chance. I’ll leave you with this: and I completely, whole-heartedly believe this too…this weekend, Miami needs to open the flood gates offensively. Air it out…and down field too – not check downs to the backs like Sanchez. That’s the only way we’ll beat Minnesota and if we can beat the Vikes in that fashion, that will give Henne the confidence he needs to be a top 10 QB in this league.