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.