If the Miami Dolphins have any hopes of improving one of the worst offenses in the NFL, improving the production from the QB position is a must. Miami has been looking for a franchise QB for over a decade now, and after this past season it seems that search will continue. The lack of success from the offense can be pointed to more than just the play of the QB. The offensive line took a step back, the running backs lacked explosiveness as did the receivers, and we can all point to the horrible play calling from former OC Dan Henning, although he claims execution of those plays is why they didn’t work.
No matter where the blame is pointed, the offense was bad, and if Tony Sparano has any hope of coaching through the next 3 years, he has to find a way to improve it. The improvement process starts with who gets hired to be the new offensive coordinator. Miami is looking for someone to bring in an explosive, high scoring offense. No matter who that person is, the play from the QB next year is what will determine if that hire is successful or not. Maybe the answer is already on the roster, maybe it’s not, but look for the Miami Dolphins to address the QB position this offseason, whether it be through the draft, free agency, or both. They cannot move into next season without doing something.
All 3 quarterbacks the Dolphins had on their roster to begin the season started at least one game in 2010. While it would be completely unfair to grade Chad Pennington on his performance due to the fact he was injured on the first snap he took, I don’t think it’s unfair to say that I think his time has passed. His shoulder has been seriously injured 3 times now, and he just doesn’t have the arm strength anymore to be able to stretch a defense. I love Pennington as a person, and I think if he gets the opportunity to coach in this league he will be successful. But it’s time for the Miami Dolphins to let him go as a player.
Tyler Thigpen also got a start, and came off the bench a couple times this year. The Thigpen situation is an interesting one. In games where he came off the bench over the past couple years, he played pretty good. He is mobile, has a strong arm, and isn’t afraid to take some chances. He throws the ball up and gives his receivers a chance to make plays, something Brandon Marshall loves about him. But when he got the opportunity to start, he didn’t look so hot. In his defense, the entire team didn’t look too hot when they were shut out by the Chicago Bears in his lone start this season. He was on the run the whole night, and really didn’t seem to have an answer for what the Bears defense threw at him. He seems to look better when he comes off the bench. He led Miami to a couple scoring drives against the Tennessee Titans, and helped Miami avoid a second shutout by tossing a TD against the New England Patriots in the final game of the season. As much as I like the potential Thigpen has, I don’t see him being the long term answer for the Dolphins. He could become a free agent once a new CBA gets done, and I don’t think Miami will try to hold on to him.
Chad Henne entered this season with great expectations. He started most of the 2009 season after the injury to Pennington, and showed flashes of becoming the answer to the QB search the Dolphins have been on since Dan Marino retired. In a year when Henne was supposed to progress, he clearly regressed. He played timid, didn’t take chances, tried to ‘manage’ games instead of win games. He lost the confidence of his head coach, his offensive coordinator, and some of the players. He played like a robot, checking down to his backs if his first read wasn’t open. Worst of all he was at his worst in the 4th quarter of games, especially when Miami was playing from behind. Henne clearly lacks the ‘it’ factor which all good QB’s in this league have. To be fair, Henne is still young and is playing the most difficult position to play in professional sports. It’s just so hard to see him struggle and see others from his draft class like Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco have success and lead their teams to the playoffs, you can’t help but think that he is not the long term answer for the Miami Dolphins.
I’m pretty sure Henne will return to Miami next year, but he is going to have competition. I think Miami will bring in a veteran as well as draft a QB in the upcomming draft. I think the team has too many needs to use a first round pick on a QB, but you never know what they will do or who will be available when they do pick. Some veteran QB’s are likely to be available like Donovan McNabb and Vince Young. I don’t think McNabb will be a good fit for Miami but I do think VY would be. He does come with a lot of baggage, he’s emotionally unstable and may be that way his whole career. But you never know what a change of scenery can do for a person. His potential is clearly there. He’s big, he can run, and he isn’t afraid to throw the ball deep and let his receivers make plays. Kenny Britt was having a great year until he pulled his hamstring and a great deal of credit goes to VY for giving him a chance to make plays.
If Miami does draft a QB it will likely be in the mid to late rounds. Unless Miami trades up in the first round, the top QB’s like Gabbert, Newton, Mallett, and Locker will surely be gone by the time they pick, so who will it be? I had no clue who they should take a chance on until this past weekend. Listening to ESPN radio I had a chance to hear Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy talk about the Auburn Tigers. This guy sounded like a seasoned coach in the NFL. He broke down things about the Auburn defense and ways the Oregon offense should be able to take advantage of it. I was really impressed. He is a winner too. He won a state championship as a high schooler in Texas, as well as a National Championship at Alabama. I think he is someone that could go under the radar in the upcoming draft and could be there in the middle rounds for Miami to take a chance on him which I hope they do.
Bringing in a veteran QB and taking a shot on a QB in the upcomming draft will surely put the pressure on Henne next season, and hopefully elevate the production of the QB position for the Miami Dolphins next season.