There are more than three ex-Miami Dolphins heading into the 2012 season but three will be watched far more closely than any of the others. Chad Henne, Brandon Marsahall, and Tony Sparano. Of those three, only Sparano stands in a position to knock the Phins in the proverbial jaw.
All three were heralded as the Dolphins future at some point in their time with the Dolphins. Whether that was Sparano coaching the team from the sideline, Marshall lighting up the scoreboard, or Chad Henne becoming Miami’s solution to the QB plague. Yet none of the three truly worked out.
Brandon Marshall is now a Chicago Bear. Reunited with his favorite QB Jay Cutler. In Miami, Marshall put up better numbers than most Dolphins WR’s in the past decade but he also never fully grasped being a team player. He missed two seasons of off-season work due to off-field issues, called out Chad Henne in favor of Tyler Thigpen’s backyard approach to playing in the NFL, and repeatedly dropped TD passes.
Marshall was traded for two third round picks after being dealt from Denver for 2 second rounders. In the short two months since his trade, Marshall has already dished an open handed slap to the face of the Dolphins with his “Jerry Rice couldn’t succeed in Miami’s offense” comment. Dolphins fans will watch him in Chicago and while he will be more reeled in with Cutler on his side, the reality is that Marshall is still a time bomb and can blow any second. Does he make Chicago’s offense any better? Yes, but only as far as the arm of Cutler will take him.
In Jacksonville, Dolphins fans will get a cross state look at Chad Henne who many believe will be the opening day starter for the Jaguars. Henne was never embraced fully by the Miami Dolphins “Phinatics” and it’s likely that the change in scenery will do him the most good. Expectations are lower for him in Jacksonville than they were with the Dolphins and as such, Henne should find the time to develop into their system.
The Dolphins’ offense over the last four years was never a Henne style of offense. Then head coach Tony Sparano overprotected the QB and he never seemed to have the support of his teammates for varying reasons. As the former “future hopeful” for the Dolphins, Henne has to be thrilled to be outside of Miami.
Tony Sparano can do the most damage to the Dolphins now that he is the offensive coordinator for the NY Jets. Sparano would like nothing more than to stick it to the management who tried to ouster him two seasons ago only to succeed in the second half of last season. His knowledge of the Dolphins personnel will help him devise game-plans around the Dolphins defensive strengths and weaknesses regardless of whether there is a new system or not.
Sparano was a stickler for numbers. He could tell you which player played in how many plays and at what point that player becomes worn down. He will know that heading into games with the Phins. Having the opportunity to know his former team will bode well for his meticulous preparation. It would be easy to say that Sparano will find the advantage against the Dolphins but he will not have the knowledge of how the Dolphins will utilize the personnel that he failed to. He will also have to deal with keeping his own locker room from imploding as well.
For the most part, the Dolphins managed to get out of the free agent league new year season with minor losses. Henne was a foregone conclusion the day that Sparano was released and while Marshall’s trade raised some surprised eyebrows, the reality is that he simply didn’t fit the “team” concept being implemented into these Miami Dolphins. How well or how poorly the perform outside of Miami, will be something that fans and the media will pay attention to.