Breaking Down Dan Henning’s Press Conference


Dan Henning was made available to the media today in South Florida. I was not a part of that media group. So alas, I have to strip down what was said by regurgitating what those in attendance heard and printed so people like me could regurgitate here for all of you to read in case for whatever reason you don’t want to read it there.

And if you did read it there, you likely got the spit and shine version. The one that goes, Dan Henning said this and Dan Henning said that whereas here I will give you my opinion on what he said and likely irritate Kim Bokamper in the process.

I use the Sun-Sentinel guys for my news because frankly, they don’t dis blogs that are not theirs and don’t feel the need to make sure everyone in the world knows they are better than everyone else. So really all I’m doing here is filling another line so that the picture to the right won’t look all that out of place with nothing much going on next to it. For the real stuff that I am giving you, and I think you will enjoy what I have to say, hop to page two!The following quotes were taken from the aforementioned Sun-Sentinel and are the quotes from Dan Henning and not the beat writers who covered the presser earlier today.  The non-blocked comments are mine.

"“Job security?” he said, eyes twinkling. “You understand I’ve been retired twice, so job security is not something I worry about. I worry about trying to take what we have and doing the best we can with it.”"

In other words, he doesn’t care about his job security.  Which means that he will not likely alter his plans for each week.  A coach who feels that they are in danger of losing their jobs, tend to try different things to fix what is wrong.  Those that do not fear for the jobs make the same mistakes over and over again, because frankly they don’t care.  If he isn’t worried about job security, then why bother waiting until the end of the season to make it a third retirement?

"“When we first came here in 2008, we only had four players left from the team that we picked up here,” Henning said. “We had one lineman, we had three backs. We don’t have any of the same quarterbacks, we don’t have any of the same receivers, we don’t have any of the same offensive lineman, except for the one, and we don’t have any of the same tight ends.“But that first year we were able to put it together and I think we were efficient, effective and consistent on offense. We got a tremendous boost by having a quarterback [Chad Pennington] drop out of the sky who was a tremendous leader for us during that season. … That’s what you try to do is get the best out of what you have.”"

Henning can talk all he wants about that now famous 2008 season.  The Dolphins resurrected a 1-15 season to go 11-5.  However, the team started out 0-2 and it was QB coach David Lee who rolled out the Wild Cat to Sparano and Henning.  The rest of that season was a “Wild” ride.  Henning used the WC to perfection and no one was able to stop it until week one of the playoffs when Henning, in what has become a staple for him, used it one too many times.

The fact is that Henning still goes to the WC at the wrong time.  It’s like that brand new toy that isn’t so brand new.  You want it to be, but it’s not.  He says the got a “tremendous boost” from Pennington.  Make no mistake that season was successful because of a formation that no NFL team had used before.

"“We’re not hitting on all cylinders right now,” Henning said. “That’s as obvious as you can get. We can say, ‘You had this injury, you had this injury’ — they got after us pretty good. We went into that game with only 12 sacks. I think we had six in that game and they didn’t blitz us. It wasn’t the blitz. It was a four-man rush and some twists in there. …“On top of that you’ve got Tyler in there, who’s trying to make the right decisions but he’s a little bit later with the thought process than Henne or Pennington were at this point in time because he hasn’t been in there doing it. Some of that blossoms on itself.”"

On all cylinders?  Ya think!  The Miami Dolphins offense has been so sporadic this year that it makes south Florida look like Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Oh.  It’s a roller coaster that looks a lot scarier than it actually is.  The play calling this season has been nothing short of atrocious and the fact is if your team isn’t executing the plays, then don’t call the plays call something they can execute.

"“I hear you guys and I hear the fans and I hear Coach Sparano on occasion: ‘Why didn’t we run the ball?’ ” Henning said. “Well, we didn’t abandon the run, the run abandoned us in the game.”"

This quote was in regards to Henning answering a question regarding the Dolphins non-use of the running game last Thursday.  Omar Kelly liked the last line of that quote but I disagree.  The Dolphins never tried to run the ball.  Tyler Thigpen was given the ability to audible at the line and the Bears basically forced the Dolphins to win in the air.  Injuries or not, as Mark Schlereth pointed out in his “garbage game plan” comments, it’s far easier to block for a run that it is for the pass.  How could the game abandon the run when the score never got out of hand until the second half?  Henning is full of it here.  The Dolphins abandoned the run.

"“In the first four series, we ended up with either a second and 18 or second and 20 or a third and 18, that type of thing,” he said. “That’s not the run situations. Before the score was 16-0, we had 16 opportunities, first and 10 or second and 6 and minus and we attempted to run the ball on nine of those. There was a 10th call in there where we have a run that was killed to a pass, and that was the one that [Brian] Hartline caught on the first play of the second half.“I’m not worried about that part of it. I’m worried about being effective, efficient, and we’re not doing that right now. We are committed to getting back on track, whatever it takes to get back on track. You have no chance to do things when you put yourself in second and 20 or second and 18. Or you make a first down and you have a penalty. First four drives we had three penalties, we had a fumble and we had two sacks. You can’t operate that way.”"

Henning made the only valid comment in these last two statements regarding the team getting into 1st, 2nd, and 3rd and long due to dumb penalties.  But the Dolphins rushed 8 times the entire game.  Not 8 of those 16 that he mentioned and while the team may have been down by 16 that is hardly insurmountable with a balanced attack.  The fact is that the Dolphins got so far away from what they were supposed to do that the Bears didn’t even try and stop the run in the third and fourth quarters because they knew that Dolphins weren’t going to try.

Regardless of whether Cory Proctor was injured or not, the truth is that the team could have ran out of the shotgun.  They could have gone into a WC formation, again he doesn’t use when he should have used it.  It’s hard to argue with analysis of the first four drives stalling out and looking ugly, but guess what, the game was 6-0 after the first four drives.  In fact the team wouldn’t go down 16-0 until the second drive by Chicago in the second half.  So when exactly did the game dictate the run stoppage?

What really happened is the game plan fell apart and Dan Henning decided that the legs of Thigpen were a better option than the legs of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.  Henning wraps up what I have quoted as saying above (meaning if there was more I didn’t read it) with the fact that this team is not efficient and not effective.  Well, that has a lot to do with the plays that an offensive coordinator calls.  Again, if the players don’t or can’t execute your plays consistently or at all, then maybe it’s the plays that no longer work.  And if that’s the case, then go back and read my comments after his opening statement regarding job security.

Henning has been a genius OC for decades, and now it’s time for him to be a genius on his couch on Sundays.  The oldest OC in the NFL right now needs a very long retirement.  For good.