Can The Dolphins Coach A Rookie QB?


The Miami Dolphins have been searching for a star signal caller for more than I frankly care to remember.  Many fans and media alike believe that the Dolphins search for a QB should start and end this off-season.  While Chad Henne still holds the reigns as the incumbent starter, a rookie and/or a veteran will pay dividends to the development of Henne who has not had to “compete” for his job.

Today I sat and watched the highlights of two top rookie QB’s pro-day workouts.  Cam Newton of Auburn and Ryan Mallett of Arkansas.  I read some of what was witnessed by scouts who were there and came away feeling more and more intrigued by Mallett and more and more distanced from Newton.  Then the question hit me.

Can the Dolphins coaches actually coach a rookie QB? Or would they ruin him before he ever got up to NFL speed?

It’s a fair question honestly.  The current Miami Dolphins coaches have coached absolutely no successful QB’s since coming to Miami.  Henne is the closest thing to a success for their attempts.

Sure we can say they coached Chad Pennington, but Pennington was a long standing veteran who fit the Dan Henning system.  He was hardly in need of coaching and it’s safe to argue that he may have done more coaching of Henne than the actual coaches did.

The coaches have yet to find a way to really utilize the strengths of Chad Henne.  Part of that blame goes to Dan Henning but the reality is that Tony Sparano and former QB coach David Lee both failed to really get Henne in the flow of the games.  The coaching staff also failed with 2nd round bust Pat White, and it could also be argued that they have done nothing to make Tyler Thigpen a better a QB either.  In all three cases, none of those players were prepared to come off the bench and win a football game when they were called upon.

So how will they “coach-up” a rookie?

New QB coach Karl Dorrell has exactly zero experience working with the position.  An extreme head scratcher given the number of qualified QB coaches looking for work. Brian Daboll has been an OC in Cleveland but it’s safe to say he didn’t have much to work with there and it’s also safe to say that he didn’t do much with what little he had.

A rookie will likely be treated the same way as Henne was.  Especially if the team signs a veteran this off-season.  In other words, the QB will sit on the bench and learn, as Henne did.  That’s not a bad thing, but also remember that the Dolphins didn’t really work Henne into the system but instead threw him in when Pennington went down with an injury.  Henne wasn’t prepared through practice repetition.  In fact, some still say that Henne hasn’t been fully prepared to run and execute this offense.

Every QB in this years draft is going to need some coaching at this next level.  Cam Newton is not as accurate as he should be and wasn’t required to make defensive reads. Jake Locker has footwork issues, read issues, and accuracy issues.  Ryan Mallett has a big gun arm but has footwork problems and isn’t very mobile out of the pocket.  There is no Andrew Luck in this draft.

So who will coach them?

How is a rookie such as Mallett going to get footwork instruction from Dorrell?  The OC isn’t going to be able to spend every minute with the QB so you can write Daboll off the one-on-one.  Sparano may have the most time on his hands to work with a rookie but he has to manage all three aspects of the team so no one-on-one there.

The Dolphins need to draft a rookie and I will be thrilled if they take Ryan Mallett who I think could be another Dan Marino style of player.  I’m just not sure these are the coaches that will get him there.  Let’s face it, Don Shula worked magic with QB’s and his right hand man was Gary Stevenson.  Didn’t hurt to have Don Strock around for so long either.

Perhaps these Dolphins coaches will be better off skipping the drafting of a QB this year and instead focus on trying to get Chad Henne better or find a young enough veteran to come in who needs minimal coaching.  The key word being minimal.

Frankly the truth hurts and I’m not so sure that the Dolphins coaching staff have the right pieces in place to coach the problems that a rookie will enter the league with.

I hope I’m wrong, but if history has taught us anything, John Beck, Pat White, Chad Henne, Tyler Thigpen, Josh McCown, and Tom Brandstater, I have a better chance of being right.