Henne’s who you wanted, right?

9 Dec

Chad Henne is facing a blitz like he’s never seen before.

The Miami Dolphins quarterback hasn’t performed to expectations and now there are doubts about him as NFL starter. It’s been a swell of negative commentary around the Fins signal-caller lately, led by the likes of The Orlando Sun-Sentinel’s David Hyde, who surprisingly called for an “end to the Henne era” following his 16 for 32, three interception performance against the Browns.

Rough, huh?

Miami lost to the Browns after Henne bounced a ball into the arms of a lineman, setting up the game winning score. He then trotted from the field looking fairly distraught, and worse yet, with fans seemingly having lost faith in their starter.

That’s the problem with being a highly drafted back-up QB in the NFL, isn’t it? Everybody loves you because you’ve done everything right – because you’ve done nothing wrong. You’re only interceptions are in midweek scrimmages, and even then, you’re simply testing the arm, showing the coaches what you have.

Henne was as well liked a back-up as there ever was. Playing understudy to Chad Pennington – who by comparison has a pistol to Henne’s bazooka – only served to enhance the Michigan man’s reputation. By the time he earned the starting spot, everyone expected Dan Marino Version 2. I guess the Microsoft era has burdened us with the notion of always “updgrading”.

While Henne has a similarly powerful arm, he hasn’t yet shown Marino-like vision. But shouldn’t we give him a little more time? Acquiring Pennington-like vision will indeed take time.

After scouring the web today for Henne commentary, I couldn’t help but feel the lynch mob has sharpened their pitchforks too quickly when it comes to Miami’s No.7. Sure, he’s had time to improve on his fundamentals. He’ had time to become a leader. He’s had time to learn the offense, and, prepare for the league’s tougher defenses. But many experts are now claiming the arc of progress hasn’t climbed steadily enough.

Really?

Henne is in his third year, and from where I’m sitting, he’s doing okay. No need to panic. There have been a high number of picks. No question. But not so many that fans need to hit comment sections of newspapers with such reckless abandon. Seriously. Try some celebrity sites for a while – give yourselves a break.

Let’s take a look at the numbers: Henne has 12 touchdowns and 15 interceptions this season. These stats rank him at the bottom of AFC quarterbacks, and so, no, it’s not great. But there have been moments among the poor passes that defy the numbers (there always are). Moments where the quarterback squeezed a mini-rocket into the hands of tight-end Anthony Fasano, or lobbed a rainbow over the shoulder of back Patrick Cobbs. You can’t teach these passes – they’re instinctive.

There have also been plays that were superbly extended, when Henne – despite lumbering size – moved out of the pocket with agility and poise. He’s rolled to the right and sidearmed lasers; other times he’s hopped forward behind the defense to steal first downs. That’s solid quarterbacking.

Finally, before you jump to your next online forum to chastise Henne, think about Marino’s first few years as a pro. In his second year, No.13 threw 17 picks. In his next season, in 1985, he gave away 21 interceptions. Now Marino certainly threw a lot more touchdowns, but he also had some quality receivers. Not to mention the fastest release of any QB in memory.

Henne is not far off. He just needs more time. And patience from the very pundits who called for his number when he was riding the pine. That was just two seasons ago. Remember?

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