The Miami Dolphins made some ground breaking news today in the world of Miami Dol-Fans when they announced the switch at starting quarterback from Chad Henne to Chad Pennington, as well as signing Al Harris, and releasing Jason Allen.
Let’s first start with the release of Allen. This was your special teams ace! For a team that harps on the play of their special teams all off-season long, then craps the bed during the season, I would fully expect the management to try and find some way to keep all of their special teams aces on the team at all costs. I won’t say this was a sign of desperation, but it definitely added another page into the book of questionable roster moves for this regime.
The signing of Harris was not a bad one to me. Heck, I tweeted Omar Kelly yesterday asking if he thought Harris would be a possible acquisition in Miami. I’m in favor of this move because it adds yet another veteran influence to the young secondary. But man, the release of Allen is just plain disappointing because we all saw what this guy could do on special teams. At the least try and work him in the dime package, or just strictly on special teams. Don’t just give up on a guy that you praised all throughout the pre-season.
The praising of Allen is another factor that just adds to all of the confusion surrounding the news today. The Dolphins have gone this route before, and we all have seen the end effect in all of the previous situations. Patrick Turner praised, a couple days later he is cut. Pat White reportedly improving all off-season and gaining praise from the coaches, then cut during training camp.
After all of that I would still not expect the Dolphins to just simply cut such a valuable special teams player! That’s what I cannot get over.
Obviously there is something going on here. Obviously someone is trying to save their job by making all of these moves. Obviously there is some level of panic here when the regime is looking to place the blame on a player that was at one time a starter for this team this year.
That leads me into Henne being benched for Pennington. This is the way I see it, plain and simple. If the Dolphins do not make the playoffs with Pennington or Tyler Thigpen as the starter, then this season was a failure in my mind. Not only did this team fail to accomplish their goal of winning the division and making the playoffs, but they also have impeeded the progress of Chad Henne, their young heir to the throne.
Does this regime not understand that there will not be growing pains along the way to success? Do they not understand that this could simply be a roadblock in Henne’s success, after all, not everything is Henne’s fault.
It’s not Henne’s fault the running game has failed to get going on a consistent basis. It’s not Henne’s fault the defense has failed to stop teams on a consistent basis. And it most certainly is not Henne’s fault that time after time the special teams has let the rest of the team down.
While Henne may still get a shot at regaining his starting position over the next eight games, one has to wonder where the Dolphins will go next. Pennington will most certainly not be back next year. So do the Dolphins want to draft another quarterback? Do they think they need to possibly trade up in the first round to take a QB prospect like Andrew Luck?
The benching of Chad Henne is a confusing move that only puts the Dolphins in a bigger predicament for the future. If they make the playoffs this year great, but if they fail, and heads are chopped, then the move was a failure anyway because we still do not know what we have in Henne.
While the move is clearly a statement from the coaching staff that a change had to be made to save some of their jobs, it also is one that I can agree with at the moment. For one, it gives us a chance to see whether or not Henne has what it takes to be a true leader and bounce back after he was knocked down.
Also it gives Henne a chance to take a step back and observe on film all that he was doing wrong. Henne is a solid quarterback who looked like he was starting to get more comfortable in the pocket and as the starting quarterback of the Miami Dolphins, but thing that I observed over the course of this season was that he simply did not have that “IT Factor”.
Name one game where Henne changed the game and ultimately the outcome. He just has not made that step yet as a quarterback, and part of that can be attributed to the coaching staffs conservative approach that they have drilled into him.
Do not get me wrong, Henne has been struggling as of late, but is it all really worth impeding his progress as a young quarterback? I understand that the offense is better suited for Pennington, and I also understand the offense was having trouble getting anything going, especially in the redzone.
But the problem here is clearly offensive coordinator Dan Henning and his conservative approach. Let Henne air it out. Let Henne make plays and do what he does best, and what his physical attributes allow him to do, throw the ball downfield. From what Ricky Williams told reporters today, Henne did not even have access to calling audibles at the line of scrimmage. If a quarterback is not allowed to change a play that he knows will fail, how can you blame the quarterback if a play fails?!
The benching of Henne is a shame in itself, and while I’m in favor of Pennington coming in and trying to work out the kinks in the offense, by the end of the season, I cannot help but wonder whether or not this move will be regrettable or not.
If these moves do not pan out, it very well could be the end for some of the members of the Dolphins coaching staff and front office. For what started out to be a promising season has turned into somewhat of a mess filled with confusion. There now seems more questions to be answered than there were before the season started, and if the Dolphins fail to make true on Brandon Marshall’s promise and make the playoffs, then heads will roll.