This much we know: once the lockout ends, the Dolphins will be adding a veteran quarterback. Whether the veteran will also be a starter is largely up to incumbent Chad Henne, who has been inconsistent the previous two seasons spanning 27 starts.
No word on who the Dolphins will target to push Henne; it could be Vince Young, but with the obvious "concerns about maturity" caveats. Earlier this month the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson wrote that "(One) official who has spoken with the Dolphins said there’s concern about whether Young would be happy as a backup if Henne beat him out. Remember, Young wasn’t happy when he lost his job in Tennessee. Speaking about no one specifically, Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland said, 'You can’t guess about' a quarterback’s 'accountability and dependability.' Those have been issues with Young."
At this point, with the labor negotiations ongoing and free-agency rules uncertain, the list of possible candidates to challenge Henne is up in the air. When asked recently if Henne would be the starter, coach Tony Sparano said, "We'll see." Not exactly a vote of confidence, but it's all relative.
Jackson, writing in Sunday's Herald, adds context.
If Cincinnati trades Carson Palmer — the Dolphins are pessimistic — or if Denver takes a midround pick for Kyle Orton, then everything changes. And it’s possible any of a number of free agents could beat out Henne, though ESPN’s Chris Mortensen said it’s unlikely Miami will sign Vince Young.There were times last season when Henne looked like a perfectly competent NFL QB, and other times he looked like the next coming of Kyle Boller. That's what's so frustrating for Sparano, and clearly what he's talking about with "impulse throws."
“The one thing we’ve had time to do is a lot of homework and study,” Sparano said from his golf cart at a team charity event. “And I would tell you when you put Chad’s numbers up against some of the better quarterbacks in our league, his numbers are pretty impressive. They hold up. Now what has to happen? We have to cut down the impulse throws, the interceptions that happen late in the fourth quarter.”
Henne ranked 26th in passer rating in 2010, but according to Football Outsiders, he was 17th in total value and 22nd in value per play, ahead of Mark Sanchez, Ryan Fitzpatrick and David Garrard.
As for what Sparano's looking for next season, Jackson writes, "…better accuracy on deep balls (he was 10 for 40 on passes thrown 20 yards or more); higher completion percentage in the fourth quarter than last year’s 58.6; and better production in the red zone, where 'we have to get into a mentality,' Sparano said, 'where you’re thinking about the big play first' and not a field goal.'"
Ireland says, “Chad has had some really bright moments for our franchise. I’m anxious to see him continue his development and see how it goes.”
Whatever happens in the coming weeks, one thing is guaranteed: Chad Pennington won't be in the running to supplant Henne. Not this season, anyway.
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