Tag:Tony Sparano
Posted on: August 5, 2011 9:53 am

Group of Dolphins fans chant 'We want Henne'

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Finally, some happy news to report out of Dolphins training camp. After a week that included "We want Orton!" chants from fans (during a fan appreciation event, no less), and the inevitable Brett Favre un-retirement discussions, Miami starting quarterback Chad Henne can take heart in knowing that he has supporters in South Beach.

Unless they were being ironical.

We like to assume the best in people so we're going with the former. Either way, the Palm Beach Post's Ben Volin reports that a group of fans chanted "We want Henne!" prior to Thursday's practice and -- lo and behold -- Henne had one of his best performances of training camp.

While Henne has been in the public crosshairs recently, he's not guaranteed the starting gig -- although Sparano admitted Thursday that "He is the starter right now." But Sparano also said "We always have our eyes open. But the players that are here right now, we're preparing to go into the New England Patriot game and play with."

Yes, Kyle Orton would have been an upgrade, but let's not confuse him for Dan Marino. (If you need a quick reminder of the Dolphins QBs since Marino retired in 1999, here you go. We hope you're sitting down.) So for now, Henne's only competition is Matt Moore, formerly of the Panthers.

At various points during the lockout, there was speculation that the Dolphins could be interested in Vince Young (though they admitted to having some concerns about his maturity), Marc Bulger (he retired this week), and even Carson Palmer (still "retired" as of this writing). And in June, Sparano only offered up a "we'll see" when asked if the job was Henne's for 2011.

Here's to hoping this is the year Henne puts it all together. He seems like a swell guy and, frankly, it makes us uncomfortable to read quotes like this.

"Deep down inside, it does hurt," Henne said of the "We want Orton!" chants. "Obviously you want the respect of the fans and you want them to have your back. If you're a Miami Dolphins fan, hopefully you're cheering for the Miami Dolphins and the players out there, not somebody that's not here."

And for a night that's what happened. How long it lasts depends on how well Henne plays, obviously. This is the NFL, after all.

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Posted on: August 4, 2011 3:01 pm
Edited on: August 5, 2011 6:29 am

Sparano on Favre: 'I can't rule anything out'

Posted by Will Brinson

UPDATE (4:00 p.m.): Bus Cook, Favre's agent, likened Favre to Elvis (no, really) in an attempt to downplay the rumors.

"Brett Favre's retired, that's all I can say," Cook told ESPN. "He's like Elvis now. People just won't let go."


The Brett Favre watch isn't dead, we're sorry to inform you. We thought it was dead when his agent Bus Cook told the press that Favre is "retired, period."

But then Tony Sparano, who's dealing with some major quarterbacking drama down in Miami, had to go and refuse to say he wouldn't look at Favre for the Dolphins.

"I can't rule anything out...I'm giving you the only answer I can give you," Sparano told reporters when asked about Favre, per Omar Kelly of the Miami Sun-Sentinel.

But all the fault isn't on Sparano -- Dave Hyde, a Sun-Sentinel columnist definitely poured a couple gallons of gasoline on the proverbial fire when he decided to write a column Thursday titled, "Why shouldn't the Dolphins call Brett Favre?"

His list of five specific reasons why the 'Fins should sign Favre are, actually, not that suspect, outside of the part about turning "the Dolphins from a team no one's talking about to one everyone is."

That's just silly, in my opinion. And not because all the publicity surrounding Favre with the Jets and Vikings the last two years has been terrible either. It's because the goal is to win football games, not "get attention." 

But, yeah, I'll recognize that Favre might sell more tickets than incumbent Chad Henne. And jerseys. And ... well, maybe that one works too, dammit.

Still, couldn't we at least just let the initial overtures on Favre begin in a way that doesn't require me to delete a bunch of comments telling me that "this isn't news"? Please?

Didn't think so -- and so we beat on, boat in the past and whatnot.

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Posted on: August 3, 2011 3:38 pm

Fans chanting 'we want Orton' make Sparano 'sick'

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano gets points for honesty, although that quality alone won't be enough to make Chad Henne a consistent NFL quarterback or insure that Sparano keeps his job. We mention this because during a Dolphins practice Monday night at Sun Life Stadium, the fans broke out in a "We want Orton!" chant. Apparently, everybody heard it, including the players and coaches.

The Sun-Sentinel's Andrew Carter was on hand and provides the awkward, uncomfortable details.

"The chant referenced, of course, Kyle Orton. He’s the Denver quarterback whom the Dolphins showed interest in acquiring before the start of preseason practice. And the chant came, as you’d expect it to, after Miami quarterback Chad Henne struggled a bit during that Monday night practice.

"First, fans booed Henne. Booed him after incomplete passes. Booed him after he didn’t throw down the field. Booed him when he threw an interception that wasn’t even really his fault. Then, it got uglier. Then, the “we want Orton” chant started and gained momentum and volume."

When asked about it Wednesday, Sparano got right to the point.

“Beside the fact that it really makes me sick?” he said, according to Carter. “That would be it.”

This is what happens to a fan base exasperated by the recent run on mediocrity at the quarterback position. Since Dan Marino retired after the 1999 season, we've seen the likes of Jay Fiedler, AJ Feeley, Sage Rosenfels, Gus Frerotte, Daunte Culpepper, Joey Harrington, Cleo Lemon, John Beck, Trent Green, Chad Pennington and Henne. It's enough to, well, make you scream for Kyle Orton.

We're sure Sparano shares the fans' frustrations, but he questions their methods. Specifically, Monday's practice was part of a fan appreciation event. “I think that when people come to the stadium like that in one of those kinds of events, OK, to support the Miami Dolphins, that what we should be thinking about,” he said. “That’s what I think.”

Sparano then admitted that, ultimately, he's unconcerned about such stuff. “I’m not worried about any of that. I’m not worried about how it affects anybody. We’re all big boys here, OK. I’m just talking about taking my team to the stadium, OK, in one of those situations and the reason why we did it, OK, and then to see that happen – it’s just disappointing to me.”

Orton to the Dolphins would have made a lot of sense (certainly more sense than signing Reggie Bush), but it appears that ship has sailed. According to reports, the Broncos aren't as high on Tim Tebow as it may have seemed this offseason, and they have every intention of not only keeping Orton in Denver but installing him as the starter.

So Dolphins fans will need to come up with a new chant.

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Posted on: July 3, 2011 9:03 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2011 9:59 pm

Henne wants to start, has talked to Marshall

Posted by Ryan Wilson

When asked last month if Chad Henne would be the Dolphins starting quarterback next season, coach Tony Sparano only offered up a "we'll see." (Not a ringing endorsement cut certainly better than the fate that awaits, say, Donovan McNabb in Washington.)

Henne, as you might expect, feels differently, telling the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Andrew Carter, “Well that’s up to the coaching staff but I sure as heck want to be the starting quarterback for Miami Dolphins and lead them to the playoffs and the Super Bowl and I’m going to do the best I can to compete out there and earn that spot.”

It's July, but a lot can happen between now and the start of the regular season. Assuming the lockout ends in the coming days, there will be free agency. And the Dolphins haven't hidden the fact that they will probably be in the market for a veteran quarterback (Marc Bulger and Vince Young have been mentioned as possible options).

In June, Sparano talked about what Henne has accomplished in the league and what he needs to do to get better. “The one thing we’ve had time to do is a lot of homework and study,” he said. “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.”

And when asked how he can improve, Henne echoed many of those sentiments. “It’s definitely the turnover ratio, I think. The biggest thing is not turning the ball over in critical situations, finishing the game in the right way in the fourth quarter and just not over-thinking things, just play the game.”

So for now it's Henne's job to lose. Of course, whether he keeps it is a function of his performance, which is in part dependent on the play of his wide receivers. The Dolphins have one of the NFL's best in Brandon Marshall who is in the news as much for his on-field performances as his off-field issues. In his first season with the Dolphins, Marshall caught 86 passes for 1,014 yards but just three touchdowns. And by January he was frustrated enough with the offense -- and Henne specifically -- to take his feelings public.

“Tyler [Thigpen] gets it a little more,” Marshall said during an appearance on Michael Irvin’s radio show. “He had an opportunity to play with Dwayne Bowe in Kansas City and they made some plays out there so I guess he understands [about] throwing the ball to a big receiver a little more than Chad Henne,” he said.

Last season, Thigpen and Marshall went off script during a game against the Patriots, and the decision wasn't well received by quarterbacks coach David Lee. “They expect me to run an in-route, but me as a player, when we get singled with no safety over the top I want to take a shot and just converted it to a go,” Marshall said at the time, according to the Sun-Sentinel's Omar Kelly. “Seemed like an easier throw, easier play was the go route.”

PFT reported that Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline agreed with Marshall, saying that the Dolphins seldom deviated from the game plan and the offense sometimes needs to “make … plays off schedule.”

Henne was frank when asked recently about his relationship with Marshall. “Yeah, I mean we had our ups and downs last year," he said. "And some not-so friendly exchanged words but we’ve talked in the off-season. I’ve been sending him some of the playbooks so he can pick up on that because he’s been bouncing around with some of the things that have gone on in the past. But he’s still a good guy, he just speaks up sometimes when you don’t want him to. But he’s a great player and you definitely want him on your side.”

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Posted on: June 30, 2011 9:34 am
Edited on: June 30, 2011 9:49 am

Dolphins have very specific FA targets?

Posted by Will Brinson

The Miami Dolphins have -- already -- had an interesting offseason. The running back combo of Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown appears headed out the door (and the Fins still passed on Mark Ingram) and, as previously noted, questions about Chad Henne remain (and the Fins still passed on various quarterbacks).

Oh yes, and owner Stephen Ross publicly pursued Jim Harbaugh while Tony Sparano was still employed, failed to land the then-Stanford coach and then had to give Sparano a raise.

This friction across three key areas has created a need come free agency -- Omar Kelly of the Miami Sun-Sentinel writes that the Dolphins have a couple of very specific targets between now and whenever the season starts.

First, Kelly believes they'll add a veteran quarterback, but not a Chad Pennington-style backup-type. Kelly believes it will be someone who will be "savvy enough to push -- if not unseat -- [Henne]"; names he floats include Carson Palmer, Kevin Kolb, Matt Flynn, Vince Young, Matt Hasselbeck, Donovan McNabb and Rex Grossman.

That's a pretty, pretty wide spectrum of quarterbacks, but the point is salient -- the Dolphins will get another quarterback who expects to get a shot at starting.

They're also going to get a "tailback who has the ability to run stretch plays … that gets to the EDGES," Kelly writes. The biggest name associated with Miami thus far has been the Panthers' DeAngelo Williams; Carolina's repeatedly said it wants Williams back, but depending on how free agency shakes out, it seems less and less likely that re-signing him would be a prudent move.

There are other available names, though: Ahmad Bradshaw, Darren Sproles and Reggie Bush are names Kelly hears from "reliable sources."

Those guys make a lot of sense, especially if the Dolphins have interest in bringing back Ricky -- a combo of Sproles or Bush plus Williams would be a solid 1-2 punch out of the backfield.

All that's easier said than done, of course, but it's pretty clear what the Dolphins need, and there's good news for Fins fans, because it lines up nicely with what Miami wants.

And, provided free agency plays out as expected, the open market might be spot-on for those voids as well.

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Posted on: June 29, 2011 4:30 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2011 4:52 pm

Hot Routes 6.29.11: Carson's Cincy home: sold

Posted by Ryan Wilson
  • First the Bills get new uniforms and now Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly says that the team was wise to pass on a QB early in the April draft. Turns out, Kelly thinks incumbent Ryan Fitzpatrick is more than capable.
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Posted on: June 21, 2011 12:39 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 1:13 pm

If Bulger wants to start, Miami could be option

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Dolphins coach Tony Sparano would only offer a "we'll see" when asked recently if Chad Henne would be his starter in 2011. The team has been upfront about its pursuit of a veteran quarterback once free agency begins; the only question is who Miami might target.

Regarding realistic free-agent options at QB and RB, Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel tweeted Monday that it's "[h]ard to say until I know the RFA rules. But at worse: [Marc] Bulger & [Darren] Sproles."

We've mentioned the uncertainty surrounding the restricted free-agent rules. However that plays out, Bugler will draw the interest of several QB-needy teams. NFL Network's Jason La Canfora said in May that the Dolphins could be in the mix for Bulger's services. But even then, Rotoworld.com speculated that "Bulger doesn't want to be a starter in the NFL, and that he'd be more comfortable not taking anymore hits."

This jibes with what Kurt Warner, who was Bulger's teammate in St. Louis, said last week (via PFT):
Warner pointed out that Bulger “got beat up pretty good” as the starter in St. Louis, and that it wouldn’t surprise Warner to learn that Bulger is “happy” as a backup, and that “he can just enjoy life and not have to worry about the pressure of being an NFL starter and everything that goes with it.” Again, Warner was careful not to phrase his assessment as criticism, and Warner said he thinks that Bulger would want to start again if he finds the right situation.
Whether Miami would be the "right situation" remains to be seen, although Henne is presumably on a short leash after two inconsistent seasons.

In related news, the Dolphins' 2009 second-round pick Pat White has signed to play for Marty Schottenheimer and the UFL's Virginia Destroyers. (Yep, that's the same Marty Schottenheimer who basically said "thanks but no thanks" when asked about Terrelle Pryor.)

White, who briefly played professional baseball, calls his new opportunity a "chance to show I can do it." Unfortunately, that never happened in Miami.

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Posted on: June 19, 2011 6:15 pm
Edited on: June 19, 2011 6:52 pm

Sparano on Henne starting for Miami: 'We'll see'

Posted by Ryan Wilson

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.

“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.”
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."

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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