Can the Miami Dolphins Design an Offense for Chad Henne?

Don Shula went to the Super Bowl with Earl Morral (Colts), Bob Griese, David Woodley and Dan Marino. Each of these QBs had a unique skill set and each had his weaknesses. Shula’s genius was his ability to adapt his offense to the strengths of those QBs and put them in a position to be successful. Many coaches today are system coaches, they develop a system and then try to find the pieces for that system. When a team does not have the pieces the system breaks down and the coach fails. The same will happen with Tony Sparano and Brian Daboll if they cannot put Chad Henne in a position to be successful.

After three seasons we have had enough time to evaluate Chad Henne and to gain an accurate assessment of his strengths and weaknesses. By looking at what Henne does well and what he does poorly an offensive coordinator can then begin to design an offense that will utilize his strengths and avoid his weaknesses. There is a question of whether this is possible with Henne but that would only come from people who believe in systems and not coaches.

The main issue with Henne’s passing is aiming; Henne tends to aim the ball instead of throwing it. The importance of this is what many have labeled as robotic. Henne seems like a robot because he looks very mechanical in his throwing motion. A thrower has a feel for how the ball should arrive to the receiver, whether it should be lofted up over the defender, thrown to the back shoulder or rifled in. In contrast, an aimer has no feel and his passes tend to be thrown hard and flat with no loft. He tries to throw the ball to a spot on long passes instead of lofting the ball and allowing the receiver to run under it.

Most readers now can see exactly what the issue is with Henne but that does not mean an offense cannot be designed for his strengths. His arm strength is exceptional but he does not complete long passes often because those types of passes can rarely be thrown on a line like a laser. Plays designed for Henne would have to be very defined. Three step drops to hard slants, skinny posts and quick outs. Long passes must be designed to be thrown to an exact spot on the field. These passes can rarely be to the sideline because those passes must be thrown over the top. That is the reason the Dolphins do not throw fade routes with Henne because he cannot throw over the top.

His offense has to be a quick hitting offense, but Henne actually throws the ball with more feel when he is rolling out. When his feet are completely under him drives the ball on every throw, but when he is moving he is forced to loft the ball. In this case touch passes from Henne should come from him in a moving pocket. The wildcat offense was best when Chad Pennington was at the helm, but has never worked with Henne. This is because Pennington was not affected by being removed from the game or being split out and removed from the play, Henne is. Henne is a rhythm passer and once he is in a rhythm history shows he will lose it the moment he is pulled for the wildcat. A good coach will recognize this and realize the wildcat may have worked with Chad Pennington but it does not work with Chad Henne. The wildcat should be removed from the offense when Henne is at QB.

It is easy to look at a player and see only the weaknesses. It is a coach’s job to find the strengths and put the player in a position to be successful. It is obvious Dan Henning did not understand this concept and Bill Parcells was an even worse dictator. The object is not to force a player into situations where the chances of success are slim, the object is to use a player’s strengths and win football games. Don Shula knew this, it is up to Tony Sparano to figure it out. Sparano can blame Chad Henne for his failure should it come to that or Sparano with Daboll can design his offense around the strengths of his QB.

What do you think? Can an offense be designed for Chad Henne?