Note: This artcle first appeared on nfl.com.
In 2008 the Miami Dolphins’ two best players, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, played the same position of runningback. To remedy this the coaching staff introduced the Wildcat offense to the pro game. Brown would line-up as quarterback and he would have the option of running it himself, handing it off to Williams, or (occasionally) throw the ball.
As training camp opens I sense the Dolphins coaches might need to devise another ingenius scenario involving two players who share the same position (and name). Two years ago Chad Pennington was Miami’s quarterback leading the team to a division title. He cemented himself as the thinking man’s quarterback, the ultimate winner, the all time leader in completion percentage in NFL history. Then came 2009.
The Dolphins were 0-2 playing in San Diego when Pennington’s throwing shoulder was torn asunder. Chad Henne, the Dolphins’ second round pick from the previous year came into the game. He stunk it up costing the Dolphins the game, but then Pennington had season ending surgery. Henne, meanwhile, had his mythical come from behind Monday Night victory against the New York Jets. He couldn’t miss. He was throwing passes that went further than twenty yards. Comparisons were being made to Dan Marino.
Henne played the rest of the season. He had his ups and he had his downs, but he could play with the confidence of knowing there was no one else on the roster who could conceivably replace him. The Dolphins’ went on a playoff run that failed at the end, and Henne earned himself the starting quarterback position for the 2010 season. Henne’s got a cannon for an arm, a new A-List receiver in Brandon Marshall, a telepathic rapport with another receiver in Brian Hartline. It seems like nothing can go wrong. But what if the Dolphins go on a three game losing streak capped by a five turnover game by Henne?
Dolphins’ ocach Tony Sparano says a surgically repaired Pennington is merely fighting for the back-up position. But if Henne fails wouldn’t the temptation be to let the steady, veteran two time comeback player of the year Chad Pennington have the chance to win his third award?
Or perhaps the coaching staff will come up with a new offense where Henne will line up at center.