It’s weird how sometimes sporting events can almost play out like a novel. And if you missed the novel that was Miami’s week two game with the Colts, then the first drive of their week three game against the Chargers served as a handy Cliff’s Notes version of the Colts game. The dominant running game. The perfect execution. And the devastating blunder negating all the hard work that came before. Against the Chargers it was Ronnie Brown’s fumble at the one that squandered the momentum and cost the team a TD. But of course that was just the prelude to the true football tragedy--Chad Pennington’s season-ending shoulder injury.
Now Sparano previously made it clear Henne would get his chance to play at some point this season. And after three straight losses the odds shot way up for Henne to be playing sooner than later. But it’s sad that it took a horrible injury to Pennington to bring about Henne’s first start. I need to write a few words here about Pennington. My first real memories of the NFL start date to about 1974. So for almost all my first 25 years of football-watching I saw great quarterbacks leading the Miami Dolphins. I expected it. First Griese. Then Marino. And then for eight solid years the Dolphins trotted out pathetic QB after pathetic QB. Jay Fiedler was probably the best of them and he barely rose to the level of mediocrity. And what came after. Ugh: Ray Lucas--high comedy. A.J. Feely---arguably the worst trade in team history. John Beck--utter waste of a high draft pick. Duante Culpeper--we could have had Drew Brees! (Nick Saban’s an idiot!). Cleo Lemon--a more aptly named player there has never been. You had to wonder if the Dolphins would ever start a quality QB again.
And then, thanks to Bret Favre not retiring for the fourth or fifth time, Chad Pennington dropped into the team’s lap. Pennington took the opportunity to post an MVP-type season, the best quarterbacking season of any Dolphin not in the Hall of Fame, and lead Miami to a division title and the playoffs. Playoffs! After a 1-15 season nobody saw that coming. Dolphin fans used to take the playoffs for granted. By 2008 it was a distant memory until Chad Pennington started taking the snaps. He gave us a minor miracle. Even if he never puts on a football uniform again Dolphin fans owe him a lot. Thanks Penny.
As for the other Chad, Chad Henne didn’t play all that well against San Diego. But I’ve seen worse (Hey Ray Lucas. How's it going A.J. Feely?) At least Henne showed flashes of potential, something we waited for in vain with John Beck and the other parade of losers I mentioned above. Against Buffalo Henne showed a lot more than flashes. He managed to play his entire first start without making one single catastrophic error, something that hasn’t been so easy to come by in this decade for Miami. Getting that first win was big. It was just two seasons ago that Miami was forced to yank Beck as the starter and reinstall Cleo Lemon at the helm (yeah, that was the sequence of events. It’s true) in a desperate attempt to get some kind of win someway somehow to avoid the stigma of an 0-16 season. And that plan actually worked. But nobody wanted a repeat of anything like that. Ever. Now without question it should be Henne’s team all year. He faces a tougher opponent this week so we shall see but so far so good.