Rookie Chad Henne is widely
considered to be the future at quarterback for the Miami Dolphins. But that
realization wasn't immediately apparent. Coming to the Dolphins from Michigan as their second
of two second round picks, he was quickly overwhelmed in OTAs and in training
camp as he faced a pro defense for the first time. He soon realized that his
decision-making and his physical reactions would have to be much faster if he
was to be successful at the NFL level.
Eventually, Henne's grasp of things began to improve, and he started to
make some eye-catching throws. Overall, his work in the preseason made a good
impression on the Dolphin brain trust. It was so good that, had the Dolphins
not been able to sign Chad Pennington, Henne would
have been the starting quarterback on opening day (per offensive coordinator
Dan Henning). We can only guess as to how Henne would have fared.
Of course we all know how
the Pennington signing turned out. For Henne, Pennington's arrival was probably
a personal godsend. He has the opportunity, as does Beck, to learn from one of
the best in the game, a pro's pro. There's no question he will be better for
it, and that he has a promising career ahead of him.
I visited with Henne at the
Dolphins Training Facility in Davie
to get his impression of his rookie season.
On if the mental aspect
of the game is the hardest part for a rookie quarterback
Oh, definitely. Defensive
coordinators love to disguise and try to throw the quarterback off his game. I
think that's the whole key, especially with a young quarterback who will be
pressured more than a Chad Pennington, who doesn't get as many pressures. With
a young quarterback, they're going to pressure (more) and try to throw you off
On the most challenging
part physically of playing quarterback as a pro versus college
At first it was the
anticipation, getting the ball out a lot quicker. Defensive guys break on the
ball a lot faster than in college; windows tighten up, and you've got to get
the ball out earlier.
On how a quarterback can
help the offensive line
We help the line out with
the fronts to adjust. If it's a wide technique on Jake (Long), or if (a
defender) is going to come up the field and sit inside, we help out with
(recognizing) the fronts.
On his impression of
Long's rookie season
He had to adjust to the
speed of the rushers, the size of the rushers, and how powerful they are from
college (versus the NFL). He had some
bumps in the road early in the season, but right now he's at the top of his
game. He's run blocking (and) he's pass blocking well. I think he's doing
really well and he's going to keep getting better.
On adapting to the longer
NFL season versus college
With me not playing, it
doesn't feel like it's the end of the season. At the same time there (was)
still preparation going through the week and preparing as hard as you can.
On what he wants to work
on most this offseason
Physically, I feel I'm up to
par with my footwork. It's just the mental process of studying defenses;
understanding what comes out of each defensive front and the coverages they can
give me. That will be a big challenge for me.
On if playing in front of
100,000 fans at Michigan helped prepare him for the NFL
I haven't really been in an
away stadium that's as loud (as Michigan).
Denver was a
good atmosphere. I don't think the big atmosphere will challenge me.
On the process of
adjusting to having money and if it has changed him
It definitely shows all the
hard work you've put in up to this point. You're grateful for what you have,
all the God-given talent you have. But money's money and you've got to put it
away, can't spend it all, and just be smart about it. People around you have to
support you, (and) don't change they way they treat you or you treat them.
That's the biggest key. Your family staying with you and the people around you.
On adjusting to the South Florida lifestyle
It's great. You've got the
beach here, the nightlife. It's a great time here but you've just got to stay
off the streets, don't go out (late) at night, and stay out of trouble, just
like any other place.