Give it a rest: Chad Henne's job should not be in any danger in 2010

I'm truly amazed at how an unsubstantiated rumor by ESPN football insider Chris Mortensen created a little firestorm by saying on Tuesday morning - just hours after that Monday night debacle - that Chad Henne could lose his starting job sooner rather than later. He even went so far as to say that Chad Pennington would replace Henne while the team got Tyler Thigpen ready to take over.

Give me a break, everyone. This isn't happening.

Head coach Tony Sparano said it best on Tuesday when asked about this report:

"There's no truth to that right now. I don't know. Mortensen's got more information than I have, I guess. Jesus Christ."

Does that sound like a coach ready to make what would be a huge move by benching his young quarterback?

With all this attention being thrown on Henne - and most of it being negative - I think it's important to see where he is right now in his young career. The kid has only started 17 games in the NFL. If you compare his first 17 career starts to two other quarterbacks drafted in 2008 - quarterbacks who most people seem to agree are going to be very good players for a long time - you'll notice something fascinating.

Chad Henne has out-played both Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco through their first 17 career starts - purely from a statistical viewpoint.

Henne has a higher completion percentage (61.8%), more passing yards (3,750), and his 17 touchdown passes over these first 17 games is equal to Flacco's total and just one fewer than Ryan.

However, Ryan and Flacco both went 12-5 in their first 17 starts while Henne is only 9-8. Why? You can argue about the talent level of each team - and there's some validity to that argument. But Henne's 17 interceptions is four more than Flacco threw and six more than Ryan.

What does this all mean? I really don't know. What I do know is that it's crazy to even consider benching Henne at this point.

Just look at where he stands right now through the first four weeks of the season. He's 10th in passing yards, 11th in completion percentage, 10th in passes resulting in first downs, 11th in yards per pass attempt, and 14th in quarterback rating. For a player who is really just beginning his second season as a starter in this league, he's pretty much right where he should be - a quarterback in the upper half of the NFL.

And for the record, his five career 300 yard games is second most in team history.

This doesn't mean Henne doesn't have a number of aspects to improve upon. Nobody is saying he's a lock to be the team's long-term franchise quarterback. But there's only one way for Henne to get better and for us to know for sure if he is the long-awaited solution to Miami's quarterback quandary.

He has to play.

It's that simple, folks. Maybe Henne will never improve. Maybe he's always going to have struggles going through his progressions, making decisions, and being consistently accurate. Or maybe - just maybe - Henne will continue to improve as he gets more experience.

Maybe we all just need to relax and realize that benching Henne would result in more questions - not more answers.

Many people considered Drew Brees a disappointment three years into his NFL career. After sitting his entire rookie year, Brees started 27 games over his second and third NFL seasons - completing less than 60% of his passes while throw 28 touchdowns and 31 interceptions. The Chargers even went so far as to draft Philip Rivers after Drew's third season, thinking Brees was not the answer.

Some players just need more time than others to mature and reach their full potential. The only way we'll ever know if Chad Henne can be "the guy" here in Miami is to let him play without any worry of being replaced.

Let him grow. Let him learn from his mistakes.

Then let's reconvene here in January and see where he's at. By then, we'll all have a better idea of the kind of player Henne will be in this league.

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