Chad Henne "playing his game" now as he seeks redemption

I admit that I was not opposed to the quarterback switch a few weeks ago when the Miami Dolphins felt it was best to sit Chad Henne and start the fragile veteran in hopes of salvaging the season. I did write, though, that the swap sure had the stench if desperation.

But there was a little twist of fate just minutes into that first game following the quarterback change. Chad Pennington exited with yet another shoulder injury just two plays into the game - forcing the young, recently demoted Henne back into the fire. And all he's done since then is put together two very good performances, leading his team to two wins - with the drama of a somewhat serious knee injury being thrown into the fray as well.

Henne's response

"When I took Chad out for Chad Pennington, we had a really great conversation," head coach Tony Sparano said on Sunday after the game. "He didn't want to punch - I mean maybe he wanted to punch me in the head. I don't know. But it wasn't one of those things. I have a really good relationship with the kid and he did a heck of a job for us."

No, Henne did not take a swing at his head coach when he was told he would be benched. Instead he said all the right things, prepared, and waited for his second chance. His shot at redemption came just a few days later - and he clearly made the decision to let it fly. After all, if Chad was going to lose his job, he might as well go down with guns blazing.

"There have been tough times the last couple of weeks," Henne said after Sunday's win. "I've been preparing and I knew my day would come again. So I came out and played my game and showed the coaches I'm able to come out here and help the team win."

He played his game. Let that sink in for a moment.

I know I'm not the only one who has noticed a difference in Chad Henne on the field in his last two games. He's playing with some swagger. He's playing with some attitude. He's playing with something I refer to as the "F--- You" mentality.

While Henne didn't take a shot at Sparano in the literal sense, what he's doing now is taking shots at his coaches on the field - by taking shots down the field.

Numbers don't lie

All you have to do to see the obvious difference in how Henne is playing the game since his benching is look at his numbers. His 10.23 yards per attempt average on Sunday was his highest single-game YPA of his young career. His 8.57 YPA average against Tennessee was the third highest total of his career.

I don't think that's a coincidence.

Also not a coincidence is Henne's 100.3 passer rating on Sunday - his third best single-game performance in his career. Chad has only put up a 90+ passer rating in seven of the 25 games he's attempted a pass in. Two of those performances were his past two games.

Over his last two games, Henne has a cumulative passer rating of 96, completing 62% of his passes and averaging 9.43 yards per attempt. If not for those two interceptions - pass attempts that saw Henne trying to do too much instead of simply throwing it away - his play these past two weeks would have been seemingly spotless.

Henne and Sparano are intertwined

"Listen, I want somebody to go out there and make me wrong," declared Sparano following the game. "That's good. I have no problem with that."

Of course he doesn't. Why would he?

His fate as head coach of this team very much rests on how well Chad Henne develops. If the coaches and front office all agree that Henne is not "the guy" for this franchise, then it's unlikely Sparano will still be in Miami to help find who is.

That's the nature of this business.

And that is why it's fascinating that the quarterback he benched will ultimately play a huge role in Sparano's future with this franchise.

"I thought that he showed great progress," Sparano said about Henne on Monday. "He showed me that he didn't put his head in the sand here through this whole thing which I knew he wouldn't do. He's not that type of kid, he's not built that way."

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