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The Dolphins are one of many teams around the league who currently have a good young quarterback on the roster who might be the franchise's long-term answer at the position. Like Matt Ryan in Atlanta, Joe Flacco in Baltimore, Matthew Stafford in Detroit, and even Mark Sanchez in New York, Chad Henne will enter the 2010 season as the unquestioned starter at the game's most important position.
Also like all of those guys mentioned above, Henne is far from a proven commodity. Yes - he showed flashes of great potential in spurts last season. But we really still do not know what Henne might become.
That's why the comments made by owner Stephen Ross over the weekend made such headlines. Call it the curse of the great number 13 if you'd like. But when anyone comes out and says publicly that a relatively unproven quarterback will "go down as the greatest quarterback in Miami Dolphin history," you instantly raise the expectation level to potentially unreachable heights.
With that said, I'm a little surprised about a post on ESPN's AFC East blog by Tim Graham in which Graham seems to think that Dolphin fans are going "a little too gaga over Henne." Perhaps Graham is a little bit out of touch with true Dolphin fans. After all, while many fans are very optimistic that Chad Henne could become a really good quarterback - maybe even a top five quarterback - I'm not seeing many fans at all who are already anointing him as the second coming of Dan Marino.
I don't think it's fair to sit here and say that Dolphin fans are going "too gaga" over their young quarterback simply because the owner of the team - who is in the business of selling tickets - believes Henne will go down as the franchise's greatest quarterback. Let's be honest - that's just Ross showing confidence in a team in which he has invested billions of dollars into. And if his comments put his team in the headlines and happen to help sell a few more tickets, that's just icing on the cake for Ross.
If anything, I think most fans are actually being more cautious than anything in regards to their young signal caller. Maybe that's because Dolphin fans like myself were spoiled for years by having the greatest pure passer in NFL history lining up under center - and then followed that era up with nothing but disappointment. Let's be honest - our expectations for what a quarterback should be were a bit unreasonable after Marino retired. And I do believe that this played some role in the parade of quarterbacks that have come through Miami during this era.
It's because of that very parade of 13 quarterbacks before Henne (though to be fair, Chad Pennington was not a disappointment at all) that our expectations as fans actually seems to be lower than what fans of most other teams expect from their young quarterback. So I think that it's unfair for writers like Tim Graham to say that we're "too gaga" for Henne. I think we're actually seeing most fans fall into the "cautiously optimistic" category in terms of their feelings about Henne.
I do believe, though, that this year is a big one for Chad. He will now have a full offseason as the unquestioned starter under his belt. He will have a legitimate number one receiver. And he will now have a complete grasp of the offense and (hopefully) command of the huddle.
It's "sink or swim" time for the former Michigan Wolverine - a kid who started as a freshman and led his team to a Big Ten title. He's not going to be fazed by the challenge, that's for sure. He just needs to come out and prove he's "the guy."
It's at that time, when Henne proves he is indeed up to the challenge, that we'll likely see the expectation level go way up.
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