Following the Dolphins win over Buffalo on Sunday, the headlines should be all about a very young but talented Miami defense. Fans should be focusing on new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and his defensive schemes. We should be discussing how Cameron Wake and Koa Misi were disruptive forces all game long. Or about how Karlos Dansby might be the most underrated linebacker in the league. Or about how second-year safety Chris Clemons actually looked like a long-term solution to Miami's revolving door at free safety these past couple of years.
For some reason, though, most Dolphin fans just don't seem to be able to enjoy wins anymore. They don't look at the positives to come out of the game - instead harping on the perceived problems despite winning a season opener for the first time since Nick Saban's debut in Miami. You'd think that after going through a season like we all did in 2007, Dolphin fans would actually take time to savor victories - no matter how they came.
So wouldn't you know that most of the talk since Miami's 15-10 win on Sunday has been centered around their disappointing offensive performance. Of course, that means most of the attention has been centered on the quarterback - the player who usually gets too much credit when his offense plays well and takes too much of the blame when his offense struggles.
I've never seen so many Dolphin fans who seemingly want to bury their starting quarterback; who clearly take pleasure in discussing the struggles of their offensive leader. Unfortunately, that's what many Dolphin fans like myself have had to deal with since Chad Henne's slightly disappointing season opening performance inside a windy (and that was a factor) Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday.
Other than Dan Henning and Brian Hartline - who, by the way, has clearly filled the void left by the departures of Ted Ginn and Gibril Wilson as the most disliked starter on the team (wrongly so, might I add) - it's Henne who has taken the most heat despite doing exactly what a starting quarterback in the NFL should be most concerned with: winning.
After the game, Chad Henne had an excellent little one-liner that probably went unnoticed by most Dolphin fans.
"I did what we needed to win," said Henne.
When pressed further, Henne added, "We won, that's what's important."
I'm not going to pretend to tell you I know what the tone in Henne's voice sounded like when he made those post-game comments. But I'd imagine he was very "robotic" in his responses (shout out to FN, of course).
He also makes a good point. Two years ago, the Dolphins had this other starting quarterback - one who didn't put up ridiculous statistics. But what he did do week in and week out was give his team a chance to win. Does anyone remember that?
Of course I'm referring to Henne's current back-up, Chad Pennington. Though I'm not comparing these two quarterbacks, you have to admit that Henne's play during the game and his comments after the game certainly resemble that of Pennington. And there's nothing wrong with that. After all, that's what this regime is about - minimizing mistakes and doing what is necessary to win.
Still, I understand that many Dolphin fans want to see more out of their young quarterback. I agree that 21 of 34 for just 182 yards isn't going to cut it against some of the better teams in this league. But I can't shake this feeling that if Henne completes that long pass to Brandon Marshall on Sunday (and the more I've read about the game, the more I believe the wind played a major factor in having the ball fall short), we are not having this very conversation right now. What if that ball is completed and Henne's stat line looks more like 22 of 34 for 230 yards? Very different story this week - that much I know,
Stats are only a small part of the story, of course. If you saw the game, then you'd know that Henne had his good and bad moments. And it's too soon to tell how much Henne may have improved since last season. But what I want to remind you all about is just that - last season.
Remember in only his second career start, Henne led a fourth quarter comeback against the number one defense in the NFL on Monday Night Football? Or what about when Henne threw for over 330 yards and two touchdowns en route to yet another fourth quarter comeback - this time against New England?
The kid didn't just suddenly forget how to play football - no matter how much some fans want to believe that to be the case. He's the most physically gifted quarterback this franchise has had since "you know who." And that's part of the problem, too. The sooner us Dolphin fans can realize that we're never going to have another quarterback like Dan Marino - ever - the sooner we can look at the positives of our current young signal caller and get excited over what may be to come.
I'll be honest - it took me a while to warm up to Chad Henne. But his play last year convinced me that he can be a very good (and eventual top 10) quarterback in this league. I was that impressed with his play last year after being suddenly thrown into the starting role.
I'm not about to let one average performance in the season opener change my mind. You shouldn't, either.