I didn't get to watch the game until about 10 o'clock last night. Thankfully, I had set my DVR to record it. When I turned on the game, I immediately felt like I was watching the beginning of the 2010 season. Henne throws an interception on his first pass of the 2011 season. The Dolphins interior line collapses and our runningback runs into a wall of linemen, both offensive and defensive. Henne throws another interception on a miscommunication.
But, like I always do, I watched the plays a second time. I slowed it down. I tried to look at the big picture. And what I saw, most noticeably, was the progression of our young, talented quarterback.
That's what Henne is:
He looked like a fool when he threw his fist interception well behind Fasano. The blame for that play shouldn't really go to Fasano. If that play is late in the third quarter of the Wild Card round of the NFL Playoffs, I want Fasano's head mounted on the practice bubble's gate. But when it comes from a quarterback under no pressure, early in a preseason game, Henne shouldn't be botching an easy 7 yard pass to his tight end.
But that's the key phrase: early in a preseason game. I can't take Henne's two interceptions too seriously. As much as some fans dislike the preseason, it does serve a purpose. It allows the starters to shake the rust off. Of course, it's also a time for undrafted rookies and late round draft picks to earn a roster spot. But, thankfully, it also allows for starting quarterbacks to go out and throw multiple interceptions without having ANY impact on the regular season whatsoever.
So, when I took a look at Henne's time on the field, I noticed a few things other than his mistakes. I saw growth. I saw confidence. I saw tremendous improvements in multiple aspects of his game. Checkdowns looked crisp. He looked more comfortable in the pocket.
Yeah, that's how much it improved, IMO. That was one of the first things I was planning to look for, and I saw it. But his improved proficiency with the play-action pales in comparison to the emotion that I saw.
Henne no longer looks like a robot.
I saw him mobile in the pocket. I saw him shrug off defenders. He actually looked quite athletic when he took off for a ten yard scramble up the middle of the field. After his first interception, he looked calm and collected. But after his second interception, he ripped off his helmet on the sideline. Maybe i'm just not paying attention, but I can't recall one time in his NFL career that I have seen Henne rip off his helmet on the sideline. And here he is, showing passion and emotion in a preseason game.
And it's no coincidence that his ten yard scramble came on the series directly after his second interception. He looked like he simply wasn't going to allow the Falcons defense to stop him. I don't care if it was the Falcons first team defense or the Bills third string defense, the preseason is about getting out on the field and making plays for the coaches to evaluate.
And, hopefully, the coaches see what I saw in Henne: confidence and passion. Because those two qualities are going to take Chad Henne from the level he played at in 2010 to the level that the Dolphins truly need now in their quarterback.
After watching the Dolphins last night, i'm excited to see what they do next week against Carolina. I'm interested to see Sparano's reaction and how that translates to the practice field. Will Matt Moore actually see more snaps with the first team? I hope not. I would rather have given Tyler Thigpen a chance to compete with Henne than to see Dolphins fans go through another public love affair with a backup quarterback.
Whatever happens, I don't think Matt Moore overtakes Henne. If we were basing the quarterback position off of last night's performance, Matt Moore is the starter. He had a better game. But the fact is, it's preseason. The final score has as little to do with the game as Lydon Murtha will have to do with the left tackle position in the regular season. Maybe less, since Murtha is actually looking quite good. And on that note, I will simply say...
GO DOLPHINS IN 2011!