In 2008, the Miami Dolphins drafted Chad Henne with their second round selection. After four years of struggles, injuries, and check downs, Henne returns to Miami this year as the Jacksonville Jaguars starter.
Miami Dolphins fans were on a four year roller coaster ride with former "franchise" quarterback Chad Henne. From the excitement of selecting the former Michigan Wolverines quarterback to having him sit his rookie year behind Chad Pennington to him taking over as the starter to the Robot and Checkfdown Chad monikers taking hold to fans being split over him or Matt Moore to, finally, him leaving for the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason, the Henne era in Miami was rough for fans.
Now, Checkdown Chad returns to Sun Life Stadium as the starter for the Jaguars.
"We won some big games with him playing quarterback," Dolphins tight end Anthony Fasano told South Florida Sun-Sentinel reporter Chris Perkins this week, "but we also didn't win enough of them. He battled through some injuries and kind of a roller coaster-type time for us. It's tough."
"He's a very funny guy," Miami quarterback Matt Moore said about his former teammate according to the Miami Herald's Adam H. Bealey. "From what I remember, we just had a good time, joking around about whatever, making fun of [reserve quarterback Pat] Devlin."
Moore, who is serving as rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill's backup this year, began last season as Henne's backup before Henne's Week 4 injury thrust Moore into the starting lineup.
Henne has impressed the Jaguars this year, where he has served as backup to Blaine Gabbert, until the second year starter was lost to injury this year. "His role [was] to be the backup and hopefully mentor Blaine, which he did an unbelievable job," Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey said. "And if he had to step in and take over, he did. And has done it well."
"His experience and leadership and his field command were very important," Mularkey continued, "especially having a young quarterback like Blaine."
Henne is 1-3 over the past four weeks, doubling the Jaguars win total on the season.
Will Henne be looking for revenge this week, facing the team that drafted him and unceremoniously booted him four years later? "There's definitely going to be emotions,'' Henne told the Miami area media during a conference call earlier this week. "There will be a little bit more excitement and everything.''
But, that doesn't mean that Henne hold resentment against the Dolphins. "They gave me every opportunity,'' Henne explained, in the typical fashion that gave him the Robot nickname for his perfect answers. "They drafted me and I appreciate that, but sometimes things don't work out and you move on. I think I learned a lot about myself. I learned about the league and the organization there. I take it as a positive. I appreciate the opportunity down there.''
So does Henne have an issue with how he exited Miami? "As a quarterback, you're always going to be blamed. The head coach and the quarterback are determined by wins and losses and they're going to keep you around if you win. If not, they are going to try to find someone else,'' Henne said. "I'll take the blame because I have no problems taking it, and I can live my life and move on with it. But the most important thing is improving each and every week. Not making the same mistakes and giving yourself a chance at the end.'
"I can't control a lot of things that go on, but you know what, I believe in myself and I know a lot of guys in this locker room believe in me and this organization."
Henne is in the first year of a two year contract with the Jaguars, with $2.6 million due next year. His future with the northern Florida franchise could be determined over the next three weeks. The Jaguars are trying to sort out their quarterback situation before next April's draft. The team picked Gabbert with their first round selection in 2011, and to give up on a top pick that quickly would be shocking. But, Gabbert has never looked comfortable in the NFL, and has really struggled. Could Henne become the Jaguars starter? Could he be using this opportunity to audition for a starting role somewhere else next year?
"As for my future, I'm just worried about the present," Henne said. "I'm worried about this game, and what I can do to help win this game. I just want to play out this season the best I can and show the coaches in this organization that I can be their future, their starting quarterback."
The Dolphins know Henne, and will be looking to force him into the mistakes that plagued his time in Miami. However, the team is also aware that Henne is developing and could pose an issue for them. "He's got the timing down, he's making all the right checks and he's very accurate with his throws, especially on the short and intermediate routes," Miami cornerback Sean Smith told the Palm Beach Post's Brian Biggane this week. "There's a whole lot more confidence compared to when I first saw him."
"I don't doubt [Henne] at all," Moore added. "He seems to have fit in well, he's out to prove to people he can play and he's doing a good job. He's very capable of playing at a high level in this league."
Linebacker Kevin Burnett appeared on The Joe Rose Show on 560-AM Thursday. During his appearance, Burnett discussed the difficulty of facing a former teammate. "When you play somebody who is playing their former team," Burnett explained, "you have to be especially careful, because they will do anything to beat that former team."
Henne may be saying the right things, saying that he isn't looking to do exactly what Burnett says he will be doing, but after seeing former Miami head coach turned New York Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano run around Sun Life Stadium celebrating the Jets win over the Dolphins earlier this year, hopefully the Dolphins don't give Henne the chance to exact that revenge. While Henne is looking to resurrect his career, Sean Smith has already found at least one thing that he doesn't miss about Henne.
"He'll hurt your fingers," Smith said, after having to cover receivers against Henne's passes in practice for four years. "Chad can zip them in with the best of them."
The Dolphins and Jaguars kickoff at 1:00pm Eastern Sunday.