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A Closer Look at Chad Henne

This might be the most talked-about selection of Miami's entire draft, so let's dig a little deeper and talk about the kind of player Chad Henne is.

First, here's what I know of Chad Henne.  I know that he's a tough SOB, playing through injuries (like separated shoulders) quite frequently.  I know that Henne does have a cannon for an arm.  Seriously, some of his "laser-like" throws are impressive to watch, though his arm isn't quite as strong compared to John Beck's (based on the radar gun test at the Combine).  So he certainly has the arm strength to make every single throw and his deep ball is sometimes considered a thing of beauty.

I also know that he's a big, strong guy.  He won't need to add weight or anything to help his body hold up to the beating that the NFL could give a young quarterback.  And I also know that Henne is a workaholic much like John Beck is.  So one thing you are not going to have to worry about from our QBs is their work ethic and dedication.

As far as negatives, I know that he isn't very mobile and his accuracy can get away from him at times.  He also tends to hold the ball too long, taking a sack when the ball should already be out of his hands.

But all that is just scratching the surface of Chad Henne.  Let's go a little deeper.

First off, some say that the two most important predictors of NFL success for a QB are career college starts and completion percentage.  And when you put that to the test , you'll notice that the college QB with 40+ starts and a completion percentage in the 59% to 69% do tend to fair much better than those QBs who have just 20-30 starts.  Where does Henne fall in this?  He started 47 games at Michigan and had a career completion percentage of 59,7%.  And for his closest comparison in terms of those two numbers along, it would be Carson Palmer.  Palmer came out of USC with 45 career starts and a 59% completion percentage.  I'm not saying Henne is as good as Palmer, I'm just making an observation.

One of the major criticisms you hear about Chad Henne is how he "struggles" in big games.  People always point to his 1-7 combined record in bowl games and against Ohio State.  However, it's a good sign that his last game was a victory over Florida in that Capital One Bowl.  But I did want to just show you his numbers in these 8 games so you can see how the loss can't be blamed on just Henne:

Game Com Att Yds % TD Int Yds/Att Sacks
@ Ohio St. 2004 27 54 328 50% 2 2 6.07 1
Rose Bowl vs Texas 04/05 18 34 227 52.9% 4 0 6.68 1
vs Ohio St. 2005 25 36 223 69.4% 1 0 6.19 1
Alamo Bowl vs Nebraska 05/06 21 43 270 48.8% 3 1 6.28 4
@ Ohio St. 2006 21 35 267 60% 2 0 7.63 4
Rose Bowl vs USC 06/07 26 41 309 63.4% 2 1 7.54 6
vs Ohio St 2007 11 34 68 32.4% 0 0 2.00 3
Capital One Bowl vs Florida 07/08 25 39 373 64.1% 3 2 9.56 3



I do want to note that Chad played that final Ohio State game with a bum shoulder.  Also notice how Chad was sacked 23 times in 8 games.  Could that have had anything to do with the losses? 

If you average out those stats, Henne's average performance in those 8 "big games" was: 22/40 (55%), 258 yards, 2.12 TDs, and 0.75 Ints.  That's not too bad at all, considering that takes into account his terrible game against Ohio State this past year when he was playing hurt.  So I think to say he is a bad player in "big games" is not exactly a fair statement.

Next, since I'm not as familiar with Henne as Michigan fans are, I wanted to highlight some parts of the very best Chad Henne scouting report you will ever find.  I linked to it a few days back.  It was written by Dave of Maize N Brew , SB Nation's Michigan blog.  I'll now go through and just highlight some of the key points Dave touches on.  I do highly recommend that you do go check out the full article.

Dave's opening to the scouting report is more or less exactly what Dolphin fans want to hear:

Henne completed his Michigan career as the statistical leader in just about every offensive category a quarterback has any business rating in. Completions, Attempts, Yards, TDs, etc... He possesses an arm that seems like it was touched by Zeus himself and is tougher than a sack of bricks, but sometimes seems like he's just about as mobile. Henne is not a mobile quarterback. He will never be a mobile quarterback.

What he is, is the best drop back passer in college football. He can make every throw. He reads defenses. He knows when to check from a run to a pass. And he knows how to manage a game. Any team that drafts Chad will get a game ready quarterback with a big arm and boatloads of experience and talent.

Moving along, Dave does rave about Henne's arm:

Henne throws the best deep ball I've ever seen. Whether he's lofting it on the solar winds, waiting for it to glide back down to earth, or launching a 40 yard PRG that has absolutely no arc, Henne can get the ball downfield in ways I haven't seen out of any other college quarterback. Give him a deep threat. Randy Moss would love this guy.

And it's not just deep stuff. Henne throws the ball well all over the field and is especially adept working the sidelines. He has a knack for putting that 20 yard pass right on the line where only his receiver can catch it. Frankly, he throws all the distances relatively well, though his short and long passes are superior to his intermediate routes.

However, Dave does talk about Henne's inconsistent accuracy, which apparently is only an intermediate problem:

One of Henne's strangest weaknesses was his inability to consistently deliver a catchable mid range pass 12-20 yards out. Anything over 20, generally perfect. Anything under 12, generally perfect. 15 yards? 50% at best. And by 50% I mean, half the time it wasn't anywhere near its intended target, and the remaining 50% was broken down into his normal distribution of passing. It generally wasn't pretty. I'm willing to give him a little leeway because Manningham absolutely refused catching anything in traffic and Michigan's tight ends were either suspended or the equivalent of tackling dummies in the flats, but Michigan lived and died on the short and long passes and the mid range stuff was iffy.

Dave closes his report by pointing out all the negatives that critics get on Henne about.  But he writes this:

Chad still a four year starter at Michigan. He owns or shares almost every major quarterback record at Michigan. His teammates love him. He never, never got into trouble. Lloyd Carr, who coached NFL golden boy Tom Brady, raves about Henne in a way he never raved about Brady. He's incredibly tough and controls his team in an even tempered manner similar to Eli Manning, just without the "I'm a total doofus" look on his face. He the type of quarterback who can take over a game when he's allowed to by his coordinator.

That sounds good to me.

One last thing I want to add.  Many of you know that I am a big John Beck supporter.  And that hasn't changed.  However, that doesn't mean that I'm hoping Chad Henne fails.  The bottom line is that I want the Miami Dolphins to win.  I don't care if the QB leading us to the wins is John Beck, Chad Henne, Josh McCown, or anyone else.  So just because I am a Beck supporter, don't think that means I'm against Henne.  I'm not. 

With that said, I do want to point out one thing in response to the idea that Beck's days are numbered.  Back in 1983, Bill Parcells inherited a QB named Phil Simms.  Parcells decided to bench Simms that year, leading many to think Phil's days in NY were over.  Of course, the following year, Phil throws for over 4,000 yards and in 1986, leads Parcells' Giants to a Super Bowl victory.  My point?  Don't think that John Beck's days in Miami are over already.  This regime isn't that stubborn nor that stupid.  If Beck goes out there and simply outplays the competition (like I think he will), then he will be the opening day starter.  And if he plays well (and "well" is a relative term), he'll remain the starter.  That's the bottom line.  The best players will play, and that includes the QB spot.

Also, John Clayton seems to be thinking along the same lines as me, writing:

The bonus was getting Michigan's Henne with the 57th pick. The fact that Miami didn't take Henne at the top of the second round was a vote of confidence for John Beck.

So welcome to Miami, Chad Henne.  Despite what some think, I am actually happy you're here.  Now go battle for that starting job and may the best QB win!!