The Dolphin Report

By Ron Poltorack

THE MARSHALL PLAN PUTS THE HEAT ON HENNE

The Dolphins went all out this off-season acquiring superstud receiver Brandon Marshall in what is their version of The Marshall Plan. And as Dolfans eagerly anticipate the 2010 season with the best receiver on the roster in at least 2 decades, it is hoped this season will be a coming out party for Chad Henne, the Fins’ most recent QB of the future. Entering his third season and his second as the starter, it is Chad’s time to shine.
The plain truth is that with Brandon Marshall, who has grabbed 100+ receptions in each of the last 3 seasons, Henne will have no excuses if he doesn’t succeed. He finally has that premier receiver to throw the ball to when he drops back to pass. If Marshall doesn’t catch 100 balls this year, it won’t be due to his lack of ability. So the heat is squarely on the shoulders of Chad Henne. With the heat on him, Henne has a chance to really blossom into a top-flight NFL quarterback, to shine in the South Florida sun where no one has done so since Dan Marino was pushed into the sunset.

There is no doubt that The Marshall Plan was designed to resurrect the passing game which, if successful, will be a great compliment to the skilled running of Ronnie and Ricky. But even great receivers still need a quality QB to get them the ball. Look at former Dolphin Wes Welker. While he showed talent when he lined up in aqua and orange, it was only after he had Tom Brady throwing him the ball that he truly became a star. In 2006, when he was on the receiving end of that great Fins’ QB tandem Joey Harrington and Daunte Culpepper, Welker had 67 receptions for 687 yards and 1 TD. The very next season with the Patriots, where Tom Brady was throwing him the ball, he had 112 receptions for 1175 yards and 8 TDs. That stark increase in his production wasn’t because he suddenly got that much better running routes or catching the ball. It was merely a reflection of what Wes Welker was truly capable of accomplishing with a real NFL quarterback getting him the ball. With the arrival of Marshall, the Fins have the opposite situation. They have a proven superstud receiver who will now be paired with an as-yet unproven QB.

That is why the Fins’ Marshal Plan places all the heat on Chad Henne. If he shines, he will be the toast of the town for the next decade-plus. If he doesn’t, his second round draft pick two years ago will be viewed as the latest failed attempt to find the franchise quarterback, a void that has existed since Number 13 retired.
No doubt Brandon Marshall gives Henne the chance to shine, but Henne needs to prove he can shine. If he doesn’t, no one will think any less of Brandon Marshall; Marshall has proven himself. Now, it’s Henne’s time to prove himself. Here’s hoping he proves himself worth a big-time contract extension, which is what he will get next off-season if he proves himself during this season.

A look at Chad Henne’s history suggests that he will indeed shine. At Michigan, an injury to the starter suddenly thrust him into the Wolverines’ starting job as a true freshman. With Braylon Edwards as his go-to guy that season, Henne proceeded to lead Michigan to a share of the Big 10 title. And Brandon Marshall is no step down from Braylon Edwards. From a size standpoint, he is a little bigger as Marshall checks in at 6’4”/230 lbs. while Edwards is 6’3”/215 lbs. From a production standpoint, Marshall far exceeds Edwards over their last 3 seasons. Marshall has 307 receptions for 3710 yards and 23 touchdowns while Edwards has 180 receptions (127 fewer) for 2842 yards (868 fewer) and, to his credit he also has 23 touchdowns. Chad Henne should be licking his chops at the opportunity to have Marshall as his prime target. Let Mark Sanchez have Braylon Edwards; Henne will gladly take Brandon Marshall over his former Wolverines’ teammate.

And so with training camp fast approaching, the summer heat not only bears down at the Fins’ training facility in Davie, but it squarely falls on the shoulders of Chad Henne. This franchise needs Henne to stand up, withstand the heat and declare that he is the Fins’ QB of the future.

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