Updated 7:40 p.m. ET, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2010
In a year of quarterback swapping, Miami joined the club when head coach Tony Sparano announced that Chad Henne — the purported future of the franchise — would be benched for 34-year-old Chad Pennington, only to see both QBs get hurt in the Dolphins' win over the Titans, bringing No. 3 QB Tyler Thigpen to the forefront.
Sparano despises turnovers, one of the reasons he decided to bench Henne, who has thrown 11 picks this season. Through eight games, only the Panthers scored fewer touchdowns than the Dolphins. Miami had stalled multiple times in the red zone and won games thanks to its defense and kicking, not Henne's arm.
Were the offensive struggles Henne's fault, or are there issues with offensive coordinator Dan Henning? We hear another reason Pennington got the call was to see if a new QB is all Henning needs, or if it is Henne who has let the Dolphins down.
But we didn't get the chance to see if Pennington was the answer. He left the Titans game during the first possession with a shoulder injury.
Sparano was quick to say that the move was "not an indictment on Chad Henne at all. It's not an indictment on his future," and it was Henne who took over when Pennington went down in Week 10. But when Henne left the game with a knee injury of his own after throwing for 240 yards, a TD and a pick, Thigpen got his chance.
Thigpen, a fourth-year veteran. completed 4-of-6 passes for 64 yards and a score, looking very comfortable leading the offense and throwing on the run. He started 11 games for the Chiefs in 2008, winning one, but he had a decent 18-12 TD-to-interception ratio that season. The Dolphins' organization is very familiar with how Henne can handle the offense after 21 starts, and even if Henne is healthy, giving Thigpen a shot may be the best option for the franchise. Especially if they fall out of the playoff picture, they would want to see what Thigpen can do.
Most importantly, Sparano must see where the root of the offensive struggles is — Henning's calls or the QBs making the plays. With Pennington out and Henne's status in question, Thigpen could be the one to help Sparano decide Henning's future in Miami.