The year was 2008 and Miami, coming off a 1-15 season in 2007, was set to revamp the quarterback room under the new combination of Bill Parcells and Head Coach Tony Sparano
And with the 57th pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select: Chad Henne, QB Michigan
Chad Henne: College Prospect
Chad Henne was such an interesting college prospect coming out of college, particularly because of his arm strength, down field accuracy and durability.
Though he had a strong arm and durability going for him, that draft overall was widely believed to be the Matt Ryan draft. Honestly, outside of Matt Ryan, there really was no consensus ranking. Brian Brohm, Joe Flacco and Chad Henne were all tossups across the remainder of the top four spots.
When you look at his body of work in college, Chad Henne showed you not only what I’ve already mentioned, having a strong arm and durability, but that he would also provide a consistent presence under center.
In fact, one could argue this was something going against Henne. Over his four years in college, Henne never really changed – which is to say that in some ways Henne never really improved as a passer.
If you look at his stat line each year of his collegiate career – but hid the year from view – you’d be hard pressed to figure out which season was which. Actually, here’s that exact scenario:
What you see is a player that, outside of missing a few games his Senior year, was very consistent. Little variation exists amongst touchdowns, interceptions, passer rating and even completion percentage. While on the surface this level of consistency looks promising, the concern here is that he also didn’t show much improvement. While stats aren’t everything, they do begin to tell a story.
As for college accolades, Henne was selected to the First (2007) and Second (2006) Team All-Big Ten, was a Manning Award finalist, and was even named the MVP of the 2008 Capital One Orange Bowl.
As Will Smith once said, Bienvenidos a Miami
It was clear right away why Miami felt the conviction to draft Chad – solid college numbers, big arm, durable and played against strong competition. It went even beyond all of that though – he also checked all of the boxes according to then head of football operations Bill Parcells and his rules for drafting a QB:
- Be a three-year starter ✓
- Be a senior in college ✓
- Graduate from college ✓
- Start 30 games ✓
- Win 23 games ✓
- Post a 2-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio ✓
- Complete at least 60% of passes thrown ✓
Like many other fans, and Bill Parcells (probably), I was THRILLED when the Dolphins selected Chad Henne in the second round. After a year of, let’s call it challenging quarterback play in 2007, the future was looking bright.
What fans like me didn’t know was that another Chad would be coming to town that August. More on that in a future edition of Breaking Chad.
During the 2008 season, as the primary backup to Chad Pennington, Henne would go on to complete 7 out of 12 passes for 67 yards. As an aside, his stats were a lot higher in Madden for me that season!
Year Two: The Primary Starter
Fast forwarding to September 2009, Chad Henne was about to get his first start in place of an injured Chad Pennington. Taking over an 0-3 team is never easy – doing so with very little professional experience makes it even harder.
Over the course of the 2009 season, Henne would start 13 games overall, finishing with a 7-6 record. He completed 60.8% of his passes while throwing for 2878 yards, 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Overall, this was not the start that Chad, the Dolphins or the fans were looking for.
Year Three: Established Starter
As 2010 approached, and with Chad Pennington signed to another one year deal, Chad Henne fought hard to hold onto the starting quarterback job – and succeeded.
Unfortunately for Henne, the 2010 season was quite similar to his 2009 season, finishing with a 6-8 record. As was the case in college, Henne’s 2nd season as a starter was consistent with his first, completing 61.4% of his passes while throwing for 3,301 yards, 15 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. Again, not the outcome he was looking for.
Year Four: Injured Reserve
While 2011 got off to a great start for the fourth year pro (and third year starter), Henne would only play in four games before being lost for the season with a dislocated shoulder. This would be his final as a Miami Dolphin, being supplanted by Matt Moore in 2011.
Henne would go on to sign a two year contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars before the 2012 season.
As we reflect now on the story of Chad Henne, it’s important to acknowledge both the excitement that we felt when he was drafted as well as the ultimate disappointment when it didn’t work out.
His story is fascinating in that he came in during a very strange time for Miami – coming off a 1-15 season and sitting behind one of the most accurate quarterbacks of all time – but never really putting it all together. And credit where credits due – the Miami Dolphins did exactly what you’d hope a team would do which is to do whatever you can to find your quarterback.
Ultimately, while he may have checked all of Bill Parcells boxes, you never truly know how it’s going work out when you draft a player. You can look for signs, like four years of relatively consistent performance, but then it’s up to opinion on what that means.
In the end, all was not lost for Chad Henne – he’s gone on to have a very long career as a backup quarterback, heading into his 13th season here in 2022. He’s been a stabilizing force in quarterback rooms and a mentor to many along the way. The epitome of consistent.
One last note that I want to add is that Chad Henne is also now a Super Bowl Champion – let’s go! – having won the Lombardi trophy as the backup to Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LIV.
Here’s to you Chad, forever a Miami Dolphin!