Tag:Reggie Bush
Posted on: October 5, 2011 11:17 am
Edited on: October 6, 2011 4:59 pm
 

Film Room: Panthers vs. Saints preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



The Saints are 3-1 but it’s the 1-3 Panthers creating most of the chatter. Or, Cam Newton creating the chatter. Through a quarter of his rookie season, the No. 1 overall pick is, in a word, sensational. But obviously not perfect. The Panthers are still dwelling in the basement of the NFC South.

Here’s a comprehensive look at Newton and his club as they head into their first divisional showdown of the season.



1. How good is he, really?
Through four games, Newton has far exceeded all expectations. Remarkably, this includes expectations about his physical talents. We knew the 6’5”, 245-pound Auburn Tiger was an athletic monster, but rarely are quarterbacks still athletic monsters once they reach the NFL. Newton has been a productive runner, both with power and speed.

He’s a poor man’s Vick when it comes to eluding tacklers and a poor man’s Roethlisberger when it comes to shedding them. That’s a rich combination considering no other quarterback truly exhibits any of these traits (save for maybe Josh Freeman shedding defenders).

Most impressive, however, is that Newton has not leaned on his athleticism. Operating almost exclusively out of shotguns, he’s been a willing and poised statuesque passer who willingly works through his progressions from the pocket. His decisions are usually capped off by a bullet either downfield, outside the numbers (he has the uncanny arm strength to stretch the field both horizontally and vertically) or, if need be, underneath.

For the most part, Newton’s decisions have been good. He has faced an aggressive blitzing defense in Arizona, a classic 3-4 press defense in Green Bay (playing without Tramon Williams, the Packers kept Charles Woodson outside and blitzed far less often than usual that game) and, most recently, a classic Cover 2 defense in Chicago. He posted a legit 370-plus yards passing against all three of them.

The proof that it’s not all daisies and roses is that Newton also threw crucial interceptions in all three games and came away with a loss. He’s still a rookie and still prone to the occasional blunder. The blunders have been far less frequent than anyone expected, but they’ve been costly nevertheless.

2. Panthers dual tight ends
We assumed that with tight ends Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen, Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski would craft a dink-and-dunk, run-first system. Indeed, the Panthers have kept two tight ends on the field a majority of the time, but often, at least one of them (usually Olsen) has split out, serving essentially as a No. 3 receiver.

This poses serious personnel issues for defenses. Leave your base three-linebacker unit on the field and risk getting burned through the air (Shockey and Olsen have been superb downfield route runners the first four weeks). Use your nickel personnel and you risk getting run on by a team that always has a top-10 running back on the field.

The Saints are one of the few defenses that have an answer for this: strong safety Roman Harper. He is their second best run defender (behind Jonathan Vilma) and a demon in the box. He’s versatile enough to play press man coverage (he’s not particularly good at it, but Gregg Williams feels comfortable using him sporadically in this capacity) or blitz (3.5 sacks on the season).
 
Expect the Panthers in Week 5 to continue to be pass-first with their tight ends. And expect the Saints to not simply react to this, but rather, to attack by changing up what they do with Harper throughout the game in order to get Newton thinking.

3. Running Impact
Newton is the first quarterback since Vick to pose a veritable threat as a runner (Vince Young can’t be counted as a running threat quarterback because he was such a limited passer that defenses could get away with putting nine in the box against him; not a chance that happens against Newton). Having a running threat under center does wonders for your rushing attack.

The Panthers have all the resources to pound teams on the ground – DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are an excellent duo, center Ryan Kalil can lock defenders at both the first and second level, left tackle Jordan Gross is a Pro Bowler and right tackle Jeff Otah flashed his old power against Chicago last week. But for whatever reason, Chudzinski has not gone in that direction. Carolina is averaging 25.5 rushing attempts per game, tied for 18th in the NFL.

Chudzinski would be wise to change this. The threat that Newton poses really opens things up. We saw this on the third play of the game against Chicago last week:


4. What Newton will see from Saints D
The Saints have one of the most aggressive defenses in football – both in terms of execution and presnap disguise. That has a lot to do with the trust Gregg Williams has in his secondary. Jabari Greer is one of the best ball-man corners in the game. Patrick Robinson had a rough Week 1 at Green Bay but has come on the last few outings (he was phenomenal at Jacksonville).

Playmaker Tracy Porter was eased back into action last week – he missed two games with a calf injury – and should see more snaps Sunday. When you factor in free safety Malcom Jenkins’ range, the Saints clearly have the resources to handle a Panthers’ wide receiving corps that is underwhelming outside of Steve Smith.

Dealing with the tight ends might be an issue, but Roman Harper’s versatility could cause Newton to question that matchup at times. How will Newton react when he sees Harper leave Olsen or Shockey and blitz? The simple answer would be, “He’ll throw to Olsen or Shockey”. But if you and I can predict this, so can Gregg Williams.

The Saints are one of the best green dog blitzing defenses in the league. (A green dog blitz is when a linebacker has a running back man-to-man, sees that the running back is staying in to pass protect and so he goes after the quarterback in response.) These blitzes can be hard to recognize because they come unexpectedly and late in the action.
 
When blitzing is not involved, Carolina’s offensive line can contain a Saints pass-rush that has been hit-or-miss early this season (the return of end Will Smith certainly helps). Thus, expect Gregg Williams to go after Newton and get him guessing before the snap. Many of Williams’ blitzes come out of nickel personnel packages. The Saints used their nickel later in the game against the Texans to counter the receiving impact of Houston’s two tight ends (Owen Daniels and James Casey). Don’t be surprised if they refer to their nickel early against the Panthers’ two-tight end offense.

5. The other side of the ball
The Saints have remade their offense this season. It now runs through Darren Sproles and Jimmy Graham. Sproles has been better for the Saints than Reggie Bush ever was (much better, in fact). That could be in part because Sproles doesn’t yet draw the attention that Bush drew. But more than anything, it’s because he has lightning quick feet and an understanding for how to create and exploit spacing in both the run and pass game.

Graham is the dynamic athlete we all knew he’d be after his 2010 debut. It just so happens that the ex-power forward is developing much quicker than expected. He’s a mismatch for any linebacker, has the size to out-position defensive backs and has better hands than Robert Meachem (who is now the fourth option in this pass offense, behind Sproles, Graham and, when healthy, Marques Colston).

Panthers strong safety Charles Godfrey has been stellar in coverage this season and can compete with Graham, but the Panther linebackers (who are really missing Jon Beason) will have trouble with Sproles. Carolina’s best hope is to get pressure on Brees early in the down.

Defensive ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy are capable of embarrassing New Orleans’ athletic but grossly unreliable tackles Jermon Bushrod and Charles Brown. But Brees knows this and is also capable of adjusting.

So who will win? Check our Week 5 NFL expert picks for all the games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: October 2, 2011 11:25 am
 

With Thomas out, Slaton will get a chance

SlatonPosted by Josh Katzowitz

With Dolphins running back Daniel Thomas out with a bad hamstring for today’s game in San Diego, it seems like some pretty good foresight from Miami to have signed the recently-released Texans running back Steve Slaton. Though Slaton was done in Houston, stuck behind Arian Foster, Ben Tate and Derrick Ward, he still has promise.

In his 2008 rookie season, he rushed for 1,282 yards and nine touchdowns, and though he’s been limited the past few seasons because of injuries (and because of Foster’s production in Houston), the Dolphins obviously saw something they liked in Thomas (perhaps to the detriment of current Dolphins back Reggie Bush?).

What they liked, well, coach Tony Sparano isn’t sure yet. He’s only seen him practice twice, after all.

“I see a young player that has good upside and I think that’s a good quality to have here at that position," Sparano said, via the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

After a slow start to the season -- he missed the season opener because of the same hamstring injury -- Thomas has rushed for 202 yards in the past two games, and he’s shown why Miami thought highly enough of him to take him in the second round of the 2011 draft. Sparano has said Bush is still his No. 1 guy, but Slaton, if he’s feeling healthy, could make a mark as well.

"Since my rookie year," Slaton said. "I feel about the same."

By that, he means he feels good. But with the absence of Thomas and cornerback Vontae Davis, who will miss his second-straight game with a hamstring injury, the Dolphins will have a tough time traveling to San Diego to face the Chargers. Even with a newly-charged Slaton in the lineup.

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Posted on: September 29, 2011 11:57 am
Edited on: September 29, 2011 11:58 am
 

Top Ten with a Twist: Most underrated

D. McFadden is one of the league's most underrated players (US Presswire).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

You know all the big-name players, even if they’re past their prime. Guys who once were great and impactful and who were rated exactly as their athleticism required. Now, though, some of those players have begun their descent into the final phases of their career, but fans, remembering their past exploits, still think of them as high-end performers on the field.

Now, they’re making way for players you’ve probably heard of but can’t place. Players who you’ve seen but can’t remember on which team they reside.Players who are overshadowed and under the radar. The players who won’t be considered underrated for much longer.

In this week’s Top Ten with a Twist, we feature the best players who are not as well known as they should be. You can call them underrated and call them under the radar, but their teams and their teammates know how important they are. They are, in fact, some of the best players in the league who aren’t necessarily considered the best players in the league.

10. Sean Lee: He won’t be a name only hardcore fans recognize for much longer. He was just named NFC defensive player of the month after a sensational start to the season (31 tackles, two interceptions, and two fumble recoveries). Lee had knocked long-time starting linebacker Keith Brooking out of the lineup, and with the way he’s playing, you can certainly see why. He has been scary this year.

9. Hakeem Nicks: Considering wide receiver is one of the most glamorous positions in the sport, it’s tough to find a guy who you could call underrated -- conversely, there’s no shortage of players we could consider overrated at this position. But Nicks is one of those guys who doesn’t get the national attention (even though he plays in New York!) of a Calvin Johnson, an Andre Johnson or a DeSean Jackson. And while Nicks might not quite be on the same level as those receivers, he’s close. His 79 catches, 1,052 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2010 is a testament to that.

8. Ryan Kalil: You might have been shocked when the Panthers gave him a six-year, $49 million ($28 million guaranteed) deal before this season to make him the highest-paid center in the game, but those around the league know his value. He’s versatile in pass protection and run-blocking, and he doesn’t get called for holding penalties. Is he the best center in the league? Probably not as long as Nick Mangold is playing, but Kalil is still one of the top guys out there.

7. Vince Wilfork: He gets plenty of attention -- especially when he’s picking off passes and strolling his way back up the field -- but when compared to defensive tackles like Haloti Ngata, Ndamukong Suh or (gasp!) Albert Haynesworth, Wilfork doesn’t get the admiration he deserves. Despite his size -- he very well could be playing in the 400-pound range -- he’s one of the most athletic big men you’ll see. He’s one of the best run-stoppers around, and he’s the anchor of the Patriots defense. You know him, but he still hasn’t made his way to superstar status.



6. Darren Sproles: It was thought that the new kickoff rules would hinder Sproles, and that was probably one of the reasons the Chargers didn’t re-sign him in the offseason. But Sproles has continued to prove his wealth, settling into the Saints backfield, where he’s shown he can still rush (7.4 yards per carry), catch the ball (21 receptions, second-best among running backs) and score (he’s recorded a touchdown in all three games). He’s like a Reggie Bush who actually is effective for the Saints. Oh, and he can still return kicks (sixth in the league among those who have at least five chances) and return punts (second in the league).

5. Tramon Williams: Although he helped the Packers to a Super Bowl, Williams isn’t mentioned in the same breath as the Eagles cornerback trio (Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie) or the Jets duo (Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie). Plus, he plays in the shadow of Charles Woodson, who is still one of the best cornerbacks in the league after 14 seasons. But Williams has shown why he’s a top-10 cornerback. He’s not avoided by other team’s quarterbacks quite as much as Asomugha and Revis -- that’s a byproduct of playing with Woodson -- but he’s shown that when his receiver is targeted, Williams is one of the better cover corners in the league.

4. Rob Gronkowski: Who are the best tight ends in the league? Antonio Gates? That’s true if he’s healthy. Tony Gonzalez? That’s true if this was five years ago. Jason Witten? Yes, he probably is the top tight end out there. But you know who’s really close to him? That’s Gronkowski -- who, in his second season in the league, is one big reason the Patriots offense has been so dominant this season. He was decent as a rookie last season, but he’s exploded for five touchdowns already this year, and with Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez in the lineup in New England, that is a tough, tough matchup for the opposing teams’ linebackers.

3. Brandon Pettigrew: Last Sunday was the perfect example of why Pettigrew can make a Lions fan’s mouth water. He played through a shoulder injury, yet he managed to catch 11 passes for 112 yards in Detroit’s huge comeback victory against the Vikings. He’s probably not on the same level as Witten or Gronkowski, and yes, he drops the easy passes way too much (even if he also makes the spectacular catches). But in his third season in the league, he shows real potential to be a top-five tight end.

2. Trent Cole: He’s always good for between 55-80 tackles a year. He’s always good for between eight and 13 sacks. He’s almost always assured to be making life difficult for whichever offensive tackle who is charged with slowing his momentum. Cole might be the best player many NFL fans don’t know anything about. But this year, he’s off to a hot start in Philadelphia with three sacks. He’s a monster, and even if you haven’t heard his name very much, you can be sure the league’s offensive linemen have.

1. Darren McFadden: Along with Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson, McFadden might be a top-three running back in this league. But since he plays in the black hole of Oakland, he wasn’t discussed as much as those who have lesser talent. That’s changing this year with the Raiders off to a 2-1 start and McFadden performing like the best back in the league. In 2010, McFadden gained 1,664 yards from scrimmage, and through three games this season, he’s rushed for 393 yards and three touchdowns while catching 11 passes for 84 yards and another score. If he keeps playing like that, he won’t belong on this list next year. Because everybody is going to know about him.

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Posted on: September 28, 2011 7:01 pm
 

Dolphins claim Steve Slaton off waivers

SlatonPosted by Josh Katzowitz

It didn’t take long for former Texans running back Steve Slaton to land on his feet with a new team. As Rapid Reporter Chris Perkins writes, the Dolphins have claimed Slaton off waivers, meaning Slaton -- waived on Tuesday -- was only unemployed for a day.

It also means he joins a Miami backfield in which rookie Daniel Thomas has looked good rushing for 202 yards in the past two games and Reggie Bush seems to be slipping down the depth chart after fumbling twice last Sunday.

Slaton had a standout rookie season, rushing for 1,282 yards and nine touchdowns, but he’s been bothered by injuries the past few seasons. But if he’s healthy, he certainly could help complement Thomas.

And what does the signing say about Bush’s future with the team? Maybe nothing and the Dolphins took the opportunity to sign a still young running back who obviously has plenty of talent. Or maybe Miami took a look at the fact that Bush has rushed for 80 yards in three games (and totaled 72 receiving yards) and determined he’s not helping the offense quite as much as he should.

That said, we should point out that coach Tony Sparano said Monday that Bush is still the No. 1 running back. Still, the signing of Slaton probably doesn’t leave Bush feeling completely secure in Miami.

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Posted on: September 24, 2011 10:32 pm
 

Reggie Bush says Saints had fake injury play

Bush: the Giants looked "real bush league" on the fake injury play during MNF. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The biggest story of Week 2 didn't emerge until Monday night, specifically the moment when Giants safety defensive back Deon Grant (allegedly) faked an injury to slow down the Rams' no-huddle offense.

In the ensuing days, Grant defended himself, inexplicably, Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell did not, and plenty of folks have come forward to share their thoughts on what it means to pretend to be hurt.

Next up: Reggie Bush, who admitted that the Saints had a such a play in their playbook (via the Miami Herald): 

“We actually had that before in New Orleans,” Bush said, referring to the fake injury play. “It’s just one of those things when you get those hurry-up offensive teams. I mean, it’s legal. They haven’t made any rules yet to say it’s not legal.

“... For the most part you’re supposed to have a designated guy for that. It’s not supposed to be four or five guys falling on the ground at the same time. Obviously that looks real bush league.”

Faking injuries: everybody's doing it

Remember all the mock outrage in the days and weeks following the Patriots Spygate scandal? And then we found out that, to varying degrees, almost every NFL team taped opponents' signals? Sounds like faking injuries isn't much different.

Don't misunderstand, New England was rightly punished for Spygate. But it's not like they were the only team with a video recorder pointed at the opponent's sideline. And, as Bush mentioned above, the Giants had guys going down like there were snipers in the stands. The takeaway: moderation is the key to avoiding detection and ultimately, league sanctions.

Either way, we're with Ed Reed on the whole faking injuries phenomenon.

“I don’t know if they were pretending, man,” Reed said earlier this week. “Sometimes guys get tired. But it’s all within the game. It’s all tactical stuff that you need to use. Whatever it takes.”

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Posted on: September 12, 2011 4:35 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2011 4:47 pm
 

7-Point Preview: Dolphins vs. Patriots

Posted by Will Brinson


1. Miami Dolphins (0-0) vs. New England Patriots (0-0)
Rumblings started to form on Twitter Monday that the Dolphins are taking a look at David Garrard. Even if this doesn't happen, it is perfect, because the Dolphins are in the middle of their 15th quarterback controversy of the year, and they haven't even played a game yet.

It's a mess in South Beach, theoretically, but there's reason to be hopeful. I continue to believe that Chad Henne can evolve into a good NFL quarterback. He's been freed from the shackles of Dan "Third and Draw" Henning and has been given "full reign" by new OC Brian Daboll to call audibles at the line of scrimmage.

Last season's game in Miami is viewed as a blowout. That's because the Patriots won handily, 41-14. But what folks don't remember is that without a Miami special-teams implosion, this game was actually pretty close.

The Patriots scored on a 103-yard kickoff return from Brandon Tate (no longer with New England) and a Kyle Arrington 31-yard blocked field-goal return. To dump a pound of salt in the wound, Patrick Chung also took a pick 51 yards to the house to finish off the rout. Take away those three touchdowns (I know, I know but just play along) and it's a much closer game in which Henne was respectable before getting pressed into throwing the ball in bad situations.

Add in the fact that he's got more versatile weapons (read: Reggie Bush) than 2010, and it's not unreasonable to expect an alright game out of Henne this evening. Brady, as you may know, is capable of doing damage to other teams.

2. What the Nerds and Degenerate Gamblers Say:
This is kind of amazing: according to Sportsbook.com, 94 percent of the public's money is on the Pats -7. If we were talking about the Pats money line, that's one thing. But we're discussing a seven-point road favorite playing a division rival who's beaten said favorite a bunch of times when they come down to Florida.

Things could go either way, really -- Tom Brady over the last six years (we're going six instead of five since he missed 2008) has vacillated wildly in Miami. In 2006 he went 12 of 25 for 78 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions. In 2007 he went 21 of 25 for 354 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. In that time, though, he's only 3-2 in Miami.

"He’s human, right?" Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake asked of Brady Sunday, per Omar Kelly of the Miami Sun-Sentinel. "He has two eyes and red blood? If you cut him, will he bleed? He puts his pants on one leg a time."

He may actually put his pants on differently and HOW DARE YOU TALK ABOUT TOM'S EYES, SIR? Er, wait, sorry. Yes, Brady is human. He's been vulnerable against the Dolphins in the past and he'll be vulnerable now.

There's no real logic why everyone's slamming their money after New England favored by a touchdown on the road even if they could easily cover, other than "the Patriots are always awesome, win games and usually manage to be flashy and smart while the Dolphins are typically the opposite and quite boring and therefore will lose."

3. Key Matchup to Watch
The aforementioned defensive end, Cameron Wake, is one of the scariest players in the NFL. Were it not for the Dolphins lacking relevance in 2010, Wake probably would have gotten pub as the Defensive Player of the Year in the NFL.

With Wake and Dolphins-turned-Jet-turned-dancer-t
urned-Dolphin Jason Taylor lining up to terrorize Brady, the Patriots offensive line has a serious task on its hands -- both left tackle Matt Light and right tackle (and rookie) Nate Solder, replacing starting right tackle Sebastian Volmer, will require additional help in doubling up on Wake.

Fortunately for the Patriots, they have a pair of tight ends who are capable receiving options and pretty good blockers in Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, so don't be shocked to see lots of two tight end formations out of New England as they look to bolster their pass defense.

If Wake and Taylor crank up the pressure on Brady, the Patriots could be in a for long day, especially considering they aren't typically the type of team that counters quarterback pressure by pounding the rock. Their answer is a dynamic short-passing game that chews up clock and wears opponents down.

It's much harder to pull off if Brady's ending up on his ass every two or three plays and/or doesn't have time to get through his progressions. And when Brady slows his progressions down, the Patriots aren't pushing the tempo and the defense has more time to adjust and, generally speaking, a much better chance of stopping New England.

4. Potentially Relevant YouTube

So, this weekend some ridiculous bizness went down with the Notre Dame-Michigan game, in which roughly 735 points were scored in 10 seconds. Or something like that -- Denard Robinson (he of sure-fire future NFL Draft scrutiny!) led the Wolverines to a stunning victory. He then jumped in the crowd and a weirdo fan decided he need to rub Robinson's arm and share the magic with the world.

In case you're scratching your head, both Tom Brady and Chad Henne went to Michigan and they will need magic from their arms to win tonight. Do you see? (Via Spencer Hall's Alphabetical)



5. The Patriots will win if ...
They can protect Brady and give him time to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers and subsequently control the tempo against the Dolphins. The Patriots passing game was fine in the preseason, but Chad Ochocinco was a bit underwhelming (to say the least) and having him step things up in Monday night's would be pretty typical of how the Pats role with respect to bringing wide receivers and sandbagging their production before the season starts.

6. The Dolphins will win if ...
Reggie Bush makes the most out of his 20 touches. Well, he's supposed to get 20 touches anyway, and it's hard to imagine that if he's successful that this game won't be close. Bush not only can break off explosive plays, but his ability as a passcatcher out of the backfield will be tremendous for Henne -- he provides a safety valve and will keep the Patriots secondary honest and not able to double-team guys like Brandon Marshall.

7. Prediction: Patriots 24, Dolphins 17

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Posted on: September 2, 2011 12:01 am
 

Daniel Thomas continues to need work

D. Thomas has many improvements he needs to make to his game (US Presswire).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

One issue we really haven’t discussed when we’ve written about the Dolphins trading for and giving a two-year deal to Reggie Bush or when we’ve talked about Tiki Barber trying out for Miami or the addition of retread Larry Johnson is how the team feels about second-round pick Daniel Thomas.

Well, when the most exciting thing you’ve done since you were drafted was to have your name attached to a porn event, that pretty much says it all. In other words, Thomas hasn’t done much in training camp.

As told by the Miami Herald, Thomas is having a tough time transitioning to the pro game, as evidenced by the grocery list of improvements Thomas needs to make. That includes being more physical, running with more explosion, being less tentative, keeping his legs churning, getting his pad level lower and keeping his shoulders squared.

"I would say that's about right," Thomas told the paper. "I've just got to lower my pads and trust my blocks and everything like that and I'm trying to get better here at practice and carry it into the next game."

And when Chad Henne and coach Tony Sparano are imploring you -- or, you know, yelling at you -- to hit the hole harder, it’s probably a good idea to listen.

That’s one big reason Thomas played tonight in the Dolphins preseason finale vs. the Cowboys, writes the Palm Beach Post. What Sparano wanted to see the most: improvement by Thomas -- who carried the ball eight times for 36 yards -- on his pass-blocking.

“In the beginning it was overwhelming a little bit,” Sparano said, via the Post. “But (running backs coach Jeff Nixon) has brought him along and he stepped in there pretty good three or four times today.

“This is something new to him, (but) he’s doing it and having success doing it and he knows that’s really going to be what, at the end of this thing, gets him on the field too,” Sparano said. “You know you’ve got to be able to protect the quarterback and I think he’s done a really good job doing that.”

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed</a&gt
Posted on: August 26, 2011 4:25 pm
 

Marino: Henne has talent to be a good NFL QB



Posted by Ryan Wilson

Chad Henne has started 27 games in two seasons for the Dolphins. He completed more than 60 percent of his throws during that time, but had more interceptions (33) than touchdowns (27), a passer rating of 75.3, and Miami twice went 7-9 and didn't sniff the playoffs.

Henne's inconsistency led the Dolphins to look outside the organization for a starting quarterback, and shortly after the lockout ended, they appeared to have Denver's Kyle Orton in their sites although a deal never materialized. (According to the Denver Post, the Broncos failing to convince Orton to redo his current deal was one of the reasons a trade with Miami fell through.) Instead, Miami traded for Reggie Bush and decided to stick with Henne.

In the weeks since, he has faced the wrath of fans and heard rumors of Brett Favre (they're everywhere, it seems), all while trying remain focused on the task at hand. We asked Dolphins great, Hall of Famer and CBS NFL analyst Dan Marino about the Orton rumors, the Bush trade and if Henne can win in Miami.

"As a team, your responsibility is to look and see if you can improve your team in all areas," Marino told CBSSports.com. "I guess [the Dolphins] felt at the time that Kyle Orton -- if they could trade for him at the right number -- might be an improvement [over Henne]. …

"Chad Henne did not have a good year last year but I still think he has the talent to be a good NFL quarterback. It's just a matter of time as far as continuing to put people around him. I think Reggie Bush is going to be a great addition because he's got that big-play ability. One thing it looked like the Dolphins didn't have last year was that quick-strike where they're getting 20 or 30-yard chunks. That's one of the things they've been missing and so far, [Bush] has looked pretty good. And if he stays healthy he can add a lot."

This came up on a recent Pick-6 podcast, although we though Orton would improve the Dolphins' offense more than both Henne and Bush (but as we found out above, the Broncos weren't moving Orton given his current contract).

Henne, Bush and the '11 Fins

CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco writes that it's not all on Henne, though. Miami's offense should be more dynamic because offensive coordinator Dan Henning retired. "I think we will take a lot more chances down the field," quarterback Henne told Prisco earlier this week. "The opportunities for big plays will be there."

They're going to have to be for head coach Tony Sparano to keep his job. The team strung him along early this offseason before eventually signing him to a new contract, but that doesn't mean he's escaped hot seat. As far back as January, team owner Stephen Ross made it clear that the offense the Dolphins put on the field in 2010 wouldn't fly in 2011.

"I've told Tony that to me, I want an aggressive, creative [offense] not playing just to keep it close, where people really are a little more unpredictable," Ross said at the time.

Sparano got the message. Earlier this week, he admitted to Yahoo.com's Jason Cole that conservative play-calling is a thing of the past.

“The people that I worked for before, [low-risk play-calling is] how they approached it,” Sparano said, in a clear reference to Sparano’s former boss in Miami and Dallas, Bill Parcells. “Nevertheless, this game has really changed and it has really changed in our division. If you don’t score points in our division, you’re going to have a hard time winning football games. So we have to do a better job of generating big plays, generating more scores and even though we feel like we have one of the best defenses in the league, we’d like them to play a little less.”

And that's where Bush comes in. "If he gets a little space, he's dangerous," Sparano told Prisco. "As far as doubles, you have to pick your poison with us right now."

Now it's up to Henne to take advantage of his new weapon.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com