I cannot begin to tell you how many e-mails have flooded my Outlook box since the draft, wondering about the dynamics of the looming Chad Henne vs. Pat White competition.
Can I give you one man's opinion?
Don't get too worried about this competition deal. Having witnessed only four rookie minicamp practices I can tell you Pat White has a loooong way to go before he can compete with Henne. And, by the way, Henne has a loooong way to go before he can be considered an NFL starting quarterback.
Thank God for Chad Pennington!
Pennington should be the starter at the beginning of the 2009 season, assuming he is healthy. Where things go beyond that will be determined by Miami's record (are the Dolphins contending in 2009 or so far out of the picture they need to look to 2010?), how well Pennington is playing, and how fast Henne and White are progressing.
But let us forget 2009 for the moment. It is an unquestionable fact the Dolphins are expecting a quarterback transition prior to the 2010 season. It will be either Henne or White if Bill Parcells' plan is followed. I still believe it will be Henne.
Why? He has the superior arm. He has the superior pocket presence. He is not as mobile as White, but neither is he immobile. And I have never seen him overmatched by any situation or circumstance during his 12 months in Miami.
White? You have to understand I've only seen four practices so this will be a fluid and too-early call on a rookie. But unless he has an arm transplant, it isn't likely to get a whole lot stronger. And unless he's about to get a leg extension, he isn't likely to get a whole lot taller.
His arm is good enough, but not great. He sailed quite a few passes during the practices this weekend. His mid-range and short-range throws are excellent. His ability to read and recognize was decent, considering he learned the play only hours before running them. But his deep outs and 9-routes (deep up the sideline) throws were unimpressive to me. They get there, but not with the velocity of a Henne pass.
That does not guarantee White cannot become a better quarterback than Henne and a fine quarterback overall. Arm strength is only part of the equation for an NFL quarterback. But off the blocks, White is behind on both his size (which is important to staying healthy and seeing over the blockers and rushers) and arm strength.
If you are wondering why I haven't mentioned Henne's one-year advantage over White in experience, it's because in 2010 that might not be a factor. White, you see, will see more game action this season than Henne if Pennington continues playing well. Absent a change at the starting job, Henne will sit while Pennington starts. And White will play more than Henne as he contributes to the WildPat spread option package.
Many of you were thrown off by general manager Jeff Ireland's point that White will be exclusively a quarterback at first and would compete with Henne in the future. What about that is troubling? This is what he must say. This is how it must be.
Can you imagine picking a guy in the second round and setting the ceiling at playing only in the WildPat package? The last time that happened was when Cam Cameron announced Ted Ginn Jr., the ninth overall pick, was going to be a special teams guy. It's a disastrous approach.
So Ireland set the bar high for White and, in so doing, gave the rookie something great to shoot for while also sending a message to Henne. The message: You've not won the 2010 starting job yet so don't get all comfortable and cocky.
The Dolphins win all around with their current situation. Henne is motivated. White is motivated. And the team has a great competition in the offing.
If Henne wins the competion, which I predict he will, the Dolphins have a promising young QB as the starter and a backup quarterback, who also has promise but will not be simply holding the clipboard waiting for an opportunity. The backup will be contributing (hopefully) in the WildPat spread option package the Dolphins hope to eventually unleash.
If White wins the competition, the Dolphins have a mobile quarterback with a good enough arm that is obviously so intelligent and sound that he beat out a more experienced player. And the Dolphins still have waiting in the wings a hungry Henne who will be doing all in his power to reclaim something he will see as being rightfully his.
We have a term for this in my country. Win. Win.
By the way, to answer some reader questions, yes, the 2010 Dolphins probably would want a veteran quarterback added to fill out the QB corps. That experienced QB could be Pennington if he's willing to accept a diminished role. Or it could be some other player if Pennington finds an opportunity to compete for a starting job elsewhere. Pennington is currently unsigned for 2010.