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Miami's curious offense? Dan Henning responds

If you read the headline and it doesn't make sense, that's probably because you haven't read the initial post on the topic, just below this one.

Please do that now. If you don't want to and just want the synopsis so you can get right into Dan Henning's response then here it is: I posted that it doesn't make sense to spread the ball around to eight or so guys on offense when only two or three -- Ronnie Brown, Chad Pennington, Ricky Williams, Ted Ginn Jr. -- are truly dangerous playmakers.

I wrote the Dolphins should find a way to feed their best offensive players, even at the expense of other so-called weapons like Davone Bess and Anthony Fasano. I'm not saying shut down Bess and Fasano, but let's get our priorities straight.

And I wrote the Dolphins should be more stubborn in doing what they do well -- which hasn't been a lot from what we've seen the past two meaningful games vs. Baltimore and Atlanta. If you're going to lose, go down doing what you do best, not that thing you do third of fourth best.

Well, the timing of the post is good because on Thursdays the Dolphins coordinators speak to the media. So I and other reporters asked Henning about these issues.

On the subject of letting the defense dictate to his offense, more commonly known as taking what the defense gives you this is what Henning believes:

"I think anybody ... you better have a very, very good [offense] to think you're going to go out and impose your will on the opposition. People are too good in this league. There are too many resources with tape and video to be able to know what you're doing and how to stop it. If you have a great running game, they can stop a great running game. I mean, we stopped last week a very good running game in Atlanta. I don't know if they were No. 1 or No. 2 but we stopped them. We only gave them 68 yards.

"In the meantime Atlanta said, 'Well, if you're going to stop that, we'll take this.' And I think everybody has to have that package that way. If you don't, you're going to be stubborn and you're going to lose some games you should win. And you're going to win some games you should win automatically. I believe you have to have packages where you have certain plays you like based on your personnel and then you have counters to those plays -- whether they be reverses, counter traps, counter plays from the particular play your featuring. Then you see what they do and how they're trying to stop your featured players and build into them. What happens is sometimes those counter plays do better than your basic plays. That don't make any difference as somewhere along, you move the football. Because they're trying to take that away, they give you the big one. Last year, that's what happened to us a number of times with the Wildcat operation and even in some other areas where we would run some reverses with Teddy and so forth.

"Then all of the sudden, people say, 'Why don't you do that more? Why don't you make the trick play your base?' Well, the trick play don't work unless you got something to make them stop some strong part of your offense over here."

Salguero response: So your offense can only do one thing well? Why can't you run the ball with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams and throw the ball well on a number of varied routes to Ginn?

On the subject of getting the ball more to Brown and Williams, the topic that really, really bugs me most:

"Now, you didn't include Pat Cobbs in there," Henning said. "We have those three backs. We have a tight end everyone wants to get the ball to and last year we had David Martin on top of that. Then we have Bess, and Camarillo and Teddy. And if you get 60 snaps a game and you're ahead in the game, let's say you're ahead in the game, the last 15 snaps will be runs, they're not going to be passes. So the first 45 have to split up between about eight guys. OK?

"You put eight into 45, what are we going to get here? How many carries are we going to get? If you're running the ball well and you're ahead, Ronnie and Ricky are going to get a lot of balls. If you get behind in the game -- like we only had 12 snaps with 22 minutes gone in the game -- you have to determine what do we want to do. We have a couple of things in the Wildcat. We have a couple of things with Pat White. We have a couple of things we haven't even explored yet with Chad Pennington. Well, my intentions are usually to try to leave the ball in the hands of Pennington and try and get the game back in synch and utilize Pat White and the Wildcat in the featured places we like to use them ...

"...That's the way the game's played. You feel fortunate, I feel fortunate, I've never been on a team with three backs as good as these three. Now I've been on a team with maybe a back -- I remember William Andrews when I had him with Atlanta and he's the best back I've ever coached and I was with John Riggins -- but three  guys that can do what these three guys can do, run, catch and block, we're fortunate to have them. At the end of the year if between the three of them we have 2,000 yards, I'll be happy. Now last year we had [1,623 yards rushing] with those guys. And we had 60-something catches between David and Fasano and that was a good blend. Then we had three receivers who caught almost 55 a piece -- Teddy, [Camarillo] and Bess. So we spread it around pretty good.

"So I'll say this to you and you asked my philosophy: If you've got a stud, I learned this from Hayden Fry 37 years ago. He gave a talk on the FTS offense. that was the heading for his talk. And I looked at it and said, 'What the hell is the FTS?' He said the FTS is Feed The Stud. He was at SMU, he had one good player. So he played him at quarterback, at receiver, he played him at running back ... If you have a stud, you better get him the ball."

Salguero response: Patrick Cobbs is a nice player, but please don't equate him with Brown and Williams. Don't insult us that way. Also, Miami studs are Ronnie and Ricky, are they not? So why are we talking about throwing to Bess or Fasano in the same sentence?

And does the stud change game to game?

"No, on this team I feel we have a blend of tremendous talent," Henning said. "Now stud, that's a word you go to when you say, 'I have this guy but I don't have a lot of other auxiliary pieces. So I'm going to feed this guy,' you know what I mean? There were times in Carolina we'd feed Steve Smith because he was the stud. In 2004 we got every one of our running backs hurt. Well Steve Smith was hurt also so we fed Muhsin Muhammad and that was the best year he ever had. We fed him because we didn't have a lot of other things going.

"Feed the stud is I got this outstanding talent and I have a blend of people around him and I don't have a lot of other auxiliary pieces. I'm getting the ball to that guy somehow in the course of the game. Right now I think they're all studs."

Salguero response: Cannot disagree more. They are not all studs. Dolphins don't have any studs if you define them the way Henning does. They have several supremely talented players, such as Brown and Williams. But everyone else is an auxiliary player. Why confuse the issue?

The Dolphins don't have eight players that scare a defense. They have Pennington, they have Williams, Brown, and they have Ginn. Get those guys the ball more. Don't ignore the other guys, but don't led Bess catch seven passes while Ginn gets only three.

Prioritize the ball distribution based on who your most talented and dangerous players are. Then feed them. Figure it out.

Your thoughts?