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A breakdown of Miami's passing game troubles

The Dolphins passing game is in trouble and not just because inexperienced quarterback Chad Henne is taking over this week.

The Dolphins passing game the first three weeks of the season is ranked 30th in the NFL, averaging a paltry 155.7 yards per game. The Dolphins have only four pass plays of 20 yards or more and only St. Louis has fewer. The Dolphins have zero pass plays of 40-yards or more and that ties them with eight teams for the fewest.

It is no small wonder the Dolphins are struggling now because in today's high-flying NFL, where most teams throw more than they run, the Dolphins aren't throwing the football very well.

Many people believe that will change with Henne at quarterback because he has a strong arm that Chad Pennington did not even before he went on the injured reserve list Tuesday.

I've been telling you and will continue repeating it -- yelling from the mountain tops if I must -- that Miami's receiver corps is more the issue than the QB.

I gave the rundown of Miami's receivers yesterday and intend to do so again today to make more clear to you why this group is not good enough to give the Dolphins an excellent pass offense.

Look at it from a scout's perspective. As Nick Saban used to say, every position has "critical factors" that a scout should weigh to decide if a player can play the position successfully. Since there are no perfect players, no one achieves all the critical factors. But the blue chip players come close.

The critical factors for receivers?

They need great hands: A receiver is nothing if he cannot grasp and hold on to the football.

They need great speed: A receiver must be able to threaten the defense and not only close distance between himself and a backpedaling DB, but then create separation from that DB.

They need great quickness: A receiver must be able to turn and change direction quickly.

They need great ball skills: A receiver must be able to come down with the football when it is in the air and he is being challenged for it by another player, or often, two other players.

They need football intelligence: A receiver must be smart enough to learn the offense, learn the philosophy behind the passing game, learn defenses and recognize coverages. Then he must put all those together instantly on the field -- sometimes before the snap -- so he can adjust and overcome situations accordingly.

They need toughness: Football is a blood sport and everyone has to gut things out at one point or another. A receiver needs to stay on the field when he's hurt. He needs to be willing to block, because a great blocking receiver can turn 12-yard running plays into 62-yard running plays. He needs to be willing to expose his body against bigger players across the middle of the field when necessary.

So let's go to the elite, the best of the best, and see how that kind of player sizes up. Let's break down Andre Johnson, who I believe is among the best if not the best WR in the NFL today. He's also a fellow alumnus of Miami High and the U so I have to show him respect for that.

Hands? Johnson has good hands. Yes, he's had a couple of fumbles in his career, but never more than one per season. He typically catches with his hands and not his body and when the ball touches his hands, it typically sticks. 

Speed? Johnson runs in the low 4.4s He has no issue getting behind defenders. He never gets caught from behind.

Quickness: Despite his size, he can change direction and it does not take him forever to get started, something a certain Miami receiver has issues with.

Ball skills: Seldom is there a ball in the air that he must fight for, that he doesn't claim. Ask Yeremiah Bell about that one on that fateful fourth-down play last year.

Football intelligence: The Hurricanes ran a pro-style passing game and he had no problems picking it up. The Texans run a fairly complex pass game and Johnson is nails at recognizing adjustments and blitzes. He gets it.

Toughness: Johnson has had some injury issues, but not lately. The guy is 225 pounds of chiseled flesh that imitates granite. His downfield blocking is one reason rookie Steve Slaton gained 1,282 yards last season. And yes, Johnson goes across the middle and often initiates the contact with defenders.

So that's the breakdown of an elite guy. Now let me give the breakdown of Miami's top three receivers so you can understand why the Dolphins are struggling with their passing game and desperately need upgrading here.

Ted Ginn Jr.

Hands: Good until this year, but lately inconsistent. He dropped two touchdowns vs. Indianapolis, including the game-winner and let two balls get into his body, rather than catching them with his hands vs. San Diego. Those resulted in drops. So this season he's average here at best.

Speed: Ginn has elite speed and easily breezes through the 4.3 range. But it takes him a while to get going. He's a long-strider.

Quickness: Very little here. Ginn doesn't change direction like, say, Davone Bess. Study them together. The gulf in quickness between them is startling.

Ball skills: Offensive coordinator Dan Henning said something telling last week when he claimed Ginn would come down with the game-winner vs. Indy "five out of 10 times." You want a receiver who is better than 50 percent. You want 70-80 percent.

Football intelligence: We are in Year 3 and Ginn is said to still be perfecting the art of running routes. Enough said.

Toughness: If you've seen him play, I don't need to say anything here, you know the deal.

Davone Bess

Hands: The guy caught 293 passes in three seasons at Hawaii. He had 54 catches as a rookie and there was never a complaint about how he caught the ball. Great!

Speed: Bess is a 4.6 to 4.7 guy in the 40-yard dash. And that is the reason he's not an elite receiver. He will catch every ball and make somebody miss. But he can't run away from defenders.

Quickness: I just told you he'll make somebody miss. That's because he can change directions on a dime. Very good.

Ball skills: Above average in that Bess comes down with his fair share of contested passes.

Football Intelligence: Ace again. He's human and he misses some reads, but the guy knows to find an open area in the defense.

Toughness: Bess was a street kid, so he obviously doesn't back down from people. But his size limits his blocking. He's got the want-to, though.

Greg Camarillo

Hands: Ace here. Camarillo will catch the balls he's expected to catch and catch some balls that are improbable catches.

Speed: The big flaw again. He ran a 4.6 on a really, really good day before his knee surgery. He won't often get caught from behind, but he's not often behind the defense to test that.

Quickness: OK but not great. Camarillo can change direction but he is taller and lankier so it takes a millisecond longer to get that body moving in a different direction.

Ball skills: While there is no defining catch over a defender that I can remember, neither can I remember a moment Camarillo failed to come down with a catch he had a chance to make. So good enough.

Toughness: He never stops. He's always chugging. He fought back from a serious knee injury and is starting again in less than one year. And he has the desire to block and isn't afraid to run routes across the middle.

There you have it. Miami's top three receivers have traits that keep them on the roster and make them effective in some situations. They are all complementary players. But none is elite. And none is likely to become elite because they all lack important critical factors for that to happen.

Miami needs to add one elite receiver to this group of complementary players to turn this receiver corps from average or below average to very, very good.


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I hope so ,i really would like to see Henne improve and become the " future " QB. Because the alternative is starting all over.

carlito and cuban, i feel chad henne will be the player of the week this sunday .BIG turn around for the team .

Why would anyone bring up the name Saban!?!? Speed and quickness are not the answer to a great receiver...HANDS, being able to catch the friggn ball! That's what makes a receiver....and Ginn isn't the man to do that. All the greats, only needed to get a finger on the ball and they were good to go. They adjusted to the ball....they don't complain about it not being dropped into thier belly....they just need it within reaching distance....able to muscle it out with the defender and come down with a catch....again, Ginn ain't that guy! Bess, Hartline and Cam...we'll see once they start getting drilled with bullets from Henne....

I agree. We lost to some really good teams and made several mistakes in losing them games. If we run alot and throw affectively when needed and play relatively error free, i smell a win against a weak Buffalo team.

Gopats, Who is he going to throw to???dont get down on fat neck if he doesnt throw for more then 150 yds, thats just the way its going to be, though with no game film for the bills to look at(hennes 1st start) you may be right, he might have a good game, I hope so..

Crowder SUCKS.I said it then and will say it again.WE SHOULD HAVE TAKEN RAY MANALOGA or how ever you say it .With our first round pick.He stayed untill round two.Crowder will never play as good as RAY OR the Best of all time Zack attack.

Why does it take uor coaches 2or 3 games to get the right players on the field.Just like lsat year.Its not like they dont have otas and all the two a days.
Then you talk about preseason games.Play your best players not the highest paid.Take the trash off the field.

Go Dolphins!

If Chad Henne finishes the season ranked in the top 10 QB's in the leauge than we have finally solved our Qb position if not he will be just another AJ feeley mark my words. Top 10 or Bust


it's a big chance for the whole team to come out and win big .this way they would say you see we did better w/ henne and blame everything on chad penne so for the team to forward .

henne will have more than 230 yards and neck fat becomes liquid gold .

If you watched the COLTS game. Pennington had several open
receivers down field that were literally waving their arms and yet Pennington checked dow for some strange reason. Henne will throw into tight spaces. Pennington won't. I love Pennington in so many ways and really admire him. BUT he doesn't make a lot of mistakes because he doesn't take ANY chances. Even ones that don't seem like chances. He picks and chooses when he'l take his shots. And when he does, more times than not he is on target. BUT that puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the receivers and leaves no room for errors. Less opportunities. With that said. We are missing a big time receiver. Ginn and Bess would be great filling their roles of second WR and Slot. I would be more than happy to have that. However, we need a Vincent Jackson type. Big, fast, tough and confident. I watched the Eagles Desean Jackson and he is smaller than Ginn yet he plays with a whole other level of confidence and attitude and toughness.

It will be interesting to see how they respond as a team after losing Pennington. I would like to see an overall effort like the 1st half of the Colts game. Playing with heart and a sense of urgency vs Buffalo, a division rival. Despite how Henne does in his first start, I think this is the most important thing we need to see. It will prove that the coaching staff hasn't lost the team and that would be a good starting point for the rest of the season.

moneyjacket say "I love Pennington in so many ways..."

This very creepy thing to read in the morning

Neck fat turns to liquid gold; i hope this becomes the Dolphins slogan from here on funny stuff ill be the first one to keep repeating that if it becomes true. lmao

I agree with Armando but you have to factor in play calling. While Henning is limited to what he has I think even with the right players he play calling lacks imagination.

Armando, you are the bomb. Its nice to see my Dolphins obsession is not just me. Keep up the Great work dude.

Great article Mando! Is there another good WR out there that Dolphins can get! I mean right now! Can they at least get Marvin Harrison? He has good hands that can catch the ball! He is avaialble.

Dolfan's have a voice!!!!

This is the petition to change the Dolphins fight song back

Lets get a million people to sign!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Support the movement!!!!!!!!!!!!

One Name. Boldin. Enough said. Too late now.
Thanks Dolphins Brass!!!!

how about we try to pass the ball? our play calling is horrible. in the red zone of the indy game on a third and six we run up the middle. against the chargers on a second and fifteen we run up the middle. damn at least take a chance once in a while.i know our receivers are bad but at least try for a touchdown instaed of a fieldgoal.

Now that the Dolphins have an arm at QB. No disrespect to Chad for bringing stability. Is the ball going to Travel more that 20 yards in the air.

One name. Henne. All you need to know.

Neck fat turns to liquid gold!

If Henne get Dolphins to Bye week at 2-3 maybe still finish 10-6?

Ginn needs to man up. He pisses me off cause he's scared to get hit & he's too inconsistent. Another wasted #1 pick. Guess we should be used to this.

It's not the passing game that's killing us, it's the SECONDARY!!!

if the dolphins finish 10-6 Henne is the man, if the dolphins finish 2-14 Draft a QB

Dez Bryant or Julio Jones?

What I saw on first play from scrimmage in San Diego was a 60 yd bomb that Ginn couldn't catch up with. Pennintons arm sure looked strong enough on that play. How long is it going to take people to start the squawking if Henne starts throwing ball all over the place but racks up interceptions. I hope it doesn't happen but if it does lets not get all over the kid and give him a chance. I say let ginn run back kickoffs because cobbs gotta be the slowest returner in the league. Maybe if we started some drives around 40 yd line we'd score some more points.

Phinatic, Ginn was drafted by Cam Cameron 2 years ago. At Cameron press confernce he was booed by fans and reporters. They could had taken Brady Quinn instead of Ginn.

Henne is for real. We were 0-3 with Pennington because defenses don't fear his arm. Henne just being on the field should improve the running game because defenses will have to respect the deep threat and the velocity of his passes. Our recievers will have to adjust to the ball getting there much faster & harder. Not good for Ginns petite hands.

Shorter Armando Salguero:

We Blow.

All good comments, and I didn't see last week's debacle, but watched the Colts game start to finish...if you put up 23 points against a team like Indy and give you defense just 15 minutes on the field to hold that lead and they can't, maybe you oughta start worrying about that side of the ball before worrying about the QB or WR positions.

Rather have Ginn then Quinn.

Ted "butterfinger" Gin
Chad "fatneck" Henne
Jake "overated" Long
Miami "will take everyones Back Up QB" Dolphins


Fatneck Turns to Gold: " I hope it does, the sunday BBQ's need some post game celebration.

Brady Quinn is a piece of garbage qb

If Henne does well then he is gonna be great. Any QB that can make plays with our WR Corp has gotta be good. Go Henne, Go Dolphins! Ginn u suck

Got some time this morning so let me answer some questions/comments ....

Several of you are asking about Patrick Turner. Something simply isn't clicking there. Brian Hartline moved ahead of him in the preseason and he hasn't closed the gap.

Coaches were unimpressed with his hands and consistency. I've been told he has a long way to go.

I have a new slogan too...Isrealzion is an idiot...I bet that will catch on quick

Duke, the 3 wise men, as you call them, expect Henne to be quite good. At least they hope he is.

The fact is they also knew they needed another QB because they weren't sold on Beck after watching him for one year. Not saying they are right, but that's their take.

They also believed Pat White would be a better QB than Beck and could be a good NFL QB eventually. We'll see.

Hey Armando;

What is Sparono doing to motivate Hes below average receivers / Qb of future Henne?

can we cut some one just for kicks i mean we are 0-3

Cut Gin & Crowder right now

Daniel, Camarillo's catch in Atlanta was equal parts luck as skill ... In fact, it was more luck than skill.

And therefore, I do not count it as skill.

i feel bad for Chad P, bring him in as asst. QB coach.

don't dare let ginn back on the return team as he gets confused. in the return game all he runs is a 5 yrd out pattern....enough said, i'll take cobbs & bess any day, they play to win not to avoid a freaking hit.

protect henne and watch some fireworks. and please, turner should have been working with henne so far this regular season as a 2nd teamer. any love between henne & turner as yet? and yes, let white play as a slot guy he is too small to block.

ILB, FS & SS had better get their butts in another gear or it will make no difference what the O's do at all !!

What's up finsfan62, you need me to come on here every once in a while and talk to you to make you feel all better?

I was on here for four hours during the live blog Sunday. Where were you?

Israelzion, first off, I love that handle!

Anyway, I think Sparano is going to take the team by the collar this week and make certain everyone understands in no uncertain terms he's in charge and nobody must give up or else.

I don't think they cut folks for kicks. But he'll get his message across.

ok, i'll take hartline then mando. kid looks like he wants to play.

Mando, how bad will the Bills blitz henne on Sunday to confuse and rattle him??

See that many of you are talking about that opening bomb vs. San Diego.

I was told the team practiced that play nearly a dozen times during practice last week ...

And connected only 50 percent of the time. In practice.

Thank you, Ericatl. Will.

What up, harricane? Who do you like Saturday?

OU or The U?

Armando ,
How does a player miss a potential game winning catch and follow it up by missing every pass thrown his way the next week...does he not practice catching, dont the coaches get on him. I see that as inexcusable. I could not get away with that at my work and i dont make millions to screw up my job.

Cuban, I'm sure the Buffalo defense is thinking it will be able to confuse Henne. I gotta tell you, to hold New Orleans like they did is pretty impressive.

But I just don't see an injured Buffalo team coming to Miami and beating the Dolphins.

Of course, I didn't see the Dolphins being 0-3, either. I suck.

Blog Poll: should Chad Pennington hang it up or try for another comeback?

Steve, I assure you the coaches see the warts with Ginn. I assure you the front office knows he's not elite.

But there is nothing or next to nothing that can be done about that now except keep working the player. Nobody is looking to trade an elite WR right now.

Thanks Mando, and by the way lets cheer our little brothers at the"U" and bring home a "V"....

Wow, cuban, you and me on here at the same time. Proof we are not the same cubiche.


you know who i want to win. that said, canes looked really slow in the rain, especially o-line & JH. hope they get it together like against GT & they can win this thing. D-line played well all 3 games. like the fins, the secondary failed against VT. agree?

Thanks Armando, Love the blog, sorry for your recent loss.

Dishpan, not dealing with your crap today. You're deleted.

I can't argue with the fact that the receiving corp to date is subpar, but the lack of a pass rush and poor secodary is a bigger concern. So what if we get better receivers. Do we want to get into shootouts everytime we play?

Gotta agree Armando about the Camarillo catch, def more luck than skill!!!
As for Chad Henne, I fear for him this weekend unless he produces as some of the idiots on here either already have their steak knives out ready for the kid or have false hopes of a winning season.
To the guy who said 2-14 draft a Qb next year, good job Indianapolis didn't do that with Manning eh.
Lets be realistic here, you gotta look for Henne to get better each week regardless of the record and if its a winning record too then bonus, with our receiving core I just fear the worst, Buffalo will blitz his ass off until he makes em pay or crumbles so lets hope he gets helped out by the O-line and Ricky/Ronnie.
I for one think he'll be ok at first then get better as the season goes on, no false expectations, yet!!

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