Offensive coordinator Dan Henning handed each of his three quarterbacks a two-sided play sheet late this week and asked them to individually study each section of plays and mark the play in each section the players like most. Each QB was also expected to mark the play he liked second-most and mark, in red ink, the plays he didn't like.
When each QB returns the sheets, they are rarely marked the same.
"They all see the game differently," Henning said. "They see the game in terms of them, not their predecessor or successor."
On Saturday night, as he prepared his own play-call sheet, Henning looked at the answers starter Chad Henne said he liked most. Those are the plays Henning will call against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
If Henne goes out of the game and either Tyler Thigpen or Pat White have to play, then Henning will refer to the answers they gave on their sheets. And he'll try to call those plays, as long as he's got confidence the QBs can run them.
But I digress.
The fact Henning pays attention to the answers Henne gives is important because the offensive coordinator must seamlessly transition from the plays he used to call for Chad Pennington to the ones he now calls for Henne. And the answers from Henne help.
"I think I know what he does the best and what he doesn't do the best and that's another thing you have to take into consideration when you're putting a game plan together for him as opposed to Chad Pennington," Henning said.
But there is perhaps a more important purpose the returned play sheets serve: They make Henne feel like he has say over the Miami offense. And for the second-year player, that seems to be important.
Henning recalls that when the Dolphins were looking at quarterbacks to draft in 2008, he, coach Tony Sparano, and GM Jeff Ireland locked themselves in a room with Henne and asked the youngster about what he was doing in his final game against Ohio State and the bowl game against the University of Florida.
Henne, according to Henning, wasn't too enthusiastic about discussing the Ohio State game. He was quite effusive, however, in discussing the Florida game. Perhaps it was partially because Henne played poorly against the Buckeyes and lit up the Gators.
But Henning has another idea. He later learned that Henne actually helped author the game plan against Florida.
"That made me feel like, 'When he takes ownership, he's going to make it work,' Henning said. "And that's what we try to do here. We try and make sure they take ownership. When they take ownership, they play pretty [well]."
And that's exactly how Henning expects Henne to play today against the Saints. The 4 p.m. game is going to require that Henne keep the New Orleans defense honest as it tries to take away Miami's rushing attack. And if the Dolphins fall behind, then Henne will have to do some winging of the ball.
"I expect he will play [well]," Henning repeated. "That doesn't mean he might not on occassion do well. But I think he has the goods ... I think he has the temperment for this business."
[ANNOUNCEMENTS: I will be on the air from 1-3 p.m. at 790-AM in South Florida Sunday to discuss the New Orleans and Dolphins matchup. You can listen live at 790theticket.com and you can call the show at 786-360-0790. You can also text me at 74965. Afterward, I will head over to the stadium and we will be conducting our live game blog, as always, to discuss the action and get the latest information from the stadium.]
Finally, if you want to find out why Tony Sparano is coaching the Dolphins and not for the Saints today you should click on the link and find out.