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The Dolphins' mystery at quarterback spot

One of the interesting side hobbies I've picked up in covering the Dolphins is reading the people I cover. (They read me, so I figure turn about is fair.) Seriously, I like to listen and observe how things are laid out and that often gives you greater hints about what is happening than what these folks are actually saying.

And even when the hints fail to paint a full picture of what is going on, it gives you an idea that something is going on.

Based on that, when I look how the Dolphins are handling and talking about the quarterback situation, it seems painfully obvious something is going on.

Think about it:

At the end of last year coach Tony Sparano declined to name Chad Henne his team's starter. Yet last week, without Henne completing even one pass in anger since the end of the season because the Dolphins have not played any games, Sparano names Henne his starting quarterback. Fine.

Last year the Dolphins were hesitant to re-sign Chad Pennington. They figured they had their three guys in Henne, Pat White and Tyler Thigpen. But then we saw 2009 play out and this offseason the Dolphins gladly accepted Pennington back.

So on the surface the Dolphins have their four quarterbacks. No biggie, right? But that suggests to me either Thigpen or White or both should be nervous. And the Dolphins are making these veiled remarks suggesting there's some strategy about what's about to happen with these quarterbacks. They're talking like either trades, or cuts or draft picks are en route.

"I'm not gonna reveal my hand, but we do have four quarterbacks," Coach Tony Sparano said last week.

Reveal your hand? Well, nobody knew the Dolphins have a hand to play until they declined to reveal it.

I found it interesting that Pennington, obviously sensing something, requested a no-trade clause in his contract. The Dolphins balked, suggesting they didn't want to give Pennington something they don't like giving other players, but also suggesting they perhaps had trading Pennington in mind.

The issue was resolved by giving Pennington a trade bonus that would pay the player a seven-figure sum if he is indeed traded. It's only money. It is an uncapped year. So don't be surprised if Pennington is traded.

Then the Dolphins made Pennington the No. 3 quarterback. The way it was portrayed by the Pennington camp is this gives him time to settle into his work in the preseason rather than feeling pressure to make more throws following his fourth shoulder surgery. The way Sparano portrayed it was different.

"We feel strongly about a couple of players that are there right now, strong enough that we make sure we do our due diligence, making sure those players are going to get the reps needed to continue to grow," Sparano said. "That's important. Chad Pennington completely understands the role he's in right now. 

"Again, I don't want to put barriers around them over there. We're going to let these guys play and see where we are. But we feel strongly about a couple of players at that position."

It is good the Dolphins feel strongly about a couple of players at the position. But they have four players at the position.

And that leads to the next thing that perked my ears and told me something is afoot. Last week, Sparano named Henne the No. 1. He said Pennington is the No. 3. But he declined to name No. 2 and No. 4.

I'm not getting into that," Sparano said as alarms are going off in my head. "You guys have a 50 percent chance of getting that right."

So the Dolphins have a mystery No. 2 QB? And they have a mystery No. 4?


Pat White, a second-round pick in 2009, was the No. 2 quarterback after Pennington went on injured reserve last season. But team sources kept telling me if Henne went down, Thigpen, the No. 3, would start the following week's game ahead of White.

Thigpen finally got a chance to play the final game of the season and he was, well, inconsistent. He completed 4 of 8 passes for 83 yards. He threw a 34-yard touchdown and also threw two interceptions. One could hardly say that is who Thigpen is because he came off the bench with little preparation and no practice snaps.

And yet that was better than what White showed all season long.

White could not complete a pass all season and was not even dynamic as a runner out of the spread option. He simply didn't look like an NFL player. And Sparano, who usually gushes about his players when they have a future on the team, was quite reserved about White.

"My thoughts and my evaluation was at the end of the season there was still work to be done with Pat," Sparano said. "I don’t think Pat would say anything different. There’s still work to be done. There’s always work to be done. I mean, there’s work to be done with Chad Pennington right now. That’s the great thing about Chad Pennington; he’ll let you work with him. There’s a bunch of work to be done with Pat, fundamentally throwing the ball.

"[Quarterback coach] David Lee is breaking those guys down every day. So I think that’s been it. But I did see growth. I saw growth from season’s start to season’s end with what Pat can handle from the offensive standpoint. At the end of the year there were no restrictions. He was able to handle it all mentally that way. And I’ve seen growth from a fundamental standpoint out on the practice field. Now, at the end of the day, with the competition out there, whether it’s going to be good enough or not, that really isn’t up to me. It’s going to be up to those players."

Sparano ruled out a switch in position for White at this time. The fact is he's never really played receiver, isn't exceedingly fast or big. The commitment has to be made for him succeeding or failing at one position before asking him to play another.

But it just seems like White has to take a giant leap to even salvage a roster spot in 2010.

Another issue is whether the Dolphins add a quarterback from the draft or as an undrafted free agent. Don't dismiss the possibility. It is real despite Miami having four quarterbacks on the roster.

And why is it such a tangible possibility?

Because I believe of the four quarterbacks currently on the roster, perhaps only two will be with the team when the regular-season begins. 


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let white wear his gloves and throw the way he wants to and feels comfortable throwing. i think if anyone, in any job got a new boss and was asked to change everything the do, and have been doing successfully for all their life there may be a year of growing pains. white will get another season, at least. thigpen is the guy in the trade seat. he has the most value, a possible 4th. white doesn't have as big a trade value and he was drafted as more of a project. those take time to see where they fit in. he is the type of guy teams want. he will do whatever is asked without complaint, is a character guy on and off the field. plenty of QB's have ridden the pine for 2 and 3 years before getting their shot. i think he will be given time. if he can be 6' 210 instead of 180 that would make him a little bigger than drew brees. his arm was plenty strong and plenty accurate wearing gloves at wvu. warner wore gloves, big ben does in games too. why wouldn't you let white? white is fast enough to be in the wildcat, he needs some muscle gain more than speed. they ran the same plays too often with him. look when they 1st ran that option against the pats. he drove them right down the field. look when he ran the wildcat near the goal line. td's 3 for 3. he may need another full season to reach his potential. i hope they keep him. if not i guarantee another team takes him and makes use of him. i wouldn't be surprised if it was the bills or pats.

I agree with you guys on the TE. It's been talking about on here before but Fassano was more effective when he was the second option at TE. I want them to grab a decent TE in the third or fourth. Not sure how you guys would feel about it but the WR I want to see them add is D. Thomas. I wouldn't mind them doing a deal with Dallas (maybe), that allowed us to move back into the first round and take Thomas before the Jets. He's a guy think they will thnk long and hard about. Not sure what it would take but I'd be fine with our second and something else.

The prototype is what it is, you guys need to let this brandon graham thing go, sorry. But I like the other guys thee, Morgan, JPP and Kindle. But they all have issues too. Can Morgan and JPP go from DE to OLB and have read some bad stuff about Kindle's maturity etc.


I agree about White. It's just too early to write this guy off. Guys on here are just pi**sed off because he was picked in the second round and they wanted somebody else. I was a fifth or sixth round pick nobody would complain or have given up on him already.

I still think when it's all said and done, some guys on here are going to have to eat their words. He's never going to be a star but he could be an awfully useful player, especially when the coaches do a better job of utilizing him.

sounds like their sticking with the wildcat in 2010. Otherwise why would penny backup white. Penny definetly is NOT backing up Thigpen.

AGREED Mando, draft a QB EVERY year until we find a great one.


you're right it is what it is when it come down to the "prototype" but letting go of the idea drafting Brandon Graham will happen about 9:30 PM or later on April 22nd.

Graham is a player. He can set the edge in the run game and also get into the backfield as evidence suggest. He led college in tackles for loss, had double digit sacks in his last 2 years, was named MVP of the Senior Bowl with 2 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and a forced fumble.

Craig M,

No, not a White hater, just a realist. And I knew JPeezy would get signed somewhere and I believe he still has gas in his tank. So there goes your theory. Actually, I hate White for a number of valid reasons. 1) I think with all the holes we needed filled last season, picking an undersized, option "QB" with the 2nd round pick was criminal. I think anyone not from WVa would say Tim Tebow is a waaay better college QB than Pat White, and look at the predictions on him being a great NFL QB, not good. Not all good college QB's make good NFL QB's. 2) For all the talk of Pat White being a great athlete, he didn't look all that great in the Wildcat formation. Not fast, quick, no great vision, he was basically average (and that's being nice). 3) Mando warned us before the season that White couldn't throw. All through training camp we heard of the ball going everywhere but in the receiver's hands. Then, when he had a chance to throw in a game, sure enough, as Mando said, every pass was off the mark and inaccurate. 4) Sparano said Pat White improved a lot during the course of the season (learning the playbook, etc.). And he was STILL horrible. We don't need players on this team that never step up (and yes, I do think it's not too early to cut your losses if you can't see how a player upgrades to become an asset). Maybe another team they can wait 3-4 years (like Cassell) for a player to develop, but the Dolphins are NOT that team, they need players to develop yesterday (and why spend all that time developing a guy who's gonna be a dud at best?). 5) Remember our 1-15 season? Remember who our QB was (I don't even like to mention his name)? Well, HE was a better QB than Pat White, I think that says it all.

Jaison B.,

I agree. It would be a big mistake to trade White. I think it would turn out to be a mistake like trading Welker. More so if they trade him to someone in our own division (having to play two games a year to remind you of the mistake).

Henne's not going anywhere and Pat White has no trade value. That leaves Pennington and Thigpen.

I think they would rather trade Pennington and keep Thigpen. But if the price is right, Thigpen would be gone.

DC Dolfan,

I was in agreement with most of what you said until about half way through your post. What I'll disagree with is why you would want to give up on a QB after one season. He's not our starter, he's not threatening our starter and it's not like he has a huge contract. So I don't get your and everybody else's reasoning...

I agree it may not have been the best pick and there were other holes we needed to fill. But he's on our team now, so I don't get why you would say 'I hate him'. He's still a young kid, and I think he was pretty overwhelmed last year. And being so low on the depth chart he really didn't get that many snaps. So, I'm saying he's good for at least one more season and quite possibly too.

Ok, sorry, let me clarify. I am absolutely a Pat White hater. I hate Pat White. And hopefully he will make me eat my words. And I'm not too big and bad to say I was wrong. So if after this season Pat White shows something more, then I will apologize on this blog to him and everyone and admit he's better than I ever thought he'd be in the NFL.


I'll look for your posts during the season. I think you'll see a better White this season, if only in a complimentary role.

Andy NJ,

Good info in your post. You and I are on the same page almost all the time...UNCANNY! I am glad for that as with so many harping "prototype" over "production" (which I feel is not good) I know I am not on draft theory island by myself anyways. ;)

A lonley place (the D.T. island) to be come draft time but, I can only scout/investigate players/gather data as thoroughly as I possibly can, then trust my own eyes and ability to assimilate all the data.

I think Brandon Graham will be an outstanding NFL player on the Fins if they snag him. It would make me sick to see him making plays for another squad. Especially if he turns out to be a smashing success. The shank would be coated in poison if that team was in our division.

Before folks get all cagey on me, I realize its the exact same emotions for those that feel Spiller, Morgan, Kindle, McClain, Dez, JPP or whomever they feel is that killer stud from hell that crinkles QBs with one hand or jumps out of stadiums to make tough TD grabs or zig zags through 6 guys for the wild TD runs!

I am not sure what can happen at this point. If he has a stellar pro day (April 8 or 10) he can move up in the draft some. He is said to go in the second half of the 1st round now.

Should be interesting.


I agree with CocoaJoe 100%..We don't keep 4 QBs on the roster, that's just asinine...Thigpen will be gone IMO

I predict this article will turn our Marshall regulars into McNabb regulars.

Henne the Hero

Craig M.,

WR D. Thomas in the 2nd round would be a great pick. He's got Andre Johnson size. He might be gone in the late 1st round.

TE Dickerson at 6'2" is fast and could be converted to WR (has played WR). Probably available in 3rd or 4th round. He could be a steal.

If they can get a 5th back for Thigpen, let the guy go, break even

DC Dolfan,

Same here dude. I am just being honest. Pat White isn't going to be an NFL caliber QB.

As far as the pick goes Craig your damn right bro. A second rounder? I just shook my head and went into the other room when they picked him. He was the definition of "system QB". Nothing personal against him but Miami preached how they knew the turn around from 1-15 to 11-5 and AFC East champs was still a working progress but they still went with a luxury pick in round 2 right after they went with a pocket passer in round 2 the year before. White will never beat out Henne. He doesn't haev electrifying speed to be a huge threat out of the Wildcat. It was a wasted pick. At best Pay White can be Seneca Wallace and at worst he will in the CFL.

If they trade anyone, it would have to be Pennington or Thigpen. There isn't a market for White, period. I could see them trading Thigpen quite easily, since there's no sign that he has much upside beyond what he's already shown. The real surprise for me so far was putting Smiley on the block, and the way they did it. I really don't like the lack of news on this point, because we could easily make Smiley worthless, or else have him return to the team with extremely negative feelings.

I strongly believe that the Dolphins have been targeting Tim Tebow since last year when people at ESPN were saying that Parcells was very high on him, and have no doubt that if Tebow would have come out last year, he would have been the QB that we would have picked in the second round (if he was still available) instead of White. Problem is, the word is out on Tebow that several teams really like him, and now most analyst are saying that he will be drafted amoung the first 15 picks in the first round. Obviously, this really screws up what the Dolphins might have been hoping for of getting him later on in the second or third round, as I don't believe with all of the needs that we have, they would pick him at 12 but that is probably what it would take to get him as he rising fact in many teams draft boards.


We're on the same page. My fear is that Thomas is gone to the Jets at 29. I think we may need to trade back into the first or trade down to get him. It's going to suck if this guy ends up playing against us twice a year.

I really like Dez Bryant but I think if he goes off trace that D. Thomas might ned up being the best WR in this draft.

Rob in OC,

At least we back each other's points. I with you there bro. I couldn't agree more if Brandon Graham goes to the patriots I will be physically sick.

Craig - I would love to see them grab a good WR like D. Thomas or even Mike Williams (troubles and all) I just think TE is the direction they'll go because of how they've constructed this offense. They love long drives and the cadre of possession guys are very quick and can get them those short first downs. I liked Martin but his history is more inconsistent than 2008. Dickerson is more of a big WR than a TE. Small but faster than the road runner - and than any of our current WRs or TEs. I can see him on this team - but he would be pretty much a pure pass catching TE or converted to WR. I can see this as a way to get a real WR in, Klingon cloaked to look like a TE until Henning got ahold of him.

Rob - I agree that there might be someone there they can't pass up if no-one else they like is around. But, I seriously doubt it. I think they like to chew up clock and stay conservative. Sparano's chunk yardage is probably more in the 5-9 yard range. At least that's what he seemed to link that phrase to when he used it. I think they roll with a TE and hope Ginn can catch the occasional deep ball (there were a couple last year - even if one was called back, it was pretty. (I don't like Ginn any more than anyone else here, but...)

Should've said Dickerson is small for a TE


"If they can get a 5th back for Thigpen, let the guy go, break even"


The Stampeders have entitled me to offer a third round pick for Pat White...Of cource that`s a CFL second rounder.

You dont name a qb (Pennington) as your 3rd stringer (effectively demoting and devaluing him )if you are going to trade him. Thigpen isn't going anywhere unless we get better than the (undisclosed- what was it?) draft pick we gave KC. Maybe he does move - it might have been an investment in him to move up a round , but you wouldn't expect that unless you can showcase him and they didnt do that. Pat White to slot or another small WR doesnt seem to make sense -we have Bess and 'rillo . Pat is prob going to be a cat back or something totally freakish when they sweep the Nyets this year.

I'll be back fellas. Talk to you in a few


The thing that ticked me off about the White pick was the fact we drafted a QB in the second round for the third year in a row (Beck, Henne, White). It was so unecessary, when we looked at the other holes we had to fill. I would have preferred a WR or a LB with that pick. But he's on the team now and we have to hope he get better.

and it's funny.....I read your post back to Rob in OC and I thought it said, 'I wish you were my bro'......I think you guys need get a room......LOL.

Andy NJ,

I would just let Njack (or any other) say what he thinks and let it go at that.

I have given up "converting" or "causing people to see the light of lacking 1.5 inches of height but far exceeding his peers with better motor and production equaling a better player" a while back.

Almost received as warmly as a new door to door religion! haha.

I understand that they are just as passionate about their players typically and thus entrenched as well.

The stark reality is that Brandon Graham would be going off the trail some from what the Trifecta would normally target. I do see it as a longer shot as the guy is always painted as just a try hard guy with some sort of athletic ceiling.

In studying him closely I feel he will beat those bad wraps and others do not. Time will tell. Thats the way the cookie crumbles.

I like your fire regarding BG Andy NJ! That first line on your 2:07 post is classic!


Some of the trade possibilities you guys put in here are incredible.

Rob in OC and Andy NJ,

I agree that Brandon Graham should be the #12 pick (assuming Berry doesn't slide to #12).

He's not the FO's prototype but how do you measure heart, persistence, having the switch on at all times?

Trade PipPen to the Bills
Trade Penne to Pittsburgh
Leave White at # 3
Pickup C-Pep for backup job

i'd leave Dorin Dickerson alone. If a guy is a stud WR you leave him at WR. but they moved him to TE - so obviously not a stud WR. then at TE - despite having 4.4 speed - he averages 10 yards a catch. plus he's too small so will be a liability whenever he's asked to block. Jimmy Graham, Dennis Pitta, Shelton Quarles, the Iowa TE, Dedrick Epps, Gronkowski, and a few others are TEs that can all run good and have size to play TE full time.

I would like to see Brandon Graham as the 12th pick, far more than Spiller/Bryant, any of the random choices some people make. I think we can get a good nose in the 2nd/3rd rounds, but we need what Graham has to offer more. The only player I'd consider trading up for (and it won't happen) is Eric Berry. The point is that we need to strengthen the defense far more than the offense. No way Parcells doesn't do that in this defense-strong draft.

I agree - something is going on. You smellin what I'm smellin? I think there are going to be blockbuster moves on or b4 draft day. BIG stuff. I can feel it in the air.

you have to know when to holdem.
know when to foldem.

Easy Craig,

You needing reading glasses does not constitute any get a room BS comment.

You have jumped smack dab into the middle of a number of pick "love fests" and I have nary said a word.

What do you think the reaction would have been if Spielman was the GM for the Phins & used a #2 on White and had these results? I think it's appropriate a #2 was used for White. That is what he played like.

Was just kidding Rob....LOL. Although, I have to say, your love affair for Graham has definitely surpassed Armando's affection for BG......no question.....LOL.

Yeah bobby, this is the time of the year that some teams are making decisions on whether or not to change QBs. Pennington's at the end of his career and would only be a quick fix.

Later in the season when (not if) a vet QB goes down, you're desperate and you want to get to the playoffs, then Pennington will save your bacon.

I am not saying I don't like Graham, I am just being realistic. I just want to improve the Defense, whoever fits best. I prefer OLB, but if its FS or DT, we need em all.

A healthy Pennington could take the Vikings to the SB if Favre is gone. He could be the answer for two to four years for several teams. I wouldn't be surprised if the Fins could get a 2nd or 3rd round pick for him.

The question is how much does the FO value him?

Thank you all for visiting my blog at knightsphins.blogspot.com. I appreciated it

Looks like Bradford will go #1 to the Rams... If 4 OT's and 2 qb's go in the top 10, that should leave alot of options open for the Dolphins at 12


I agree. Berry would definitely bring great value at #12 and almost assuredly would be the pick.

As to the "heart measuring" device...sadly no team has divised one yet.

The crazy motor is there, on tape and in production numbers, for all the world to see. Untill guys stop getting dinged for being 1.5 inches shorter than the next guy or some teams keep drafting Cromagnon with all their players in a decidedly pass happy league (by rules and by ref enforcement of P.I.'s) guys like BG will slip lower into the round. They will be gladly snapped up on the Pats, Jets or Chargers and post solid numbers in the NFL while our nice "look the part" guy is muddling through.

Welcome to the small minority of BG fanville tampafin... population 3. You, Andy NJ and myself. ;) It's a rough ride at times but the satisfaction after they start playing will be sweet!


Was it waterboy who confessed to making this blog last year? I remember somebody saying something about this a couple weeks ago, but cant remember who...

Your not going to get a 2nd or 3rd pick for Pennington, coming off a third shoulder injury. At the end of the day, he's more valuable to the Dolphins than what you are going to get back in a trade. He likely stays and Thigpen goes at some point.


I have no problem with BG but I don't think he's a great pick at 12 and I don't believe he'll be our pick. There's nothing wrong with him as a player and I think he'll be a fine pro. But we'e not picking this guy to keep him away from the Pats and Jets.....that makes no sense. If we pick him, I'll cheer for him as loud as anyone.

I've always thought Derrick Morgan would be our pick, but with some of the doubts I'm hearing about him being a real 3-4LB, I am starting to think it's going to be Kindle.

Carlito, It was Mr. Bungle no affiliation to me. But I do support the mock draft efforts by Knight/Bungle

Trade Pat White for Larry Fitzgerald (sounds like a good deal, I'm sure the Cardinals would go for that one, they might include a first round pick too) !!! If the Dolphins are 4-4 and Henne has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns Pennington may be named the starter (as if they'd give up on Henne that quickly, there's an intelligent well thought out comment) !!! Trade Thigpen (18 tds 12 ints in 2008) for a 5th round pick and break even (great idea, trade a quality prospect that the team has invested time in and break even, btw Buffalo would likely love to have him for a 2nd-4th round pick) !!! It's hard reading most of these comments. I'd love to read something insightful and be provided with some food for thought but most of you are just idiots who post asinine comments. Maybe for the peanut gallery here I should spell it ASSinine. Just ridiculous, ignorant, disappointing crap. Sid Rosenberg is right, most Dolphins fans are morons.

Who cares? I'm more concerned about the fact that the Pats have like 5 million draft picks, half of which are 2nd rounders

Profootballtalk.. Dolphins are looking hard at Spiller and might try to trade up to get him. Not sure I believe it, but the fins do like to run the ball STILL!

Thigpen may be better than White at present but he will be gone because he wasn't a Fins draft pick (and because he has more trade value at this point).

I believe the FO cares about their IMAGE and doesn't want to stir things up by (about their draft picking ability) deciding to keep a lousy team's 7th round QB pick (Thigpen)over their own 2nd round QB pick (White).


It's all good mang....I know you's just funnin about.

I realize we don't see eye to eye on many choices but you are a solid sport about your viewpoints vs others and I can respect that a ton.

I do think Armando softened his stance on BG a bunch. I believe it was more due to the rigid "Trifecta parameters" stuff beating him up than doubting his ability to play. I think Armando is better served as blog admin to predict what BP will do and be in alignment with that as early as possible. Many bloggers would say that makes him smart. He is as he recognizes this and likes to have a well represented blog and thus puts out the blog explaining Sparano's idealogy explaination.

My draft day fun is simply identifying who I think can REALLY play the game and cheering those picks on. I know I have zero control over who the Trifecta takes so I just wait to see if I agree with the pick or not. Then for the most important part of the equation I follow the players I liked after they are drafted to see if I made the correct call or not.

Some like to predict what the Fins will do, I prefer to "try" and pick the most talented players. To each his own.

It's all wide open as we blast these last days before the draft!

Cheers Craigster!


I see ya there! Good post. Keep the faith... it may be a snowballs chance in hell but, I will hold out hope.


Seems quite simple to me,

going into camp with four quarterbacks, positions 1&3 are known , positions 2&4 are not.

Dolphins most likely only keep three for the season , one will be traded ,let go or whatever based on camp results, that's it !

Mando, you would make a terrific inspector!

So the real story is that Pat White might not be a no. 2 QB? This is news to you? They keep Pennington to mentor Henne, but they're not sure if he can play...that's all it is.

I wonder how Madden 11 will deal with the salary cap (or lack therof). I plan on releasing/trading the whole lot. Might keep Henne as a backup and draft a QB. ;)


Just to be clear I am NOT advocating choosing BG or ANY other pick ever to simply "Keep them away from the competition". I think that logic just doesn't hold water compared to getting the absolute best player, to help the Fins, on their board at the time. When I mentioned BG going to those in our division I was simply saying it would double the pain to pass on a guy and then get clubbed with that guy 2 x per year.

I am one of the ones that believes Morgan will have a harder time adjusting to the 3-4 than a couple of other prospects. I won't go so far as to say he can't play OLB but think his movement skills mean he may struggle with the conversion a little more than Kindle or BG.

I hoping Kindles off the field stuff(crash car into apt and leave) scares the Fins off.


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