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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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Rob in OC,

Got ya!! And I'm starting to agree with you on Morgan. Let's put it this way, it's unlikely to be an easy adjustment for him and the chances are he might struggle in his first season. They will do their due dilligence on Kindle before making him their selection.

Gotta go, guys....check in later.

Craig, if you're shocked the Dolphins would give up on a player after only one year then you must have been shocked last year when they gave up on Ernest Wilford and Shawn Murphy after one year.

Oh, they also gave up on Eric Green and Josh McCown in one training camp.

These guys get rid of their mistakes. Quickly. And Pat White was a mitake of the first order.

I hope the Spiller talk is wrong and I am sure it is. If Miami gets Spiller they ignored OLB, FS, WR, NT and TE.

I want this draft to be as defensive minded as possible. I am a defense first.

It's funny too I loved watching Marino sling it in the late 80's and early 90's but my mindset has changed over the years. I am defense first and heavy run to set up the pass.


You don't pick a guy in the top half of the second round and then get rid of him one year ino his NFL career. There was a reason they picked him last year, what's changed in 12 months. He's a kid, and needs a little extra time to adjust. What EXACTLY did you expect him to do last year? He was never going to take Henne's job. What is it your mad about?

Green, McCown, and Wiflord were all veterans with NFL experience. Different situation completely. They admited their mistakes and moved on. Murphy I don't know about. They obviously felt there was other guys ahead of him and felt that maybe a fourth round pick was the appropriate gamble for a guy like him. I don't actually agree with doing that to a guy his first season in the NFL but that's their call and they know a lot more about these things than I do.

I agree with you Armando, great post. No way the phins keep four quaterbacks. My guess Thigpen gets traded when the right time comes. I believe something is also up with the Smiley trade. There probably is a verbal agreement with some team, otherwise this wouldnt make any sense. I think the phins are in desperate need of an upgrade at tight end. I can see all the recievers getting better but I cant see the tight end unit getting much better as far as potential is concerned. How many games did we loose this year because of great tight ends from the other teams. Let me know what you guys think.

Just met Joey Haynos! What a classy guy! He took a picture with my kid and engaged in a full conversation with me! Gotta love his humility. Murtha and Anderson and Andrew Gardener nice guys!


The actual round has and slot may play quite a role in how early they give up on a player as well.

Also, if the Fins don't part ways with Pat White this year then using your logic they think he has talent then, correct?


Henne is the starter. White is #2 for wildcat plays. Penny #3 in case Henne gets hurt. Thigpen #4 and getting traded. Remember the only reason we picked him last year was as a quick insurance policy. He has no future with the fins. White is much more of a playmaker than thigpen and he will be better this year.

Don't pay attention to that article on PFT. It's a bunch of BS. In order to get to the article, you have to click on the tab titled "Latest News AND RUMORS" and the article is couched in terms of rumor talk ... "We're hearing talk" and "with rumors currently focusing on the Dolphins and the Giants." You don't know if this is propaganda being thrown out there by one of the teams or PFT trying to drum up some news stories when there aren't any.


PENNINGTON #3 Player/Coach


Thigpen for a 5th? Break even? No, no, they can do better than that. Get a f'ing clue: They like Thigpen and it will cost to get him.

Stay away from sharp, pointy objects, you're liable to hurt yourselves.

A lot of people keep mentioning Morgan but Morgan is clearly not an appropriate selection for a 3-4 defense. Scouts have watched him during workouts and have concluded that he is not instinctive enough to be a 3-4 OLB and that he is better suited to be a DE in a 4-3 defense. I have not heard anyone mention Jerry Hughes. He played DE in college but is being projected as an OLB in either 3-4 or 4-3. He has tremendous speed and a knack for being around the ball. Scouts are salavating over him. In my opinion, Hughes looks better on tape the Kindle. For OLB, I would rate the prospects in this order: 1) Brandon Graham, 2) Jerry Hughes, 3) Sergio Kindle. I have watched film on several other OLB prospects and have not been impressed at all. And, as good as Graham is, at time, I feel that I would rate Hughes ahead of him. Graham is the biggest OLB in terms of weight in the draft, so if prototype is a problem with him, then the Dolphins have no business drafting any OLB's in this draft. Graham is two inches shorter than the OLB's on our roster (6'2" instead of 6'4") but he outweighs the OLB's on our roster. He's a pretty big dude.

03/16/2010 - According to NFL Network's Mike Mayock, "just about everyone in attendance" at Georgia Tech's Pro Day believed Derrick Morgan will be a 4-3 defensive end in the NFL -- not a 3-4 outside linebacker. Morgan struggled badly when asked to drop and change direction at the Combine. He was a bit better at Monday's Pro Day, but at 6'3/266 Morgan's best fit appears to be as a base, 4-3 right or left defensive end. Mayock expects Morgan to be drafted somewhere in the top 10-20, though it appears we can cross most 3-4 clubs off the list of potential landing spots. - USA TODAY football

Just looks to me like someone (Armando) is desperate for a story to write......who cares, really? Mystery at 2 and 4?...big deal, and not really if you just think about it for about half a second.... You can find something better then this crap to write about...

We need a got da*n reciever!!!!!! They need to cut ties with pat white cause he was a mistake from the begining. He's way too small to be a starting caliber NFL quarterback. He almost got killed last game of the season. Ghat should be proof enough. The guy couldn't complete 1 pass all last year yet thigpen comes in and could have very well led the team to a comeback win. WHAT DO U PEOPLE SEE IN PAT WHITE!!!!! Tebow is more ready as a rookie than Pat is now.

Graham reminds me some of Darryl Tapp. Not a bad player at all in the pros. Not a great player either. Solid enough.

Andy NJ,

Finally we are not exactly eye to eye on something! LOL

I would not mind Spiller over a lot of the OLB, FS and NT prospects.

If the Fins were to select JPP or Morgan for instance than I would just assume have Spiller instead. I think Spiller has the stats, speed and positional flexibilty RB,WR,PR,KR,WC to help the Fins in many more ways than either of those two.

As a few have mentioned, bobbyd being one, a guy like OLB Jerry Hughes is very adept at pass rushing with 26.5 sacks last two years and only 10 less tackles for loss than BG albeit with 3 more games. He could be a good value pick in the second round and could take some pressure off of selecting a homerun hitter type choice in RB Spiller.

In my eyes there are some good safety prospects in the 3rd round area like Morgan Burnett (might be a late 2nd) Rashad Jones(3) and Major Wright(4). In whatever round they don't get the NT prospect they can grab one of the groomer types Joseph or Woods etc. TE may be able to be addressed with Pita (4) or J. Graham (3-5).

It will really depend on how the draft starts to fall and how other teams value certain players.


i'd take JPP over Spiller.

Parcells wasn't in Dallas anymore when Anthony Spencer got drafted or was he?

Craig M,
I agree White is different from Wilford, etc. (as they were veterans and White's a rookie). And you're probably right that for Tuna to save face he can't just dump the guy after one season. And as far as him showing me something this season, from your lips to God's ears bro', I would love to see it. Ultimately, I just wanna win, don't care who is playing or not.
As far as Eric Berry's concerned (obviously it's probably highly unlikely we get him, but he'd be my choice if we could get anyone). What do you think about that safety from Texas (forget his name)? Huge drop-off from Berry, or could he be a candidate?

and not all 3-4s are the same. Terrell Suggs isn't being asked to cover almost ever. Mike Vrabel was covering backs and TEs a lot - even if in zone more than man. Shawne Merriman...never covering. Carlos Emmons was all about stuffing the run and covering TEs. all depends on what Nolan wants his 3-4 looking like and how he wants to make use of the guys available to him. if he's running Ravens style 3-4 than Morgan will be considered. If he's running 49ers style from last year than that pretty much eliminates him. We'll get an idea of what to expect once they make those draft choices.

I think Spiller is a luxury pick and that we have too many needs to be thinking about luxury. I agree that we have needs on offense and defense. When we draft, we need to draft with an eye towards the value of the player and the team's need. You don't focus on one to the exclusion of another. That being said, I think our biggest needs on the team are DT, OLB, FS, WR, and TE. I think the most talented players in the draft at these need positions who will possibly be available at #12 are: DT Dan Williams, OLB Brandon Graham (maybe Jerry Hughes later in the first round), FS Eric Berry, WR Dez Bryant, and TE Jermaine Gresham. Now, if I had to pick between all these different player to decide who would make the biggest impact, I would pick either FS Berry or WR Bryant. I would probably take FS Berry and gamble on WR Thomas being available in the second round.


'Tebow is a more pro-ready QB than Pat White is now'? What are you basing that opinion on? There are still lots of questions about whether Tebow can make in the pros or not. I'm not sold on him. But I'm not sure what that comment means or what it's based on.

If you don't like White that's fine but your comment is kind of ridiculous. White was never drafted last year to be a starting QB. The team had a role in mind for him. I just hope everyone of you writing him off is man enough to give him his dues when he does good things for this team.

Team Tuna,

Thanks for the posts. Always, like what you bring to the table. You've kind of turned me off Morgan and to other players. Eric Berry would be a great addition. I worry that he woun't get past Cleveland, Jacksonville or Denver but I think he would be a really good addition for us at 12. I'm also onside with taking Bryant at 12 too...

DC, the other safety your thinking of is Earl Thomas. I like him but I think there is better value in the draft in the third or fourth rounds at safety.

Going to go back and look at some more footage on Kindle and Morgan. Cheers, guys!!


Let's all remember John Beck was a 2nd round pick gone bust and look how fast we dumped him...Pat White has no place on this team...GET RID OF HIM NOW!
Heck I'd rather see Tim Tebow running the Wildcat over Pat White!
Oh there's a thought...trade PW and grab Tebow in the 2nd round....hmmm.

Good stuff @ 4:00pm Team Tuna!

That height vs weight arguement rages on eternally and will long after this draft is over.

I would much rather have a guy that is more stout for run responsibilty than a lankier guy.

If the lankier guy had better stats in college or was faster in the 40, stronger..something, I would say ok let me re-evaluate that prospect as being potentially superior.

The answer to those questions:

Q: Are there heavier OLB pospects? A:Only JPP by 2 pounds at the combine.

Q: Are there faster OLB prospects? A: Depends on who's stopwatch but official Combine time: Weatherspoon was fastest 4.68, then JPP and Huges at 4.69, Kindle ran 4.71, Morgan and Graham tied at 4.72. Graham injured his hammy but finished the run. That is why he has a pro day April 8 or 10. Very close times by all with only a .04 seperating them all at the combine. Weatherspoon had a much fatser time at his pro day.

Q: Are there any OLB prospects that have more sacks? A: In the last two years only Jerry Hughes with 26.5 compared to Grahams 20.5. Hughes played 3 more games.

Q: Are there any OLB prospects that have more Tackles for Loss? A: NOPE! Hughes is second 36 compared to Grahams 46 in 3 less games. (This stats is my favorite category as it shows instincts, change of direction, ball awareness, play diagnosis and the ability to properly track and bury a ballcarrier on their side of the line of scrimmage. The Fins really need this ability.

Again, I simply pointing to the data that some jumping into this blog late might not know. Some grizzled vets of the blog either know it and don't care, don't value stats as much as height/length or simply their eyes see better things in other prospects or positions.

Thanks for the post Team Tuna!


Unfortunately the Pat White pick from last year cost them 2 picks and a missed opportunity on selecting Tim Tebow. Tebow would be the best QB other than possibly Vick to run the Wild Cat.

New Blog up, where Clam Chowder is exposed by the number crunchers.


ONLY 1 year of decent but not standout production at a smaller school vs lesser opponents than the NFL will offer doesn't scare the willys out of you with JPP @ #12?

It does me. I see the serious athletic ability he has but, at #12 overall and NOT having posted sheer dominance in his school is too big of a hill for me.

Gimmie BG or Spiller in that case.


PS Anthony Spencer OLB for Dallas was drafted 4 years ago. He was 6' 3 and 255lbs. I am not sure if Parcells was there for sure but I believe he was.

Million dollar question:

Will the Fins keep the wildcat or not?

This will determine our #2 & #4 QB's...
Yes, PW gets one more season to prove his value...
No, bye bye PW.

How many pass attempts did PW have last year?

Put Pat White on the Practice squad!


1) Henne
2) Tebow
3) Pennigton

3x 4th rounders for White, Thigpen and Smiley.

1x 3rd rounder for trading down in the first round 5 spots or so


Thanks Craig M. and Rob in OC. I think it is great for us all to have different ideas. I like hearing everyone's ideas because it gives me new ideas and will help me enjoy the draft as a more educated viewer. However, we have to make sure that the people we are routing for fit our scheme. When you watch the film, I think the two most exciting linebackers to watch are Graham and Jerry Hughes. When you watch the film, you'll see Graham play mostly at the linebacker position, sometimes on the line. You will only see Hughes at DE because that's the position he played in college. One thing you will see with these players more so than any of the other players is that they are always around the ball. You will be amazed how many times they are the first player on their team to get to the ball and happens that way so consistently. They are absolute ball hawks.

Trade White.... draft bust!!!..... send him packing ASAP......
get whatever you can for him!

If we trade thiegpen to the Bills we will end up with egg on our faces. This guy gives our team the best chance to win now. I like Henne and his strong arm but when it comes to athletic ability and making plays and moving the chains Thiegpen gives the team the best chance to win games. I hope he is not traded so i can prove what i am saying. Thiegpen makes the Bills better and will punish us for being stupid and trading him. We need to keep him and cut.. P.white or make him our 4th and develope him. Thiegpen almost won the game against the Steelers in the 4th quarter who were playing for there playoff lives . Yeah, he threw 2 picks but the offense came to life unlike when Henne and White were in there.

We would be lucky to get a 4th round pick for Pat White... Real Lucky...


No , you like Thigpen... get it straight... he is a career backup, despite your man-love


If Beck was a Trifecta pick he might still be around. He was a Cameron's QB pick which is why he's gone. Not many Cameron guys left on this team if you check. Trifecta wants their guys. That means Pat White gets another year. If by year end they don't like what he did, he won't be here in 2011. Henne didn't do squat his first year and didn't get as much flak. If White turned out to be Superman, would you be asking for Henne's head?

I am not calling White a bust yet but he is a long way from being a starter. Thigpen played very good ball 2 seasons ago and he has shown that he has what it takes. My guess is that the odd man out is White but only if his trade value is fair. Penny is once again a project but one that is a low risk. They know what Penny brings when healthy. If Penny looks like his old self White is likely getting moved.

If we do not trade penny then I think we will move white to slot or RB. I like this kid but not so much at QB.

My Take,

Pat white will be traded before or during this years draft.

McNabb will be a RAIDER real soon. Before this weekend.

It does't matter how they are ranked #1,#2,#3 or#4 if Henne goes down Pennington will be the starter! He is head and sholders the best QB they have. He is the only one that is worth anything in trade. If you are in a play off run and your starter goes down who would you trade for White , Thigpen or Pennington? Pennington could be a starter for a lot of teams to begin with if he wanted to move.

hey i know theres a lot of response to this post so i dunno if its been mentioned already but with the nfl rules either pat white or tyler have to be No. 2 so they can be subbed in to run the wildcat.... wasn't that the whole ponit in drafting White in the first place not to challenge for the No. 1 spot but to have someone who could run the wild cat but with the potential to throw the ball better than ronnie thats why if i'm not mistaken chad henne was the no 3 guy until pennington went down*. i can't see the dolphins using up 4 spots for QB's so someones gotta go i dunno who though. pat has a lot of learning to do but is young enough and seems to have good character but tyler thigpen has games under his belt and looked okay for the chiefs before matt cassel arrived. I could see them both go as the dolphins loose the need for the wildcat and draft in a normal style pocket passer like the Chads.

(* NFL rules stats that once the No.3 QB is subbed in no other Subs can be made at that position barring injury. this is why you don't have Pennington as no2 cause henne and white will be subbing out when using the wildcat.)

There will only be 3 QBs on the roster at the start of the season. A trade is imminent, I would bet on White or Pennington.

i think this is a possible scenario.We will trade THIGPEN and White and the TRIFECTA will draft TIM TEBOW.CHAD PENNINGTON will nurse him for 2010 then he will be ready for the WILDCAT.

I can buy into that assessment.
I agree. Maybe another 2nd rounder spent on a QB this season like the last 3 seasons.... oooh oooh maybe a shot at another spread undersized QB like Colt McCoy!!!!

Its hard to be sarcastic in print but yeah that is what I was going for there. Why is our 2nd and 3rd QB situation even news?

I find it interesting reading the fans idea of a trade. Naturally it always benefits Miami much more then the other team. Does anyone really think Pat White has value right now? How about Smiley? Both would be lucky to garner a 6th round pick. Thigpen might be worth a little more to a team like Buffalo, but wouldn't they be better off drafting another young QB? I believe they would. Thigpen is certainly not a true NFL quality starter. He is somewhere between a John Beck and a Gus Ferotte. What's that worth to ya?

Armando, you say: "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."

Yo: You are confused. The Dolphins didn't get Thigpen until Pennington got hurt in Week 3. Thigpen came to the Dolphins via trade in late September 2009. They never thought "they had their three guys" in henne, white and thigpen.


If available Draft Armanti Edwards from Appalachian State in the 4th or 5th round if he shows in workouts he can play receiver and return kicks.....He is a more accurate passer than White and more dynamic player. He is more in line with what the Dolphins would expect from a Wildcat quarterback...Someone, who can play another position and then play a few plays as a wildcat quarterback...Pat White has not shown that....Trade him before his value becomes zero...

I think White will stay if he can get to grips with running the wildcat along with Ronnie as that seems to be the reason they drafted him. Thigpen was bought in as a backup quaterback after Penni was injured because if Henne went down White couldnt be trusted as the replacement. With Penni healthy ,and there as the backup, I think Thigpen is the spare man and seen as he the one with the most trade value right now its probably him that goes.

Pennington is a security blankett, if Henne does not develope well in his 2nd year well he might get cut and Penne can take over, if that would be the case it wouldnt be fair to Henne not having a big weapon in WR. I hope thats not the case.

The Dolphins are too tricky by 3. I am disappointed at the way they're treating Pennington and Jt.

Bill Peery

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