Is there any assignment more important for an NFL general manager than picking his team's franchise quarterback? Is there any assignment more important for a head coach than developing his team's franchise quarterback?
The answer to both these questions is a resounding, not-up-for-debate, "No!"
And that's the reason Chad Henne's success is very important to Jeff Ireland and Tony Sparano.
It's simple, really. If Henne succeeds going forward, if he continues to improve and continues to make strides and continues on the path toward becoming Miami's franchise quarterback, he will be also virtually providing a guarantee for Sparano and Ireland that they will be thought of successes in their respective jobs.
Simple as that, folks.
If Henne becomes a star, there is not a ton else either Sparano or Ireland could do to endanger their Miami careers. Henne goes to the Pro Bowl, Henne becomes the franchise QB, Henne joins the ranks of the NFL's elite QBs and the two men atop the Dolphins organization are virtually locked into their spots.
Thats because, typically, finding an elite QB leads a team to the kind of success that keeps hanging Ws on the standings and that keeps fans happy, which fills stadiums, which makes owners happy, which means everyone is safe.
Can you think of one GM who picked an elite QB and got canned? Can you think of one coach who developed an elite QB and got canned? I can't.
So yes, the fact Chad Henne played well Sunday against the Raiders was good news for the Dolphins, good for Henne, and definitely good for Ireland and Sparano.
Yes, it was only one game. But better a good one game than a bad one game, I say.
The other side of that two-sided coin isn't so good for anyone.
If what we saw from Henne against the Raiders (17 of 30 for 307 yards with two TDs and one INT) is more mirage than mastery, then that is bad news for everyone, and we do mean everyone.
If Henne continues to merely tread water and follow a good game with a bad game, we have an issue. Typically and up-and-down quarterback makes his team an inconsistent team. That kind of quarterback on the edge of getting benched one week and playing well the next is only good enough to get most teams to .500
And .500 isn't good enough for job security in today's NFL.
That kind of quarterback play would cause folks to question not just the QB but the people responsible for putting the QB on the team and in the lineup.
Let's face it, the most important player on any NFL team is the quarterback so finding the right guy is the general manager's most important decision. And once he's on the team, developing that quarterback into a player who has reached his potential and reached a level of excellence is the coach's No. 1 priority.
There is no defense for failing at this.
The general manager cannot say, "I screwed up in finding us a franchise quarterback but what about the cornerback and the defensive end I found?" That kind of argument gets met with a shrug.
And no coach can say with a straight face, "I couldn't do anything with the quarterback, but what about the job I did with center and the left tackle and the strongside linebacker."
"Yeah but you screwed up the franchise quarterback," is the worst line either the GM or the coach could ever have to argue against. It's a losing proposition.
So Tony Sparano and Jeff Ireland have to be feeling pretty good about themselves right now. Chad Henne is playing well now. The guy they have tapped as their franchise quarterback is apparently pointed in the right direction toward that goal.
They both must hope and work toward the situation staying that way. Because both are undoubtedly tied to Henne.