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Sparano: Henne didn't grade out poorly

Tony Sparano will meet with his players at approximately 1 p.m. today and go over what happened during Sunday's 34-27 loss to Detroit. He will tell them what everyone knows: The Dolphins did not finish well and the result was turning a 10-point lead with five minutes to play into a seven-point loss.

But one thing Sparano will tell his team most of us -- certainly me -- overlooked: Chad Henne didn't play terribly.

During his 14-minute Monday press conference, the Dolphins coach said quarterback Chad Henne did not grade out poorly.

Let that marinate for a second.

Henne completed 29 of 44 passes for 278 yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs for a 72 quarterback rating in a 34-27 loss to the Detroit Lions. He had a QB rating over 100 through three quarters. His fourth-quarter rating was like the Boston weather the Dolphins are about to experience Sunday when they play New England -- in the 20s.

But in grading the film, Miami's coaching staff came to the conclusion Henne wasn't as bad as everyone believed because the player got "only" six minuses. And that is his all-time best as the Dolphins starter.

"In two years it's his lowest," Sparano said. "Two years. I thought at the time the guy was throwing the ball into the wind really well. You guys were out there watching it. I don't know that you know the conditions and what it was like out there but they were pretty stiff during the course of that game. I thought he threw the ball pretty well at times and he completed whatever it was, 66 percent on the day. He had one or two of them that got away from him -- the deep ball to Brandon [Marshall] on the right sideline going into the end zone that he maybe overthrew a shade and a couple of locations. But other than that, it really came down to the last five minutes we didn't finish the game."

That is all true. All of it. Dead on accurate in every detail and fact.

But I think the truth is more important than the facts. So I want to know the truth. And I wanted to know if Sparano believed his quarterback, who was being serenaded with "Henne sucks" chants from the home crowd, played well against Detroit.

"We didn't finish the game in the last five minutes and he threw a couple of interceptions but other than that, one of the interceptions is not his, Armando," Sparano answered, no doubt wishing death upon me. "So yeah, I kind of think on the game, as a whole, when you grade the film, he didn't play poorly. Absolutely didn't play poorly."

Now, you may read theories elsewhere that Sparano was simply spinning the truth so as to not throw Henne under the bus. Not true. When the quarterback stinks rotten, Sparano doesn't defend him anymore. Shouldn't, actually. This is big-boy football and it's time for Henne to grow up.

On this occasion, the coach simply was trying to correct the perception of a terrible game by Henne because that's what the player's grade actually shows. And that's what he would then tell the team. And if he tells the media one thing and the team another, it ruins his credibility with his players.

So Sparano said that which is hard for some people to be convinced about: Henne wasn't awful Sunday.

Look, you don't have to like it. I don't. You know I no longer believe Henne is Miami's future at QB. And I also wouldn't give Henne a pass on that second INT that was returned for a TD because on the play, he had the choice of throwing to five different receivers and he picked the only one that was bracketed while not serving up an opportunity to the three facing man-coverage or Brandon Marshall against a zone.

Yet, the grade is the grade. And the grade did include some negative plays.

"That [first] interception was a combination of a few things," Sparano explained. "One, the decision wasn't great on the interception. Let me say this: First of all, Chad Henne probably, not probably, he only had six minuses out of the entire football game. One of them was on that play particularly and it was a combination of two or three things that happened. The tight end didn't sit down and he kind of drifted on him and they end up getting the ball in the short end of the field. We stop them, but we gave up field goal.

"We have a receiver open. He's open at the sticks and falls down. Slips. The ball ends up in [the defender's] hands. We're going to the right place with the football. He's throwing in the right area. The receiver falls down and they pick it off and we miss three tackles on the play."

I guess I got a football lesson today. A player can stink for five minutes and still not have his entire body of work in a game get slimed. So Henne maybe didn't play well when one considers the entire body of work. But he wasn't terrible, either, according to Miami coaching grades.

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