[First off, thank you for a record day on the blog yesterday. Incredible how a little actual football news turns this blog into a monster. GRRRRR! Anyway, continue to stay here or return here often throughout the day as the Dolphins continue to operate in stealthy fashion while folks like me chase what's going on from other less-than-perfect, agenda-driven angles. What can I say? You get shut out, you do what you have to do.]
Now to the news and analysis:
Tyler Thigpen is a Buffalo Bill. He has agreed to join that team in return for a three-year contract that gives him a chance to compete for a starting job against Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick will win that competition. The deal sends Thigpen packing after a year and a half in Miami and reunites him with Buffalo coach Chan Gailey, who was Thigpen's offensive coordinator in Kansas City in 2008 when Thigpen enjoyed his best NFL season.
Even though the Dolphins showed casual interest in keeping Thigpen, I do not see this as a big loss, folks.
I know many of you thought Thigpen had potential to chase a starting job. Me? I shared that thinking until he got on the field in 2009 against Pittsburgh and last year against Chicago and was ineffective both times. Thigpen has the gift of adding spark. You see it when he enters a game and the pace picks up.
But Thigpen also is cursed with inconsistency. He'll lead an energy-lifting touchdown drive on one possession. And throw an interception and go three-and-out on the next two possessions.
Thigpen lovers will say that inconsistency in Miami was a result of his little opportunity to work with the first-team offense. Great, so explain his similar inconsistency in Kansas City when he was the starter for 11 games.
So the Dolphins will have a new backup quarterback for 2011.
They're also trying to add a new starting quarterback for 2011.
Hear that, Chad Henne? Hear that Henne supporters?
I have confirmed that Miami is heavily involved in trying to add Kyle Orton while various reports which I've not been able to independently confirm have linked the Dolphins to Matt Hasselbeck. I can see the Orton thing. I don't understand the Hasselbeck fling one bit.
[7:45 AM update: The Hasselbeck fling is not a thing in Miami after all. He is going to the Tennesse Titans. That obviously limits the Dolphins to a focus on Orton with a possible fallback being Marc Bulger or Vince Young.]
Orton is better than Chad Henne, or at least has been the past two years. Is he the man? Is he a franchise quarterback? No. Does he have a superstar arm? Can he escape the rush and turn disaster into dynamics? No.
But he's better than Chad Henne.
And right now, that seems to be good enough for the Dolphins who at last check were hopeful of adding Orton in trade from the Denver Broncos. Problem right now is the Broncos apparently have at least one other team on their line and are trying to reel in the highest draft pick compensation possible.
I do not know the specifics of what the Dolphins have offered (if anything, officially) but I understand the Broncos were asking for a first-round pick initially and are seeded in the second-round asking price of late. Really, Denver? A second for Kyle Orton?
The Dolphins aren't quite ready to do that, apparently. I hope they don't have to at that price. I would more comfortably understand yielding a conditional pick in which Miami gives up a fourth-rounder that could be a third if Orton takes the team to the playoffs, and maybe a second if he advances them to the AFC title game perhaps. (Yes, improbable, but I'm a dreamer.)
Bottom line: Be it either Orton or Hasselbeck, the point is clear the Dolphins are trying to add a veteran quarterback whose resume is superior to Chad Henne's because, well, they are trying to replace Chad Henne even if it's on a short-term basis.
Good for Miami.
Henne is young. He is talented. He has potential. But he has not earned the right to go into training camp unchallenged. He was benched in the 2010 season-finale, if you remember, the second time in the season he suffered that fate. That does not translate to, as some of you have suggested, "sticking with Henne to see if he develops."
The Dolphins are not afforded the luxury of seeing if Henne develops. Both Tony Sparano and Jeff Ireland want to, have to, win now to secure the footing underneath themselves. Banking on Henne to either develop or flop for a third consecutive season is not the most certain way to secure one's footing.
Henne should be watching this and understanding. He must realize he still has a chance to win the job if he, well, wins the job. But he must realize this isn't 2010 when the job was simply handed to him without a competition.
The hope here is this itself makes Henne better. Nothing like a realistic view of the situation to sober the spirit and steel the mind. Would be nice if it improves the decision-making and long-range accuracy, also.
By the way, regardless of whom the Dolphins add -- and it will not be Donovan McNabb as some of you lobbied for -- the idea is not simply to hand over the job. Sure, Orton or Hasselbeck come with reputations. But the Dolphins can still sell the competition idea to the public and Henne.
That can only make everyone better.
Follow me on twitta, as they say in Boston.