Several times over the past few weeks I've gotten e-mails and twitter messages from folks asking me to encourage Chad Henne, asking that I talk up Chad Henne, asking that I write nice, positive things about Chad Henne. The same folks want me to scold fans for booing Chad Henne.
The idea is that if Henne hears words of encouragement or, at the very least, doesn't hear criticism, his confidence will rise and he will play better.
I have a counter proposal: How about the Dolphins' starting quarterback raise his confidence by playing well? How about Henne shutting down the boos or the chants of "Kyle Orton, Kyle Orton," by making fans forget Orton was ever on the radar?
How about a guy getting everyone's approval and respect by, crazy notion here, earning it?
That is what is at stake tonight for the Dolphins quarterback when he makes his 2011 preseason home debut at Sun Life Stadium.
"Chad Henne needs a fast start out there tonight," former NFL quarterback Sean Salisbury said on my radio show, Armando and the Amigo, on Friday morning. "He needs to nut up and show people he is the starting quarterback of the Miami Dolphins and there is no question about that. He needs to get going right away and lead his team and make good decisions and show accuracy and take over the crowd because fans down there are just waiting for a reason to boo him.
"If he's the quarterback the Dolphins need him to be, he won't give them that chance."
Salisbury says the reason some fans in South Florida talk about Matt Moore as if he is an intriguing prospect and possible starter is because Henne has fed that conversation rather than squashing it. Indeed, even coach Tony Sparano, who two weeks ago proclaimed Henne the starter, this week added a clause to his proclamation by saying "Henne is the starter right now."
So the question about Henne as the Dolphins on the Carolina Panthers is simple:
"Is he going to step his game up," Salisbury said, "or step aside aside and let the fans beg for Matt Moore?"
Salisbury is right. It really is up to Henne. If he performs well ... Check that ... If he performs well enough, folks will line up behind him like toy soliders. Everyone will feel great if Henne throws a couple of touchdown passes and stays away from the emotion-sapping interception(s). No one will question him if he leads the Dolphins on a couple of touchdowns drives against the worst team in the NFL last season.
Truth is, even if Henne is just mediocre -- if he throws one TD pass without an interception and gets maybe that one score for his trouble -- no one will be upset.
But if he plays like last week, it could get ugly even though this game is at home.
It is up to Henne. The crowd, their reaction, the offense, and Miami's fate, are in his hands. He can play well and end any speculation about his job security. Or not, which will only make his job harder going forward.
It is up to Chad Henne.
Armando and the Amigo can be heard M-F from 6-10 am on 640-AM (WMEN) in South Florida or online at 640sports.com. We're also avaliable through the Tunein Radio app. Download the free app and search for WMEN.