« ... Then the other shoe drops on roster-churn Tuesday | Main | An insider's view of the Soliai-Dolphins negotiations »

Dolphins close but not quite there in the red zone

I was watching Monday Night Countdown on ESPN the other evening when Trent Dilfer and Steve Young began talking about Sam Bradford and his struggles in the red zone. And, of course, I brought the conversation home to South Florida.

To Chad Henne.

To the Miami Dolphins' offense.

And to their red zone problems so far this season.

"You don't make your money in between the 20s," Dilfer said of playing QB. "You make your money from the 20 in against pressure."

Young, a Hall of Famer, agreed.

"The easiest thing to do is go between the 20s [but] inside the 20s is graduate work," he said. " .. you got to realize that for a lot of players that's the final step for them -- how to put it in the end zone. Because nobody is really ever open in the red zone. It's not just against the blitz but also zone.

"A lot of times young quarterbacks will say, 'Read the defense, do a nice job, drop the ball down, and kick a field goal.' And after about 16 field goals in a row you realize that's not the job. You have to throw somebody open."

Again, they were talking about Sam Bradford. But it all applies to Henne and his play so far in 2011. He's had relatively high success moving the team up and down the field between the 20s. But inside the 20s, the Dolphins are ranked No. 31 in the NFL with an unacceptable 60 percent scoring percentage.

Henne has to learn to throw receivers open. He has to learn to make precise, accurate throws and make them with anticipation -- something he's struggled to do at times. Against the Texans, Henne completed 3 of 8 passes inside the opponent 20 yard line for 16 yards and 1 TD. Not very good.

So there is that.

But ...

Miami's struggles in the red zone are not all Henne's doing. Not by a long shot. The Dolphins have struggled the first two games to rush the ball when it counts most. That is very frustrating.

And Dolphins' receivers haven't exactly helped Henne, either. No. 1 receiver Brandon Marshall has had two opportunities in the end zone that have hurt his team because he had two drops of potential touchdowns -- one against New England and one against Houston.

One of those at first to me seemed like a late throw by Henne. I said as much on the live blog. But I was wrong. Looking at the throw in the following series of screen shots sent to me by reader Justin Reader, it is obvious Henne threw an amazing pass to Marshall from the 16 yard line in the fourth quarter on Sunday.

Miami was trailing 16-10 at the time. Matched against former Dolphins DB Jason Allen, Marshall is in man-to-man coverage:

Marshall drop 1
Marshall beats Allen (no surprise) and the ball is in the air with about eight yards to spare between the players and the end line.

Marshall drop 2
Ball's almost there. Five yards to spare between players and the end line. Allen is watching helplessly.

Marshall drop 3
Marshall's got it. The ball is in his grasp. Now he must hold on and get both feet in bounds. He's got about four yards to work with.

Marshall drop 4
Still looking good. He's got three yards to secure the ball and get his feet in bounds. Allen? Helpless.

Marshall drop 5
This is now looking like a TD. Just hold on, Brandon Marshall!

Marshall drop 6
Whoops! Ball is no longer in Marshall's grasp. He basically flipped it away as he was trying to secure it.

Marshall drop 7
Yup, this is not going well. Now we have to hope Allen doesn't catch the rebound for an interception.

Marshall drop 8
Incomplete pass. Marshall had it in his grasp. He would have had room to tap his feet in. It could have, should have been a touchdown that put the Dolphins ahead 17-16.

Instead Dan Carpenter had to kick a 34-yard field goal to make the score, 16-13 in Houston's favor.

Marshall completes this catch, the game changes. The mood changes. Momentum shifts. Miami's red zone results change.

Instead, I'm writing about the team's red zone problems. Bottom line:

Somebody's got to make a play. Miami's playmakers have got to make a play. If they don't, we shouldn't call them playmakers any more.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Dolphins close but not quite there in the red zone:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

henne is horrible. next subject. like i told everyone in august, come january we can finally start to turn this franchise around. the house will be totally cleaned

great job mando. That was marshall's fault. Any decent receiver in this league brings that in for a TD. Terrible.



Colombo is Dallas practice squad trash

One more reason Sparano will hang for starting this O-lineman

Even Home knew Colombo was and NEVER will be the same after breaking his leg in 2009 against Green Bay

Now 10 years into his career, he flat out CANNOT do the job.

This was a real bad choice.
Yeah 4 yrs ago he was good b4 Colombo broke his femur, not anymore to compete with the best DL in the NFL world

C,Mon Man!


I basically harp about one thing I see thats most glaring about Henne. Im not insinuating he's the problem. For once he looks like the least of our problems.

The greatest problem is this entire team seems to shoot itself in the foot simultaneously. We cant win because it seems we cant stop beating ourselves. We would be sitting 2-0 right now if we didnt greatly contribute to beating ourselves.

This entire team seems to be a clusterfvck of under achieving. Thats a great coaching and personel issue.

Henne is our franchise QB

The man can drive down the field, has a laser arm and now finally has a deep threat and a real good rookie running back



What I like to know is why is that not pass interference on Allen. He's holding BMs jersey. That should have been first down on the 1 yard line.

Did someone say HAARP ?

Hmmm, ...

like in the HAARP flooding typhoon in Japan today?

The worst part is that Hartline made an incredible catch at the sideline during the game.

Craziest thing about this fo is it seems we never get the plethera of problems we already have on hand solved. Then to add insult to injury they seem to go out and bring in more problems.

We already have a multiple leaks pipe. Then it seems thier answer to fixing the multiple leaks pipe is create more holes. Geesh I just dont get it!

franchise qb,hilarious. unreal how dumb some people can become.

We do not need the fade

It does NOT work 4 us

There are dozen of other plays that work esp when
We have 4 shots to punch it in inside the 5

There is NO reason to toss the football inside the 5 on first down






TO BE OR NOT TO BE..............



This beyond a clue fo went out this offseason and paid $5 million a year to a severely injury prone utility rb then tried to sell us he's an every down feature back.

Even Sparano's buddy and best friend Sean Payton told him Reggie wasnt. Payton's seen everyday for the past 4-5yrs. That's still not enough for Sparano/Ireland.

These guys seem to be so totally cluelesss!

Maybe we could sign former Cowboys Golden Richards & Drew Pearson to help this week...

Db, however you want to shake it, the problem is more that the fade is called in that situation. If Henne has a weakness it is that pass, who the hell would call it on 4th and inches to our smaller receiver?

that is the EPIC issue here, coaching is terrible.

Watched NFL network this morning and one of the reporters (don't remember which) said the Carson Palmer could be had by the trade deadline for a number two pick...wishful thinking I hope

in the NFL QB's are measured not between the 20yd lines but in the red zone where it matters most. henne is in his 4th year and has improved between the 20's. however i must judge him for what he does in the red zone. this is an area where there are tough angles,a short field,everthing is condensed and you need to throw a receiver open. henne cannot do it when it counts. FG's in this area aren't to be celebrated. they will get you beat. we have needed a veteran qb for a long time and failed to address it. the orton courtship failure is on jeff.

Henne is WAY BETTER than folks give him credit for

Look how well he played against the Pats, OVER 400 YDS & Henne beat the Jets sweeping them 2 games just a season ago

Now has a deep threat and some very good WRs to go w a real good(better than R&R)running back



Great Breakdown! First thing that jumps out at me is that If Marshall caught those two TDs, Henne's numbers in the red zone jump from 3 for 8 with 1TD to 5 for 8 with 3 TDs. That would be impressive. I have to say, I was borderline excited to see what Henne could do after his preseason, my expectations were low, and he has certainly surpassed them. Although the team needs a lot of work, I feel like Henne is doing most things right, and he is going to be fun to watch this year. I can put up with mistakes if they are made by a young QB that is learning and moving in the right direction. I love to watch players develop, and I think we finally are about to see a good young QB develop in the Dolphins system. Kudos to Henne, Kudos to Daboll, and kudos to Armondo for always being on top of everything, and even admitting his mistakes or miscalculations. Great job!

Mondo, might as well face it. You are writing about a two bit, no heart, no hussle, sorry coached team. I watched Tampa Bay Vs the Vikings and saw more heart, more "want to" then any Dolphin team in resent memory. "Its the coaching stupid". If the players dont have to practice hard, dont have to hussle, dont have to care then why should the fans have to pay a months salary to watch these boozo's? Not me. Go Buc's

I love coming here to vent...it's free therapy.

Most post are critical, and when you start out 0-2 and are 1-11 in your last 12 home games, they are justified.

The Dolphins of the 1970-1990's are who we identify with. The winning combination of Robbie, Shula & Griese/Marino made the Dolphins a household name.

But since the departure of Robbie/Shula, the Dolphins have never made it past the Divisional Round of the playoffs.(2000 beat the Colts, lost to the Ravens in 2nd round).

1992 was our last AFC championship game (we lost to the Bills).

1984 was our last Superbowl (loss to the 49ers)

Guys...the glory days are OVER and we may never see them again.

Stable ownership is the key, look at the Steelers, Pats, Eagles, Packers...they all have stability at the ownership level with a talented, committed & loyal contingent of VP's, GM's & Coaches.

This once proud franchise is in a free fall and LOSING its fan base at an unthinkable pace.

Winning cures everything in professional sports, but winning year after year creates legendary teams who raise the spirits of the city they inhabit and the fans who follow them like family.

....My dream is to see the Dolphins reclaim that legendary status from the 1970's & 80's.. but in reality they are a franchise in decline who will struggle to keep its fan base.

In our first game, Henne had a nice TD in the middle of the end zone- a laser to Hartline- that we would have never attempted with Henning.

NH, Miami should move to New Hampshire. Then at least we'd get more respect from ESPN.

Red zone play calling and dropped balls is the problem

NOT Chad Henne

Henne is our Franchise QB

Home says, " Win With The Chin!"

"Win With The Chin!"

"Win With The Chin!"

Home says,

Win With The chin!

Best post yet Armando

DC...ESPN respects winners & celebrities. Just look at all the coverage the Heat & LeBron get during B-Ball season.
Moving the Fins to NH does nothing if they remain a losing team.

Win with The Chin!

Win With The Chin!

Home...."The Chin" is Cowher.
Gruden is "Chucky"

I'm confused?

C'mon everyone now,

Win With The Chin!

Chad Henne our Franchise QB

Win With The Chin!

Chad Henne our Franchise QB

C,mon Chad has the hiney chin

Home...just previewed a head shot of Henne online...you are right, Henne does have a hiney chin...very funny.

Any snow in NH yet?

nope...still warm & rainy...snow comes in Nov.

Our WR's as a unit is a joke without Brandon Marshall. With him, respectable..

Our WR's as a unit is a joke without Brandon Marshall. With him, respectable..

late day sun 3:00 PM til 6:00 feels like 100 degrees here in South Florida w mega ultra violet rays.

Have not seen snow in 7-8 yrs since vaca up north in mid Jan

Marshall is a beast at WR and very GOOD at yards after catch.
He just needs to grab the ball in the Endzone.

IMO, he can out jump just about any CB or Safety.

I agree with whoever questioned why even try the fade in that situation? we need inches and had a running back that was playing well. Sometimes they try to get too cute with the play calling. But if you are going to do it, it needs to go to Marshall, who could win the battle

Bess, Hartline and Gates are all real good WRs also

Wallace & Moore r getting there

U gotta be blind or nuts to think these guys are not real good

But inside the 5, we NEED to pound the rock, it's just that simple!


I agree Henne can be a franchise QB, Someone posted Carson Palmer could be here for a second pick.


then we bench Henne which is not deserved and then Palmer comes in with this line and becomes Carson Pancake, then we are back with the better QB in Henne.

Good use for a 2nd pick, whay wasn't Mckinney signed? anyone? WTF!

Has anyone noticed that Carey was better on the outside than Columbo? OUCH!

I heard the team was ready to leave for Cleveland stadium and columbo was not at the airport... when they found him he was still at the stadium in his 3 point stance from the 3rd quarter of the New england game!



I got your post back to me this morning from yesterday. I also read some of your comments from yesterday. I agree with a lot of what you said. Yes, I think a lot of it is system and a lot of it is coaching. So I wonder if it's completely fair or even reasonable for us to expect the offence to be top notch after Daboll only working with them since the first week of August. Not an excuse, just a question. You're right we need a better system, or at least better execution of the system. For me, most of the players are there. Sure they could be upgraded. But they should be better than what they've shown at home the last two weeks....end of story.

I think for me, and guys won't like it, I want to see more from Henne before I would want to make that decision that we are definitely taking a first round QB next April. There are good signs there and there are also signs that are other holes on our team. It's good that a decision on this doesn't have to be made until next April.

What is the world make some of you guys think Chad Henne is a franchise QB? Sam Bradford is a second year QB and I see more potential with him. He needs a better Oline also receivers but he has more poise in the pocket and is deadly accurate. Henne is not a franchise QB! Serviceable QB yes not a franchise guy!

DKM, I don't think either bradford or henne has shown anything to be considered a frachize QB right now. Franchize QBs don't miss playoffs that often.
Breez wasn't a franchize QB early in his career either. Neither was manning. I think we should go ahead and draft a 1st round QB next year since we'll be picking in top 10. There are 2 or 3 top 10 quality QBs in next years draft. I do think we should still re-sign henne as well.

the fins are o-2, the season is still young. missed oppourtunities can be to blame but ONE important element is noticably absent and working against us at the same time, and that is surprise. maybe the pat's hurry-up wasn't a big surprise, but the fact that they used it almost the WHOLE game WAS, and i'm convinced as well that tony thought he'd see that triple TE set more of a gadget rather then a staple, the pat's are good but surprise was in their corner and not ours. since most teams can only see what miami has shown them so far on film, and being that once before sparano drew the line after an 0-2 start to win the division, i'm hoping that tony is contemplating some new looks. daniel thomas is a good start, but exploiting reggie's talent as a reciever should and could be another, also i think mike nolan might want to revisit game 1 of 2010 against buffalo where starks played nose tackle, the D-LINE looked awsesome until ODRICK went down with injury, maybe at least nolan can integrate this as a defensive gadget or more. and i still beleive that nothing but good can come from taking a page from the pat's triple TE set, at least by practicing it we might actually learn how to defend it, further i think teams might be expecting to see it(3TE), but if successful, i don't anticaipate teams expecting us to use it every other play as we experienced. so all this might be a recipe for success, and it might be an aweful lot of work, and even though these things, hurry-up and all might give us the advantage of surprise, the most unanticipated and biggest surprise of all would be the fact that miami actually made a smart decision and found the time to impliment them, as no one is seriously expecting us to successfully operate the hurry-up, or use reggie correctly, or repair our defensive front seven, or deliver a huge dose of a successful triple TE set, which by the way would be even more effective if LOU POLITE was still here, as would the short yardage game. i hope team speed picks-up. and i am really excited about daniel thomas, fresh legs, smart decision, can't knock tony for that one! go thomas!


Bradford nearly bought the Rams to the playoffs last year and had decent numbers stat wise for a rookie QB. I think he def can/will be a franchise QB if he's healthy. Henne not so sure about.

Exactly what I said in a post right here yesterday, Armando. Marshal has dropped two sure touchdown catches, both of which could have changed the game.
Just to add insult to injury, I would have won my fantasy game this week if he had not dropped the pass so perfectly depicted in the images above.

Good job, Reader. You went the extra mile.


I agree with you. How is Sam Bradford annointed a franchise QB? Because he went first overall in the draft? Because all the draft gurus said he was? Didn't they say the same about Russell and Leaf? Don't you actually have to do something before you're automatically annointed a franchise QB? Oh, you're saying he took his team to a 7-9 record last year after winning 2-3 games the year before? Fair enough. But isn't his team also 0-2 this year, like the Dolphins? Oh, it's not his fault? His team's had injuries to key people and he's had nobody to throw to. Fair enough. But aren't you really arguing what many of us have been arguing about Henne all this time? Seems to me DKM you want to change the story to fit your opinion of Henne and Bradford. I say, let's see a guy actually DO something before we annoint him a franchise QB.

The #1 issue for the Dolphins:

They are not as mentally prepared as their competition have been.

Their games have been lost before they began.

Ross needs to hire a head coach that players can believe in. Sparano does not belong among the other coaches in the AFC East.

Belichick, Ryan, Gailey...Sparano.

One of these things is not like the others.


I also remind you that in the most important game of the year last year against that powerhouse of a team the Seattle Seahawks, Bradford laid a complete egg of a game and threw three interceptions in a must win season finale to make the playoffs. So much for that, in a 13-6 defeat. Guys that are annointed 'franchise' QBs at this point win this games.

DKM, Henne has done things and has never had good time in the pocket. He can make almost every throw. In just 2 weeks in this offense, he has made a couple bad throws, but puts us in positions to win games against good teams with sub-par time.

He even put his body on the line for the good of the team.

Those are traits of a franchise QB, all other franchise QB's you want to say exist have a GREAT coach or system and or o-line.

Henne has none of those and has still been moderatly successful. That would lead for SOME to believe he can be a franchise QB.

I am one of the SOME.

There are others that think he sucks, go ahead and think that, but there are reasons for some to believe in him, and I do.

either way we draft a quality QB next year IMO.

Craig M,

Bradford posted better number is rookie season than Henne did his 4th sesaon. I get it your a Homer. Henne has more talent around him than Bradford, yet the Rams and Dolphins had the same record last year. All im saying is Bradford is futher along than Henne was in his second season and will be better in the future as well.

Chad Henne Miami Dolphins Franchise QB

Henne has earned it, esp w the poor o-line for his entire start as a Miami Dolphin

This is what the infamous o-line coach Tony Sparano and the organization has dealt him Chad Henne far :(

Henne has not had a deep WR threat that can catch,
or one that can catch but is afraid to be physical & "go 4 the ball"
WR Clyde Gates is not afraid of the physical game of TACKLE football & can CATCH W BLAZING SPEED

RB Daniel Thomas is BETTER than Ricky or Ronnie have been in the last 3-4 yrs

Chad has been training hard, w footwork, stance,looking off w receivers,firing quick and hard and running this offense

and it SHOWS!

The drives in the Patriots game by Chad Henne and 59 Yds rushing were AMAZING

Chad Henne is NOT the problem

Chad Henne & Brian Daboll & (a HC named Chucky)& of all of our WRs + RB Thomas ARE THE SOLUTION

Go Dolphins !!!

The comments to this entry are closed.