Live by a Chad, Die by a Chad

The buck stops here. Apparently so does winning.

The rumblings around South Florida only grew louder after Sunday’s loss in Cleveland: Tony Sparano has got to go.

Even Dan Marino said before the game that Tony Sparano’s seat was the hottest in the league. Then the Dolphins went and blew a late 4th quarter lead and lost to the hapless Cleveland Browns in spectacular boring fashion.

Is it really fair to blame Sparano?

A coach is only as good as his quarterback, and Miami’s Coach is going down largely because of his quarterback.

While many within the organization applaud the man himself, it’s obvious that Tony Sparano’s career as an NFL Head Coach has been a tale of two Chads.

"Don't worry kid. You'll do fine"

2008: Bill Parcells brought Sparano in as his protege, and he immediately turned around the disgusting 1-15 program program he inherited.

Chad Pennington was Sparano’s first on-field General, and his comeback season (3653 yards, 19 TDs, 7 INTs) led the Dolphins to an 11-5 record.

The Fins won the AFC East, but lost to the Ravens in the first round of the playoffs. Dolfans had their first taste of the postseason since 2001, and everyone felt that more was in store.

Chad finished 2nd in MVP voting to Peyton Manning. Tony Sparano was a genius and came in 2nd in balloting for AP Coach of the year.


2009: Pennington got hurt in Game 3 and in came Chad Henne. Henne showed signs of decency, but blew at least 6 games with late-game choke-fests, including ending most of those games with interceptions on possible comeback/victory drives. Fins finished 7-9.

Although the previously 11-5 team disappointed with 4 less wins, Sparano got a reprieve because of Pennington’s injury and the young QB.


2010: The Dolphins went out and signed stud WR Brandon Marshall to help Henne do his thing. Henne started the season at QB and led the Fins to a bland, lucky 4-4 start. Sparano lamely brought back a paper-shouldered Pennington in Game 9 to save the day, but that Chad re-broke himself on his first play. Sparano went back to Henne, with a goofy “my bad” smile on his face. Henne then went down in the 3rd quarter and Sparano had to resort to Tyler Thigpen. Thigpen was flashy, spontaneous and goes off-script; basically all Sparano no-nos.

2 games later, Sparano returned, hat in hand, to the QB everyone knew he had no confidence in. Henne started the rest of the season, which instantly became an exercise in stifling laughter.

The Dolphins finished 21st in total offense, 16th in passing. Henne finished with 3301 yards, 15TDs and 19 INTs. Not exactly a QB on the rise.

Another 7-9 season felt like a gift.

The song says "we take the ball from goal to goal", but I only hear the part where they say "like no one's ever seen"

To be fair to Henne, it was widely whispered that Henning’s tight offense and Sparano’s dictatorial philosophies turned Henne into a QB-zombie. Henne wasn’t trusted with anything in the constraints of Henning’s offense. He wasn’t even allowed to call his own audibles or hot routes; he was given an “A” play and and alternate check-down “B” play. That was it, creativity not welcome.

Henne’s misery was obvious. He played passionless football. He never smiled and always looked like a drunk shar pei dog stuck in a football helmet.

But the understandable excuses only buy Henne a little leeway. He showed signs of studliness, but his calling card became late game failures. He failed when needed. His 4th quarter passer rating of 55.6 was the second worst in the NFL (thank you Mark Sanchez). Henne choked in 5 of those losses with victory on the line.

Bottom line: Chad Henne doesn’t have “it”.  The “it” you need in a franchise Quarterback.

Suddenly, Tony Sparano was a “bum”.

Owner Stephen Ross’s public gaffe of interviewing Jim Harbaugh alerted everyone that Sparano’s job was at stake. Ross then made a bad situation worse by overcompensating and giving his suddenly-trusted Coach a raise and an extension.

A coach has never looked less thrilled to get a vote of confidence

Tony Sparano repeated the exact same mistake as his owner and publicly shopped for Henne’s replacement. Fans embarrassingly cried for Kyle Orton, a quarterback of a 4-12 team last year. The organization instead brought in Matt Moore, a quarterback of a 2-14 team.

Sparano’s job would be tied to Henne once more.


2011: Game 1, Henne started the season in a big way. He and Tom Brady combined for the most prolific offensive night (in yardage) ever for a tandem of QBs.

Henne looked like a completely different QB. He ran across the field, showed passion and intensity, and more importantly, his throws were on point.

But anyone who watched the game knowed the Fins lost because of Henne’s horrific performance in the red zone (3 TDs in 6 Chances). He basically refused to hit Brandon Marshall in the endzone on numerous opportunities. Worst of all he choked when needed. 4th and Goal from the half-yard line and he launches a  toss way past Brian Hartline that proved to be the difference. Sure the play-calling was atrocious, but the execution was worse.

"The scoreboard doesn't say we're leading does it? Ok, phew. I didn't think so."

Game 2, Henne was again reliable between the 20’s, but choked in the red zone (1 TD in 4 Chances). Once again the Fins blew an opportunity to make it interesting, because Henne couldn’t bring his team back. Game-ending interception.

Game 3. Henne looked stellar for most of the game (19/29 for 255, TD/INT) but again choked in the red zone (1 for 3). Fins had a chance at the end, but kicked a field goal after another drive stalled inside the 20 yd line. To make matters worse, Colt McCoy shined under pressure and led his team down the field to take the lead with moments left.

The Dolphins still had a chance to win after a flurry of gifts: a BS celebration penatly, a long runback and a horse-collar penalty gave the Fins great field position. All they needed was 10 yards for a realistic FG for kicker Dan Carpenter. What does Henne do? 4 downs. 0 yards.

Unofficially that’s 5 TDs in 13 trips to the redzone. That doesn’t even include a couple of drives that stalled directly at the 20 yard line. Out of those 5 TDs, 1 was a short screen pass, and 3 were runs (though 1 by Henne himself). Not exactly a recipe for success.

Miami fans have suffered through 1 win and 11 losses in their last 12 games at Joe Robbie, Pro Player, Sun Life Stadium dating back to Chirstmas of 2009.

Chad Henne has grown noticeably since new OC Brian Daboll has come on board, but you just can’t ignore the disastrous redzone miscues.

Overall, Henne is 13-17 as a starter, and 6-14 in his last 20 games.

Tony Sparano is 25-24 since he started in 2008.

In order to save the season, the Fins need to win at least 10 of their next 13 games. Not likely.

Tony Sparano, the ultimate cheerleader, is going to lose his job because there is nothing cheer for in the club he leads.

The buck certainly stops with the Coach, but Tony Sparano’s career will be remembered for the Chad he rode to fame, and sadly, for the Chad he rode to flames.


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