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Around the AFC East, Week 2: The Phinsider

Jets fans can relate with a quarterback competition. In the second week of our divisional roundtable, Matty I of The Phinsider fields a question from me on the potential for a controversy to develop in South Florida in 2009.

In the eyes of the Dolphins' front office, there is no quarterback controversy. However, quarterback controversies are generated by fans and media and tend to take on a life of their own. There are already rumblings of a potential controversy in Miami. Under what circumstances do you think a majority of Dolphins fans will want Chad Henne under center in 2009? What are the odds he becomes starting quarterback at some point this season aside from Chad Pennington getting hurt? (From John B)

When will Henne get his shot?  As long as Pennington is healthy and the Dolphins are mathematically in the playoff hunt, I don’t see any reason Henne will get to start in 2009.  If Pennington was to get hurt or if he just struggles and the Dolphins fall out of the playoff race by December, I think we could see Henne make his first career start.  The real interesting question will come following the ’09 season – at which time Pennington is a free agent and Henne will be entering his third offseason in this system.  What will the front office do then?  But I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Ah yes – the “Chads” debate.  This is something that has been hotly argued throughout the offseason.  Let’s preface this by saying, like you point out, that the Dolphins have made it no secret that Chad Pennington is the starting quarterback of this team.  He had an MVP-type season in 2008 (finished 2nd in the voting) and coach Tony Sparano made it a point to say during the post-game press conference following Miami’s loss to Baltimore in the playoffs that Pennington was “his guy.”  I’d say that his teammates would agree when I say Pennington is the leader of that team on the offensive side of the ball.  And personally, I have absolutely no worries about CP as our starter in 2009.

But as you said, the media and the fans usually drive these quarterback controversies to a point where they become a distraction.  Luckily, I don’t see this happening in Miami.  Chad Pennington has made it a point to teach Chad Henne all he can even though Pennington knows he’s essentially grooming his eventual replacement.  And Henne has made it a point to soak up everything he can from Pennington to better himself.  In fact, Henne was asked about his relationship with Pennington following the team’s first OTA this week, to which Henne responded, “It’s been tremendous.  I’m right by his side all the time.”

So I think we’ve gotten lucky here in that the dynamic between the current starter and the future starter is perfect.

For what it's worth, I think Matty hits the nail on the head. As long as the Dolphins win, nobody will be calling for a change at the position, regardless of how much people may like Henne. Head over to The Phinsider for more AFC East discussion.