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Chad Henne and the Dolphins Pass Defense
By on June 29, 2011 at 12:10 pm

This one’s going to stir it up.

Did Chad Henne have a better 2010 season than the Dolphins pass defense? Almost all of you would say no. And understandably. Henne struggled at times and as all quarterbacks do, got the brunt of the fans’ frustrations thrown upon him. The defense, meanwhile, had a resurgent year under new coordinator Mike Nolan and we continued to see guys like Vontae Davis and Sean Smith mature in the secondary. All of that said, I read an interesting SI.com article by Kerry J. Byrne last week that really got me thinking.

The article basically says that Passer Rating Differential (the difference between your QB’s passer rating and your defense’s) is the most important stat in football and that if you have a good one, you’re going to be good, and if not, you’re not. While I tend to look at the argument through the other side of the mirror (“if you are a good team, you’ll have a good PRD, and if you’re not, you won’t), I was still able to take some interesting things out of the story.

Byrne tells us that 40 of the past 71 NFL champions (56%) finished either first or second in PRD, which makes sense. In addition, the team with the best PRD in 2010 was the Packers (who won the Super Bowl) and the team with the worst, Carolina, finished 2-14 and had the #1 pick in the draft.

I decided I was interested in applying the stat to the Dolphins’ 2010 season and so I looked at Chad Henne’s passer rating (75.4) and the defense’s (85.0). The -9.6 PRD was pretty much middle-of-the-pack in the league, as the Dolphins 7-9 record would indicate.

I then went back and looked at the average offensive and defensive passer ratings for the last decade’s Super Bowl winners (2000 Ravens-2011 Packers) and something immediately stood out to me: Chad Henne was closer to the average passer rating of the last 11 Super Bowl winning quarterbacks than the Dolphins pass defense was to the last 11 Super Bowl winning pass defenses.

It’s true. Over the last decade, the average Super Bowl winning QB had a passer rating of 88.3 (12.9 points better than Henne) and those teams’ defenses had an average of 67.8 (17.2 better than the Dolphins’ defense last year).

So basically, Henne was closer to the “magic number” than the Dolphins’ pass “D” was and in fact, in the last decade, there were two times when the SB winning QB had a lower passer rating than Henne did in 2010 (’07 Giants & ’00 Ravens), but zero examples of a Super Bowl winning defense with a number as high as last season’s defensive passer rating.

I don’t think passer rating is the end-all, be-all stat, but this was definitely an interesting study. When I asked former Dolphins CB Sam Madison what he thought about all this, he brought up something many fans are fully aware of: missed opportunities by the defense in 2010. The Dolphins were tied for 28th in the NFL with just 11 interceptions last year and their leading interceptor, Jason Allen, was on the roster for only half the season.

The bottom line is this: Chad Henne has work to do, but the Dolphins’ “D” must take advantage of their opportunities in 2011 if they want to be considered an elite unit. I’m sure Tony Sparano, Davis, Smith, Henne, and everyone else would tell you that improvement is needed across the board. And that, more than anything, is the goal for this coming season.


Please Note:
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
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Ryan says:

well i thank chad henne is a good QB not all QBs are good right off the bat i thank he will be the next Dan Marino

FISH4LIFE says:

STATS don’t distinguish between early 1st half fluff numbers and late drive choking. Henne simply doesn’t have……”IT”….We all know what IT is. I don’t ever SEE or HEAR anything about him being “the MAN” in the huddle, on the sideline or in the locker room. I’ve never seen him yelling onside lines at others to get it going or slapping someone on the azz to say great job. I guess I’m saying too that he’s not the leader a NFL QB needs to be. That’s something that has to come from the inside. It can’t be faked. We have the weapons on OFFENSE now (I hope they add Z MILLER) so if he is going to do anything he better do it soon!! Chad I hope you read this a I light the spark!!! :)

Christian says:

I hope improvement across the board is what they do this year. If Chad can pull it of, then I wish him the best. I hope his teammates don’t share the same sentiments about their lack in confidence in him. If so, we are doom!

padre35 says:

Pass D did not throw 2 game losing int’s at home in the 4th qtr, the quest to use stats to mask what our own eyes saw continues Finsjesse, such things as throwing dump off passes in the first blowout loss to the patriots, in the 4th qtr, down by 28 pts, Henne was throwing check downs.

lies, damn lies, then statistics.

Jesse Agler says:

stats have a place….but i guess my overall point is that there’s work to be done on the other side of the ball, too. i feel like too many people think henne is THE problem and everything else being equal, they’d be a 12-win team. work to be done in other places, too.