Laid-back quarterback Chad Henne might have found his comfort zone on the field by learning to relax and letting the game come to him
BY JEFF DARLINGTONjdarlington@MiamiHerald.com
Standing behind a lectern in a roomful of familiar reporters, Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne started firing clichés like passes during practice, one after another in a format generally duplicated every Wednesday in this same sterile setting.
It is almost as if Henne blacks out during these news conferences and begins saying things he would never say in a normal conversation.
This is Chad Henne, the quarterback of the Miami Dolphins. This is the laid-back, fun-loving person who would remind you of every friend you had in college. This is the dude more fans should have the pleasure of meeting.
Did you see Henne on Sunday, too? Did you agree he looked more comfortable than he has all season, more like the player you might recall from 2009? It almost makes you wonder: Is there a chance his demotion had an impact.
``Well, I think I took a step back and kind of looked at myself and where we're at as a team and as a player,'' Henne said. ``For me now, it's about going out and making it a new beginning. It's kind of opening up a new couple flames out there and just having fun with it. Realizing that this isn't life or death right here.
``It's a fun game to play.''
This is not to say Henne has found the secret to being elite. After all, those who get frustrated by his occasionally mind-boggling interceptions probably don't want to see Henne throw caution into the wind anymore than he does already.
This is also not to say Henne should be more laid-back when it comes to preparations, either. His approach to film study and practice are not part of this discussion.
It is, however, to suggest that Henne's ability to be himself -- to play the way he knows how and act with his natural demeanor -- could play a major role in his success during the final five games of the season.
``I thought he seemed really comfortable [Sunday],'' wide receiver Brian Hartline said. ``We didn't miss a beat. He didn't show any hesitation. He didn't seem worried about making a mistake -- it was almost like he realized it was his job.''
Coach Tony Sparano saw a little something different, too.
On one occasion, when Henne went to the sideline to discuss an upcoming play with Sparano and quarterbacks coach David Lee, the quarterback showed Sparano a level of command that displayed some genuine confidence.
``He looks at us, and we're in this third down critical situation, and he says, `Look, I don't want this. I don't want this 258 play. I like these two plays,' '' Sparano said. ``He throws out two plays that are very well thought out.''
Maybe it is just coincidence that Henne looked more comfortable in the wake of his demotion, leading to two touchdowns and four passes of 25 yards or more. Maybe it's farfetched to pin one game of success on a new sense of self-awareness.
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