What Does Dan Henning Bring to the Dolphins?

by Chris Nelson on February 8, 2008 @ 00:32:06 PDT


After a year without a true offensive coordinator and former head coach Cam Cameron calling the plays himself in 2007, the Miami Dolphins have hired long-time NFL coach Dan Henning as their offensive coordinator. Henning was most recently the offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers, reaching two NFC championships and one Super Bowl. He brings with him 28 years of NFL coaching experience including two stints as a head coach, and becomes Miami's first offensive coordinator since Mike Mularkey held the title in 2006.


A quarterback at William & Mary, Henning went to training camp a few times with the San Diego Chargers in the mid-1960s and also played in the Continental Football League.

Henning landed his first coaching job in 1968 as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Florida State University. Over the next 39 years, Henning held positions for various teams at the college and pro levels. He has been a positional coach for Virginia Tech, Florida State, the New York Jets and the Dolphins under Don Shula. He has been an offense coordinator for Florida State, Virginia Tech, the Washington Redskins, the Detroit Lions, the New York Jets, the Buffalo Bills and the Panthers. Henning has also held three head coaching positions - with the Atlanta Falcons from 1983-86, the Chargers from 1989-1991 and Boston College from 1994-96.

Conservative Play-Calling: Good or Bad?

Henning's play-calling has often been called conservative, unimaginative at times and occasionally puzzling. However, armchair play-callers often hang themselves up on a few unsuccessful plays. They claim he runs when he should pass and passes when he should run. Hindsight is 20/20, after all.

While criticisms of Henning's play-calling and conservative nature may or may not be well-founded, one thing that is definitive at the moment is Miami lacks the personnel on offense to be anything but conservative. The Dolphins' run blocking was far superior to its pass protection in 2007, and the team lacks a set, reliable quarterback. The team does figure to be quite deep in the backfield with running backs Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams and Lorenzo Booker all under contract. As a result, a commitment to the running game is not just what can be expected, it looks to be the smart thing to do.

Fantasy Impact

As previously discussed, the Dolphins' personnel and Henning's track record indicate an emphasis on the running game in 2008. If Brown can fully recover from his torn ACL in time for the season, he should pick up where he left off as the focal point of the offense and a reliable fantasy back. With halfback Jesse Chatman a free agent and Williams currently the top backup, he would have to be considered as well.

In the passing game, second-year receiver Ted Ginn Jr. looks to be the one to keep an eye on. While Henning has typically been a run-first play-caller, Pro Bowl Panthers receiver Steve Smith always seemed to find success in Carolina. Ginn has similar speed, as well as deep-play ability, will likely see increased playing time in the offense; he could also provide points (depending on your scoring system) on kickoff and punt returns.

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About Chris Nelson

Chris Nelson is a college student at Georgia State University currently majoring in journalism. Chris has been playing fantasy baseball and football for nearly a decade. He one day hopes to be a beat writer for the Miami Dolphins while eventually reaching the pinnacle of sports journalism, that being the ability to write about coffee, traveling, kids softball and whatever else he wants, all the while being paid good money by a national publication to do it. He has been a KFFL contributor since 2006.

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