DAVIE, FLA. (AP) - A text message Chad Pennington received at home provided the first hint of a promotion.
“That ‘please’ kind of threw me,” Pennington said later.
Starting quarterbacks enjoy deferential treatment, and Pennington is again No. 1. Sparano announced the change Wednesday, pulling the plug on the Chad Henne experiment in favor of a 34-year-old coming off the latest operation on his right shoulder.
The Dolphins (4-4) play host to Tennessee on Sunday, when Pennington will make his first start since his season-ending shoulder injury in Week 3 last year. He contemplated retirement but re-signed with Miami, where he has won praise as Henne’s mentor.
The two are good friends, and they met for an hour Tuesday after being informed of the lineup change.
“We got teary-eyed, because we have a really good relationship,” Pennington said. “The good thing about this situation is he’s on the front end of his career, and I’m on the back end of mine. So we’re not two dogs fighting over the same piece of meat.”
“I’m going to stick by him and help him out as much as I can, and we’re in it together,” Henne said. “We’re in it to win a championship.”
The Dolphins began the season believing they were set for years to come with Henne. He became the starter in his second NFL season last year and threw for 2,878 yards, and he was on pace for 3,800 this year.
But the offense has scored only 11 touchdowns, which ties for second-worst in the NFL.
“The quarterbacks a lot of times are the ones put on the cross if things aren’t going well,” running back Ronnie Brown said. “They get the brunt of the backlash. But we’re all responsible for what we’re supposed to do.”
In 21 career starts, Henne has topped 300 yards five times, which is more than any passer in the Dolphins‘ 45-year history except Dan Marino. But Henne threw 23 interceptions and only 20 touchdown passes while leading Miami to a record of 11-10.
“There are obviously things that I can want back,” Henne said. “Turnovers glare at you, and some of the decision-making.”