Jake Long: Chad Henne will prove it

Jake Long has been protecting Chad Henne a while now.

As left tackle at the University of Michigan and the Miami Dolphins, Long has been Henne's director of security since 2006.

So when it comes to critics who think Henne might be Miami's biggest question mark, Long will come to his quarterback's defense.

"I don't see why people dog him," Long told me over the phone after Tuesday's practice.

A few hours earlier, ESPN.com posted John Clayton's quarterback rankings, with Henne listed 24th. Dolfans likely disagree with that particular assessment. Still, there's a commonly held perception Henne might not be able to carry the offense.

"Rankings don't mean anything to me," Long said. "You've got to go out there and prove it. Chad's going to go out there and prove to everybody that he's going to be a great quarterback in this league. I have no doubt in that."

Henne was thrust into the starting role last year when Chad Pennington suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 3. Henne kept the Dolphins postseason hopes afloat deep into December. He completed 60.8 percent of his passes for 2,878 yards and 12 touchdowns with 14 interceptions.

Skepticism emanates from a rough final few weeks. He threw three interceptions in a Week 12 loss to the Buffalo Bills. The Dolphins dropped their last three games, with Henne throwing three touchdown passes and five interceptions.

In general, though, Henne showed why the Dolphins viewed him as their quarterback of the future when they drafted him in the second round in 2008. Plus, the Dolphins have added star receiver Brandon Marshall to open up the offense and let Henne show off his arm more than he could last year with a group of possession receivers.

Long is reminded of when Henne arrived on the Michigan campus and started as a true freshman.

"I've seen him prove people wrong," Long said. "When he got thrown in last year, when Pennington got hurt, he really became the leader on our offense. He's the rock of our offense, the leader of our offense. Everybody here has total faith in him.

"I've never seen him get flustered. If something happens and he gets sacked and makes a bad play or whatever, he gets right back up in there and never shies away.

"He's not a question mark. He's going to have a really good season."