Dan Henning went all D.B. Cooper when he parachuted from the Miami Dolphins after last season. He was largely blamed for the Dolphins' offensive woes and might've been the most unpopular member of the organization -- until Stephen Ross publicly humiliated Tony Sparano.
By then, Henning had stepped down as offensive coordinator and disappeared.
Six months later, Palm Beach Post reporter Ben Volin tracked him down. Henning talked about his three seasons, which were supposed to be just two when old pal Bill Parcells convinced him to come out of retirement in 2008.
Dolfans expected big things from their boys last year. They'd won the AFC East title in 2008 and slipped to 7-9 the next season, but Chad Henne had a season of NFL starts to his credit and was the clear starter. Ricky Williams was coming off a 1,000-yard season and the Dolphins traded for Brandon Marshall, the presumed missing piece to unlocking the offense.
The Dolphins floundered. They finished 30th in scoring and 21st in yardage. A once-proud ground game also checked it 21st. Their passing offense was 16th.
Henning was the popular scapegoat. I never bought into that sentiment. Henning and quarterbacks coach David Lee were considered progressive-minded wizards when they installed the Wildcat offense and helped the Dolphins go from 1-15 to the division title.
"What we accomplished, with what we took over, was a very good thing for everybody’s feelings down there, that there was still a spark," Henning told Volin. "And there was a great deal of enjoyment in being able to turn it around like that."
The difference, of course, wasn't that Henning got stupid overnight. The loss of Chad Pennington at quarterback was what dropped the team's collective IQ.
But Henning said he still believes in Henne.
"I feel like Chad will get the opportunity to turn it around; I really do," Henning said. "He's always ready to do what you ask him to do, very studious about the game, good questions, aware of personalities and idiosyncrasies with player personnel that he has to deal with. No problem working with Chad Henne."