Henning Has Backing

Dan Henning isn't very popular in South Florida right now, but the league's oldest offensive play-caller remains a trusted ally in the eyes of his boss.

Asked to assess Henning's performance this year in coordinating the league's second-lowest scoring offense (17.1 points per game), Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano didn't hold back. Instead, he delivered a spirited defense of Henning that surely will send the majority of Dolphins fans running straight for another shot of holiday eggnog (spiked version).

"I think that Dan Henning for Tony Sparano has been tremendous," Sparano said. "I think that the guy has done a wonderful job here in my time here. Again, I look at the entire body of work. You guys just look at the last three, four games, whatever it is. I look at the whole body of work, and this guy's really done a tremendous job.

"You know, he's the same guy we were all talking about: 'Man, oh, man, he finds ways to use personnel to the best of their ability.' ... OK, that was you people saying that, not me. So I would tell you that for Tony Sparano, Dan Henning has been tremendous."

That may have been the case in 2008, when Henning's play calls helped Chad Pennington challenge for the league MVP award. That might even have been the case in 2009, when the Dolphins still had the league's No. 4 rushing offense.

But this year? Not so much. The Dolphins ranked 21st in rushing offense and 17th in passing offense after Sunday's 17-14 loss to the Bills.

Most expect Henning, 68, to retire at season's end, but if he chooses to forge on, it sounds as though Sparano would welcome him back. If, that is, Sparano himself is back in 2011.

"It's easy to point blame, fellas, and I get it," Sparano said. "It comes with the territory. That's the way it goes. I need to do a better job. Tony Sparano needs to do a better job."


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