Posted: 11:50 am Saturday, June 5th, 2010
By Post Staff
After adding the league’s best receiver this offseason and paying $22 million for an inside linebacker, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross isn’t acting shy about his team’s chances in 2010.
Speaking at Miami Beach High on Saturday morning, where the school unveiled its new Ross Field in honor of the $82,000 contribution made by the Dolphins owner and 1958 graduate, Ross said he expects big things from his team this year following last year’s disappointing 7-9 finish.
“I think in February we’re going to be playing in the Super Bowl,” Ross said. “Let’s put it this way: (Tony Sparano) thinks that, too. So does every player on that team. So I don’t think there’s any pressure. You just got to go out and do it.”
Easier said than done, of course. The Dolphins faltered down the stretch in 2009, losing their final three games to miss the playoffs. The offensive line is a work in progress, they have a big hole at free safety and they will be led by an inexperienced, soon-to-be-25-year-old Chad Henne, who enters his first full season as a starter. Last year, he was ranked No. 22 in passer rating (75.2) and threw eight interceptions in the fourth quarter and overtime.
None of those stats stopped Ross from gushing about Henne on Saturday morning, though. Ross and Henne are both Michigan men, and Ross said he thinks Henne has the potential to be the greatest quarterback in franchise history — a franchise that already has a certain No. 13 enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
“Chad has been the greatest quarterback university of Michigan has had,” Ross told a crowd of several hundred kids and football coaches, “and I’m sure that I’m hoping, as is everyone else, that he goes down as the greatest quarterback in Miami dolphins history — and you know what that will mean.”
Ross later said he doesn’t think he’s putting too much pressure on Henne.
“Chad Henne can handle pressure, that I can tell you,” Ross said. “He started at the University of Michigan as a true freshman, playing in front of 110,000 people and leading them to the Big Ten championship as a true freshman. I think the Miami Dolphins have a great quarterback for the future and I think everybody in South Florida is excited about what Chad Henne brings to this team.”
Other notes from the Fins Weekend charity events:
– Ross said it was a “no-brainer” to donate the $82,000 to renovate his high school’s field, a number that was matched by the Dolphins organization, and said it is “exciting” to have a field named after himself. “It’s something I never would have anticipated in my life,” Ross said. “Let’s put it this way – they didn’t name the field after me for my athletic feats, or my scholastic feats.”
– Defensive end Phillip Merling, arrested last month for domestic violence against his pregnant girlfriend, attended Thursday night’s end-of-2009 banquet in Aventura and received a nice round of applause from the crowd when he was introduced with the rest of the defensive linemen.
– The only two noticeable no-shows Thursday night: Chad Pennington and Ronnie Brown.
– Longtime broadcaster Jim Mandich served as emcee for the Thursday banquet, a day after a 15-hour chemotherapy treatment for bile-duct cancer. He said he is doing well and his prognosis is good.
– Sparano said Thursday night that the Dolphins will open 2010 training camp on July 30, though a spokesman said it could open on the 29th.
– At Friday’s charity golf tournament at Turnberry Country Club, Dolfan Daniel Gilbraith hit a hole-in-one on the 11th hole of the Miller Course, winning a three-year lease for a Ford Taurus. The groups led by rookie linebackers A.J. Edds and Austin Spitler won the event.