The world needs to be reminded that the acquisition of Chad Pennington does not change the Miami Dolphins’ (mis)fortunes.
It does provide for a wonderful sports’ story, but that does not translate well to logical sports’ analysis.
It’s actually quite sickening.
Are football fans to understand that the New York Jets were in for trouble this season with Chad Pennington at quarterback, but he has a fighting chance with a less talented Miami Dolphins’ team?
Jets’ fans dealt with Pennington criticisms from every angle over the last few seasons.
While his resilience has always been respected, it’s amazing that Pennington’s lack of arm strength from a twice repaired shoulder, his susceptibility to injury, and inability to win games in the fourth quarter is no longer a factor.
No one can deny Pennington’s fighter spirit, but Jets’ fans know what Pennington is capable of. His tenacity as a competitor will not trigger the single-handed victory he never accomplished in all his seasons with the New York Jets.
The secret to Chad Pennington’s success has always been a strong defense and effective running game.
While Ricky Williams has played well throughout the preseason, and Ronnie Brown appears to be returning to full health, Chadwick does not have a shutdown defense to lock up any lead he can build.
He’s also missing the tough receivers that can take a beating in the middle of the field on timing patterns.
Imaginations have been running wild as people believe Pennington can convert Ted Ginn Jr. into a middle-of-the-field possession receiver, a la Jerricho Cotchery or Laveraneus Coles.
Ginn is more comparable to another small, speedy receiver Pennington once played with.
Santana Moss was utilized in a special teams capacity, and subjected to returning punts. He did make some tough catches in the middle of the field, but Jets’ fans knew that Moss’ true strength was his breakaway speed up the field.
When Moss was no longer restrained by Pennington’s physical limitations, he responded with a Pro Bowl season in Washington.
But Dolphins’ fans and clever sports writers will tell you that Pennington’s knowledge of the New York Jets’ defense places him at an advantage. It’s easy to believe such a thing, but that’s the romantic aspect of the game.
The entire NFL knows Chad’s tendencies and weaknesses—especially his former team.
Hilarity ensues when Brett Favre’s inexperience with a new team is referenced, yet similiar issues with Pennington in Miami are neglected.
While Favre faces chemistry and timing issues as a first-time starter for the Jets, it’s forgotten that Pennington hasn’t been a Dolphin for much time either. Both players are in unfamiliar systems with new receivers, but one quarterback in this equation is a better player, has superior targets, and has a much more talented team around him.
There is no doubt that Pennington will play with a bit more emotion on his side. His Comeback Player of the Year award came at a time when he felt his back was to the wall and no one believed in him.
However, Pennington had a better supporting cast then than he does now.
Unfortunately for Dolphins’ fans, Chad will not be kicking the ball, rushing the quarterback, or even calling the plays on Sunday. His resiliency is only as impressive as the men around him.
It really is quite the story though.
If this was a movie, Chad Pennington would be the underdog the audience roots for, a la Shane Falco in The Replacements.
You all remember Keanu Reeves portrayal of a quarterback that comes back to lead his team of misfits to victory despite insurmountable odds. He gets the win, the respect, and the girl.
The reason people like those kinds of feel-good stories is because they never happen in real life.
Miami hasn’t defeated New York since December 18th, 2005.
Outside of the New York Jets’ 40-13 victory last season, all games have been decided by a margin of three points in the Jets’ favor.
Perhaps the small margins of victory are what people remember when they seek to justify their inflated perceptions of Miami’s talent. But over the last few years, both teams have been equally weak.
Backup quarterbacks and porous defenses led to victories for the lesser of two evils—not necessarily the better team.
The Jets are the better team on paper today, in reality, in EA Sports’ Madden, and on a Friday the 13th in which they’ve walked under a ladder after broken 13 mirrors.
The Miami Dolphins aren’t the same awful team of 2007, though. Pennington will serve as a good stop-gap quarterback, as the Dolphins appear to have the potential for a six win season.
However, building chemistry, having new coaches, and learning a new system are all circumstances that combine for inevitable growing pains. It doesn’t matter who Pennington’s opponent is, any inconsistencies will not be remedied in the first week.
The final game of the season, when Miami comes to New York, should be a much more competitive contest as the Dolphins will have had enough time together to understand one another.
Opening weekend will be decided by raw talent, and unfortunately for the Fish, the Jets have it by the bunches.