And the glass slipper comes crashing down to the turf, shattering into pieces as the reality of Chad Pennington’s incredible season struck midnight against the Baltimore Ravens.
Pennington threw four interceptions against the Ravens, and confirmed everything Jets’ fans said about him prior to the season—he loses big games and can’t compete against top defenses.
But that’s an unfair criticism, right? Top defenses earn that title by making everyone look silly, don’t they?
Unfortunately for Chad, it gets to a point where those facts become a harsh reality. It’s to a point where fans have to acknowledge the repeating patterns in a man’s career.
The Miami Dolphins season is still a success—that’s a fact that cannot be denied. The change from 1-15 to 11-5 is a strong step in the right direction. But Dolphins’ fans need to accept that they’ve now witnessed Chad Pennington’s ceiling.
He can win some regular season games, build up his completion percentage, and be a leader on the field. But he is not a Super Bowl-caliber quarterback.
It was this truth—this fact—that forced the New York Jets to make the move they made for Brett Favre. In retrospect, the transaction is still a failure for New York as Miami rolled over them to win the AFC East and a playoff berth.
But the Wild Card Round is proof-positive of why the Jets felt they needed to pull the trigger when the opportunity presented itself.
The Dolphins 2008 season is eerily similar to the one the Jets had in 2006. A rookie head coach leads his team to the playoffs with some creativity as the defense plays fairly well.
And Pennington wins Comeback Player of the Year—only to be dropped in the playoffs by New England as Chadwick threw an interception into Asante Samuel’s waiting arms.
If history does repeat itself, there are a few more things Dolphins should expect from their new quarterback before the Chad Henne Era goes into full swing.
The season after Pennington won Comeback Player of the Year for the first time, he was benched halfway through the season in favor of second-year man Kellen Clemens.
Aside from that, Pennington is injury prone. He will either be sidelined, or he will hide the severity of an injury as he hinders the Dolphins efforts.
Trust me—these aren’t the words of a bitter Jets’ fans poking fun at Miami’s Wild Card misfortunes. This isn’t a furious entry in my sports writing diary, either.
It’s a warning.
Savor the memories of 2008 and the efficient, mistake-free quarterback you were able to enjoy for an entire season—maybe now you’ll understand why the Jets gave him so many chances after 2002.
But don’t make the same mistakes.