Pennington is a professional NFL quarterback, which is different from
saying he’s an NFL quarterback. Professionals know how to prepare for, play,
and manage the game properly. They approach their work with maturity, poise,
and intelligence, and respect the limits of their physical abilities. They make
minimal mistakes. They know how to lead. They know how to win.
good ones are the most valuable of players. In Pennington, the Dolphins finally
have a good one again. He’s the single biggest reason why they have returned to
relevance and are now in the thick of a real playoff race.
don’t mean to suggest he’s doing this alone. It is, after all, an improved
offensive line, two premier runners, a couple of dependable tight ends, and the
specter of The Wildcat that compel opposing defenses to play run first.
it’s Pennington’s accuracy that is driving defenders nuts to the tune of almost
250 yards a game. That’s not chopped liver, Dolfans. Aside from ball movement
and scoring, Pennington is helping the defense with good field position
and overall good game management.
maintain that the Dolphins would stand no better than 2-6 right now without
him. He’s been a difference-maker. He’s the midseason MVP.
evidence starts with Pennington’s passer rating of 95.2 - the best since Dan
Marino’s 108.9 in 1984. He’s on track for a 4,000 yard season – his best ever,
and the best by a Dolphin since Mr. Marino in 1994. His completion percentage –
67.4 – flirts with his personal best of 68.9 (2002) and would easily
beat the team season record currently held by Marino (1984, 64.2). He’s tossed
only four picks, not all his fault, which is third lowest this season.
folks, is some pretty good playing.
course there are the skeptics who point out that the numbers are misleading
because he isn’t firing deep rockets at his receivers, or that the plays are
churning huge amounts of YAC (yards after catch). They continue to bemoan his
lack of arm strength and some still call for rookie Chad Henne to play instead.
Who, it all sounds feeble today, in the swell of an important 26-17 win over
the Denver Broncos at Invesco Field. It’s huge because the Dolphins were on the
road, the opponent was coming off of a bye (rest and preparation advantage) and
was desperate to end a two game losing streak.
figured to be an offensive war ended up as a defensive to and fro. The
difference, folks, was Pennington.
Broncos QB Jay Cutler was losing his cool and giving out early Christmas
presents, Pennington was playing it cool and giving Bronco defenders fits.
Yeah, he tossed one pick but that seems to have been due to a route error by WR
Ted Ginn, Jr. Even then, he stayed patient and, when the game was on the line
with 11 minutes and change to play, he led that clutch 80 yard, 8 minute
monster drive that ended with Ronnie Brown’s 3 yard blast off right tackle for
the deciding points. Game over.
this business, that’s what we call “making a statement”. To be sure, Pennington’s
Dolphins (and this is unquestionably HIS team now) have made a few statements
this season, though none bigger than that clincher against the Broncos.
Pennington’s fine play, we aren’t opening a legitimate discussion about the
playoffs, a topic dormant for far too long. Yet the very topic is the biggest
surprise of all, because the most optimistic of optimists (including yours
truly) saw a way to a .500 record as the best possible outcome.
expected, the Dolphins are on the upswing of their learning curve now. They’re
healthy, too, with the remaining schedule looking very inviting (24-40 combined
record). Five of the eight remaining teams have two or fewer wins. The other
three, the divisional rivals, will be the tough outs. Still, the Dolphins will
get the Pats in Miami and the Bills in the
toasty confines of the Rogers Centre in Toronto.
And only the Jets have a win against the Dolphins (2-1 in the division), though
they will be wary of facing Pennington in a re-match that could decide their entire
is a team, like its leader, that makes very few mistakes. They simply do not
beat themselves. As Don Shula would attest, that and a good quarterback will
take any team a long way.