Despite their complaining, and the complaining of their fans, the Jets already have a highly-skilled, successful, playoff-experienced quarterback with record numbers; they just seem to have forgotten about him.
I can’t bear to hear another gripe about Chad Pennington, or another argument in favor of letting another QB start for the Jets this season, let alone the pleas by some to go out and grab a semi-retired, 38-year-old guy to replace him … and, no: that’s not a slam against Brett Favre, of whom I think the world. I just don’t understand why anyone would think Favre, who is not known for his speed or scrambling ability, would fare any better in an offense now known for its collapsing front line. The recent failure of the Jets’ offense is due to the combination of this line and the lack of a running game, not due to the quarterback position.
If you want to talk about success as a team: look at the Jets’ record with Pennington at quarterback, and look at it before he was the starter, as well as during the disastrous experiment that was last year’s 2007 season, for which I did a painstakingly thorough analysis in an earlier post. And if you don’t want to take my word for it, have a glance at the QBs’ main stats side-by-side on ESPN’s site.
The bottom line is that the Jets have had success with Pennington at quarterback. He is among the league’s smartest players on the field, knows how to make plays, and has proven this with gritty play, grinding out playoff wins, fighting through injuries and multiple shoulder surgeries, and amassing one of the best completion percentages in the history of the NFL.
If the Jets can scrounge up an offensive line that can protect the quarterback (for longer than 1.5 seconds per play), shore up their running game, and come up with a legitimate #1, go-to wide receiver to complement Laveranues Coles, Jericcho Cotchery, and the rest of the receiving crew, their starting quarterback will no longer be a legitimate issue for debate.
If the Jets want to keep playing dismal football, or to launch into another Ken O’Brien-ish era of mediocrity, they should keep the QB turmoil just as it is. Otherwise, they should either start Pennington and focus on improving the team in other, much needed areas, or trade him and move on. He may even end up with a team that appreciates and benefits from his skill and leadership.
It’s worth mentioning that Pennington has the highest passing completion percentage of all time: not just in a single year, or among active players. Penington’s 65.6% success rate is the best of any quarterback, ever. And who are numbers 2, 3, and 4? You may have heard of them: Kurt Warner, Steve Young, and Peyton Manning. And they all have something in common that the Jets haven’t seen since 1969: Super Bowl victories. Coincidence? Why not give Pennington a real chance, on a real team, with legitimate front lines and a legitimate deep threat (like the other three have had) and find out?
Update: Today’s (July 25’s) New York Post included an article regarding this “battle” between Pennington and Kellen Clemens for this season’s starting quarterback position (again). The article featured a bit of information that fans may find interesting:
“Pennington said publicly for the first time that he played with two torn ligaments in his right ankle, suffered when he was injured in the opening game last season against the Patriots, and he said it hampered him the rest of the season.“