Chad Pennington, during his time with the Jets, did not take them where he ultimately wanted to. However, after taking over in 2002 and leading the team to the playoffs, he was as tough and resilient as they come. He fought through multiple arm injuries, as well as fan scrutiny and led the team to playoff appearances and wins, before he was released in the off-season leading up to the 2008 season.
He talked with Jets reporter Eric Allen about his career last week in Tennessee. He felt the time in New York went by as a blur:
“It just went by too fast. You’re in such a grind and so focused on the next game, the next practice that you don’t really get a chance to take it all in and enjoy it,” Chad told Eric Allen. “It went by so fast and I have no idea where those eight years went because they just flew by.”
In an odd way his career lined up, Pennington had very successful even-numbered years, and troubles in the odd years:
“The even years of my career were always kind to us with playoff berths and playoff victories. But that year was special because our whole team and our fans were really involved in the season. The one moment I remember from 2002 was the Green Bay game and the fans sitting on the edge of their seats for the one o’clock game with Miami and New England. And once New England beats Miami in overtime, the whole crowd erupts and from then on, the Packers had no chance. We ended up routing them, 42-17, and it was just a really great feeling.”
The team went on to rout the Colts in the Wild Card game 41-0 before losing in the divisional playoff round.
Chad Pennington, although not the strongest arm ever, was one of the best decision makers ever. With his legendary figures in completion percentage, he was the man to ask about what is going on with Geno Smith. And, like always, he gave a very level-headed perspective.
“You’re going to be able to watch a rookie quarterback mature in front of your eyes. It’s obviously a process. You can’t be impatient. Is the physical talent there? Absolutely. The key to any quarterback’s success in this league is putting the mental and physical together and then once you do that, can you produce the consistency of the great quarterbacks like the Breeses, the Mannings, the Bradys-those types of guys. It’s about consistency, so it’s going to be fun to watch him mature.”
He believes that David Lee is the best quarterback coach in the league, and will be quite the asset to Geno Smith. Despite not being involved in pro football, Chad remains a Jets’ fan and believes the future is bright.
I, for one, hope he is right.