Jul 25, 2008; Hempstead, NY, USA: Chad Pennington
Chad Pennington made his retirement official on Thursday, deciding it was best for his family if he didn’t attempt one last comeback. Today, we are going to take a look at the career of a guy who was much maligned during his time with the Jets. He also, was vastly underrated, was a talented QB, and had the heart of a champion. He never attained his ultimate goal in NY, which was a Super Bowl championship. He was, however, a true Jet in every sense of the word, and deserved a better fate. Let’s look back.
Chad was drafted in the first round of the 2000 draft by the Jets, with the 18th pick overall. He began his career watching and learning from incumbent starter, Vinny Testaverde.
That all changed in 2002, when coach Herman Edwards brought Pennington into the Jets week 4 game in Jacksonville to replace a slumping Testaverde. The Jets were blown out that day, but Pennington played well, going 21-34 passing for 281 yards. Edwards installed Chad as the starter the following week against the Chiefs, and although the Jets lost a close game, Pennington cemented his role as the new QB. He went 22-29 for 237 yards and 2 TDs vs 1 INT. This accuracy became the hallmark of Pennington’s 2002 season, and his career.
Following the Jets bye week, the Jets went on a tear, winning 8 out of 11 games, led by Pennington, who threw for 20 TDs and only 3 INTs over that stretch. Chad finished the season with an NFL leading 104.2 passer rating, and the Jets finished with a 9-7 record that was good enough to win the AFC East.
The following week, the Jets hosted the Colts in a wild card game in which they punished the Colts 41-0. In that game, Pennington went 19-25 for 222 yards and 3 TDs, vs 0 INTs, a whopping 142.0 passer rating. The season ended with a loss in Oakland against the Raiders.
2003 marked Pennington’s first of many career harming injuries, when he injured his wrist in the preseason on a hit by Brandon Short. (I was on my honeymoon and inadvertently woke my wife up I was so upset) He ended up missing the first 6 games, and by the time Chad came back, the season was not to be saved and the Jets went 6-10.
2004 is where Chad Pennington’s heart and toughness begin to come full circle. The Jets were 6-1 when they went to Buffalo, and Chad suffered his first arm injury. We later learned it was his first torn rotator cuff, but at the time, Pennington missed 3 games. He came back, and with what we learned was a torn rotator cuff, led the Jets to a 10-6 record and a wild card playoff berth.
Then, in the wild card game against the Chargers, Chad went 23-33 for 279 yards and 2 TDs in the Jets wild card win. All with a torn rotator cuff. Keep that in mind. He was 21-33 in the following week’s game against the Steelers, and the Jets would have gone to the AFC championship game, if Doug Brien could make one of two field goals that would have won the game.
Pennington entered the 2005 season after undergoing his first surgery on the shoulder during the offseason. In week 3, he reinjured the rotator cuff and came out of the game, but, reeentered the game when backup Jay Fiedler was injured as well. He came back into the game, with what was another torn rotator cuff. Not only that, he nearly won the game by throwing a duck of a pass to Wayne Chrebet in the endzone late. Did this guy complain? No. He came back into the game with an injury and nearly won it. Chad Pennington is a warrior, and a Jet. He didn’t complain, he worked hard, and won the QB competition in 2006.
Not that beating out Kellen Clemens was difficult, no offense to him.
Not only did Chad come back, he led the Jets to a 10-6 record, wild card playoff berth, and won his first Comeback Player of the Year award.
This is the guy people criticized? Seriously?
He had a lackluster 2007, which led to a mid-year benching. What did he do? Complain? No. He assembled a team to help him get ready to have a big 2008. The Jets decided then to bring in Brett Favre. How did the Jets honor Chad’s time here? They didn’t even respect his ability enough to trade him to someone outside the division. They just rewarded his play by releasing him, and he went on to sign with the Dolphins.
Did he complain about the Jets even then? Have a bad word to say? No.
Instead, he led the Dolphins to an 11-5 eastern division championship, his second Comeback Player of the Year award, and finished second in the league’s MVP voting.
He eventually was relegated to backup duties in 2009, and a third injury to his arm in 2010 forced Pennington to take 2011 off, and call it a career yesterday.
For his career, Chad Pennington threw for 102 TDs vs 64 INTs, a career passer rating of 90.1. He never won the Super Bowl that he always wished for, as well as deserved, but does hold the NFL record for completion percentage.
A successful Jet despite his critics, and an uncontested heart. More importantly, in a league with a lot of questionable people in it, as classy a guy as they come. He deserves a place in the Jets Ring of Honor, and certainly deserves a special place in Jets fans hearts. His career was cut far too short due to injury, but I will always remember with fondness his time with the Jets.
Despite playing for Miami at the end, you will always be a Jet Chad Pennington. Enjoy your retirement.