In this series, we’ll be highlighting a different player from the New York Jets’ storied past. Today, we take a look at quarterback Chad Pennington.
When the Jets spent the 18th overall pick in the 2000 NFL draft on this Marshall University product, many Jets fans understandably wondered if Pennington had what it took to go from Huntington, West Virginia to The Big Apple. Would he be able to find the same success in the NFL’s biggest market?
The Mid-American Conference’s Player of the Year in 1999, Pennington wouldn’t make his first NFL start until two years later, but he quickly established himself as a fan favorite. After taking over as the starting quarterback in 2002, Pennington led the Jets to an 8-4 record, leading the NFL with a 104.2 QB rating and a completing percentage of 68.9. He tossed 22 touchdown passes to just six interceptions that year, leading the Jets to a 41-0 blowout win over the Indianapolis Colts in the first round of the playoffs, marking only the second postseason win in 16 years for the Jets.
While he wouldn’t replicate his statistical success from the 2002 season, Pennington would lead the Jets to two 10-win seasons over his eight seasons spent with the team. Despite making just 61 career starts for the Jets, he still sits at No. 4 in franchise history in passing yards (13,738) and touchdown passes (82). His career completion percentage of 65.6 while playing for the Jets is the best mark in team history for any quarterback with more than 12 starts.
Injuries robbed Pennington of far too many games in his prime, but his perseverance and determination helped make him the NFL’s only two-time Comeback Player of the Year award winner.
While Pennington finished his NFL career by playing three seasons with the division-rival Miami Dolphins, he still holds a special place in the hearts of Jets fans everywhere.