The League

Gene Wang
Fantasy Guru

Gene Wang

A sports staff writer at The Washington Post

Weak Arm, Strong Decisions


The knock on Chad Pennington since he was drafted has been his lack of arm strength. He has not been able to go down the field consistently, and thus defenses rarely had to worry about the deep ball.

That's still the case these days. This season Pennington has just eight completions of 40 yards or longer. For comparison, first-year starter Aaron Rodgers and veteran Kurt Warner lead the league in that category with 16 apiece. Even rookie quarterback Joe Flacco has 10 completions of at least 40 yards.

But Pennington is in an ideal system that emphasizes his best qualities. Those include accuracy, decision making and leadership.

The Miami Dolphins don't have a deep threat who keeps defensive coordinators up late into night. Their best downfield player is Ted Ginn, who has proven somewhat fragile and is still learning what it takes to thrive in the NFL.

There's no Randy Moss, Andre Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald, for example, in Miami, and therefore Pennington isn't going to take many chances throwing long. The Dolphins instead lean on running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams and tight end Anthony Fasano.

Pennington has thrived in Miami's conservative offense. He has thrown for 3,653 yards and has 19 touchdowns with seven interceptions. Most of all, Pennington has been effecient. He leads the league in completion percentage (67.4), and his 97.4 passer rating is second only to Philip Rivers.

Ball security is at a premium for a young team like the Dolphins, and Pennington has been among the best in the league in that department. He just doesn't make many mistakes, and for a team constructed by Bill Parcells, that's really the most important quality for a quarterback.

Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer weren't prolific passers, but they both won a Super Bowl because they were able to manage the game. That's what Pennington has to do if he is going to win a Lombardi Trophy.

By Gene Wang  |  January 1, 2009; 12:30 PM ET  | Category:  Quarterbacks Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: He's Mistake-Proof | Next: Chad's Still Playing, Isn't He?

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