Chad Pennington : biography
On October 6, 2005, Pennington once again underwent surgery to repair his right shoulder. Pennington and the Jets expected that with more rehabilitation time than his first surgery, he should be able to have better strength and control with his throws entering the 2006 season. In the midst of the eventually-resolved labor talks of February–March 2006, Pennington restructured his contract with the New York Jets, ensuring that he remained with the team for at least the 2006 season. Pennington was reported to have taken a significant cut in pay, with the amounts lost recoverable by way of achievable incentives; however, the Jets organization does not comment on contractual issues.
Chad Pennington on the sideline during a November 26, 2006 home game Entering the 2006 season, Pennington trained with new throwing coaches, and worked significantly on the strength of his torso and throwing mechanics. During training camp, new head coach Eric Mangini told players and the press that the quarterback position was still uncertain, and that all four Jets quarterbacks (Chad Pennington, Patrick Ramsey, Brooks Bollinger, and Kellen Clemens) had a chance to be the starter. Also, the Jets medical staff had continued to limit Pennington’s play, placing him on a limited number of throws to ensure the safety of his shoulder.
Pennington won the Jets pre-season quarterback competition, and started the 2006 season in apparent pre-injury form. For the first time in his career, Pennington posted back-to-back 300-yard passing games in the first two weeks of the season. Pennington’s Week One performance against Tennessee earned him AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. In Week 15 in Minnesota, Pennington passed for a career high 339 yards.
Pennington would go on to reach career highs for the season in completions, passing attempts, and passing yardage with 3,352 yards, starting all sixteen games for the first time.
Although his lack of arm strength was often criticized, Pennington’s abilities fit well into the new offense instituted by offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Using a short passing game and taking advantage of the "yards after catch" ability of wide receivers Laveranues Coles, Jerricho Cotchery, and running back Leon Washington, Pennington led the Jets to a 10–6 record and a playoff berth as a wild card team, after a 4-12 mark in 2005.
The Jets took on the Patriots in their lone playoff game. The Jets lost 37–16, with Pennington passing for 300 yards and a touchdown. With the start, Pennington also became the Jets’ all-time leader in postseason starts by a quarterback with five.
For his stellar season, Pennington was awarded the Comeback Player of the Year Award, just one year after tearing his rotator cuff. He received 27 of the 50 votes cast, finishing far ahead of the 8.5 votes received by second-place finisher Drew Brees.
The 2007 season was a tumultuous one for Pennington. In the first game of the season, against the Patriots, Pennington suffered a high ankle sprain that kept him out of game two. In the third game, against the Miami Dolphins, he led the Jets to a 31-28 victory, throwing two touchdowns and running for a third. After a 17–14 loss to the Bills in Week 4, he threw three interceptions against the Giants in Week 5, giving him five interceptions in two games. Two weeks later, he threw a costly interception late in the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals. After leading the Jets to a dismal 1–7 start, coach Eric Mangini decided to bench Pennington for second year quarterback Kellen Clemens. But, during the Week 15 game against the New England Patriots, Kellen Clemens left the game after the second play with a rib injury and Pennington returned to the game. Pennington went 25-38 for 184 yards. He also threw for more yards and fewer interceptions than opposing quarterback Tom Brady, who, not only was on his way to an MVP season, but that day was 14-27 for 140 yards with one interception. Neither quarterback threw a touchdown that day. Pennington would start the next week at Tennessee, where the Jets wound up losing 6–10. Clemens replaced Pennington for the final game of the season against the Chiefs. Pennington finished the ’07 season with 10 TD’s and 9 INTS with a passer rating of 86.1, and 1,765 yards.