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Pennington Keeping His Emotions in Check


Chad Pennington was working his conference call from Miami with the beat reporters he used to talk with regularly, and the new Miami starting quarterback was being very Chad-like. Which is to say he was saying all the right things and none of the wrong things four days before he and the Dolphins get to open the season against the Jets.

Finally, one beat writer had to know: Do you have a switch you can flip or something, Chad, because it really sounds as if you're not in revenge or statement mode going up against the team that released you one day after trading for Brett Favre.

"I would be remiss if I said I'm emotionless. I'm a human being," Pennington said. "All of us have emotions. But my whole goal is to stay focused entirely on what I need to do to learn my responsibilities and help us win. It would be a disservice to my teammates and to myself if I put too much into the emotional part of this and not being able to go out there and perform well and not giving us a chance to win."

So perhaps somewhere in Pennington's cerebral cortex is a neural connection that says beating the Jets on Sunday would feel very, very good.

But you have to trust No. 10, now in aqua and coral, when he says he's focused on other things. There are a few things on his mind besides jumping the Jets ugly in his new hometown of Miami.

"It's certainly been a whirlwind the last four to five weeks. There has been a lot of stuff going on as far as trying to get to know your new teammates, understanding how we do things here in Miami, and also being able to familiarize yourself with the offense and the things you're required to do to help your offense be successful," he said.

"It's a learning process for me every day. Each day I'm trying to pick up something new and each day I'm trying to learn from my teammates and learn how my receivers run routes on the field and get a feel for my offensive line and my running backs and tight ends. It's a learning process and it will continue on throughout the year."

Pennington downplayed the theory that he has an advantage on the Green & White because he used to be one of them, for the first eight seasons of his NFL career and the last two seasons and three training camps under head coach Eric Mangini and coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.

And really, who can say where the advantage lies. As Shaun Ellis said poetically, "Chad knows us well, but we know him well as well."

Here's one reason for the Green & White to worry about Chad, regardless of what happened last season. Consider that Pennington will be starting in his fifth consecutive Jets season opener. The first four were with the Jets, of course. And even though he split those four starts (wins over Cincinnati and Tennessee, losses to Kansas City and New England), his passing has been sharp: 81-for-115 (70.4 percent), 974 yards, six TDs, one INT, 109.8 passer rating.

"I just know Chad's smart," said CB Darrelle Revis about how the Jets will attack him. "I'm not going to get into game plan stuff. You just have to wait until Sunday."

One thing the Jets defenders will have to learn quickly in this week's practices is not to hesitate if they've got Pennington in their sights. Every time the veterans have gone up against him during training camps and in-season practices, right on through his last Jets practice Aug. 4, Chad was always wearing his red "hands-off" QB jersey.

"I don't know what to say to him," Ellis said with a smile about sacking Pennington or knocking him to Dolphin Stadium's Prescription Athletic Turf. "Do I talk smack to him? Help him off the ground. It's going to be real awkward."

"It'll be different," LB David Bowens said. "Right now I'm not going to downplay the challenge or talk bad about Chad, but he's just another opponent. That's what we have to focus on. He's a good friend of mine, we'll always be buddies off the field. But right now it's all about trying to get a win."

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