Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are today’s biggest household names when it comes to football, and to be honest, there are plenty more names who are just as familiar.
Chad Pennington to most is NOT one of them.
Well, that could change sooner than you think. Pennington is not as bad as he may seem, and in fact he is more of a mystery than anything else.
Most people remember his 2002 banner year with the Jets where he threw for 3,120 yards and 22 TDs with a 68.9 % completion rate.
Still fresh in the Dolphins’ fans minds, is the equally productive campaign of last year as Pennington threw for 3,653 yards, and 19 TDs with a 67.4 % completion rate.
In total, Pennington has thrown for 17,391 yards, 101 TDs, with a career 66.0 % completion rate; a rate higher than both Manning and Brady from 2000 to the present.
What people don’t know, is that Pennington has done this much—so far— with only TWO full seasons under his belt—that’s right, just two.
He played all but three games between 2000 and 2001. He only started 37 out of 64 games from 2002 to 2005, while only playing eight games in 2007—imagine the possibilities.
2006 and 2008 were the only two seasons he played all 16 games, and if you include 2002, these were arguably his best seasons.
Now, I am not saying that Pennington will be the next Manning or Brady, but I am saying the ceiling for a better season this year is pretty high, and if he stays healthy and builds on last year’s success we could, see close to 4000 yards out of the ex-Jet with about 25 TDs; for Pennington that would be a personal best.
The road will not be easy however.
Pennington is not known for having a strong arm, so his bread and butter are the over-the-middle passes. He has great field vision, and has learned to get rid of the ball in a more timely fashion than in the past. He has also proven that he can, in fact, be a leader in the huddle, and in the locker room.
Additionally, Pennington will have to deal with one of the hardest schedules in the NFL; a task all in its own.
Miami will face— outside of the division— Indianapolis, San Diego, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and Tennessee just to name a few, and these teams will bring a challenge especially in coverage and getting to the quarterback.
Pennington will also have to rely on more conventional packages this year since it’s pretty much a given they will not have as much success with the hybrid “Wildcat” formation.
Of course, with all that said, Pennington will have to do something he has never done in his professional career: Stay healthy for 16 games, two years in a row.
But if you think about what the guy can do with the right talent, and the proper health, he suddenly becomes more than a mysteriously “average” quarterback—maybe not the next Marino—but definitely the guy Miami fans have been waiting for him to become.
So what does this mean in a Fantasy aspect when looking at Pennington AND the Dolphins as a whole?
Well, for starters, having the R&R express as your backfield will give you some good production; having just one of them could be a gamble if one or both don’t step up.
Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown combined for 1,575 yards and 14 TDs (Brown chalking up 10 to his name). But a lot of that came from the Wildcat in goal line situations or on third down; so again, a gamble.
The receivers are a difficult read as well, no pun intended.
Ted Ginn Jr. wasn’t a bust last year, but he didn’t exactly set the world on fire either. He has been labeled as having soft hands, but he does have toughness over the middle which bods well with Pennington’s style.
Greg Camarillo became the go to guy for Pennington before his (Camarillo) knee blowout, but Camarillo wasn’t known to well for his speed, and with the recovery in question he may lose more value than gain.
Davon Bess has the highest ceiling out of the bunch. He stole an amazing 30 catches in the final five games, and has explosive speed in the open which could garner more Fantasy points if he can build on his YAC rate.
Anthony Fasano and David Martin, (more so Fasano I think) could be sleeper TEs. The two combined for 65 catches, over 900 yards and 10 TDs (Fasano lead the way with 7).
All in all, the team faces a big set of challenges ahead; challenges that may either work in your favor, or leave you in ruination.