Chad Pennington has been solid for young Dolphins

Chad PenningtonThe knock on Chad Pennington his entire career is that he has a noodle-arm and can’t complete passes over 15 yards. But in the Dolphins impressive 25-16 win over the Bills on Sunday, Pennington proved that there is something attached to his right shoulder.

Pennington completed 22 of 30 passes for 314 yards and a touchdown against an underrated Buffalo defense and his 46-yard pass to Ted Ginn on the first play of the game set up a Anthony Fasano touchdown to put Miami up 7-0.

I was definitely skeptical of the Pennington signing in the offseason because I felt the Dolphins weren’t giving their young signal callers a chance to compete. But Pennington has been great for a young Miami squad and at 3-4 they’re certainly in the playoff hunt in the AFC, albeit a long shot.

The Bills really blew an opportunity to stay ahead of the Patriots in the AFC East. Trailing 17-16 at the start of the fourth quarter, Trent Edwards was intercepted, which Miami eventually turned into a field goal. On their next possession, Edwards fumbled and although Miami didn’t turn the turnover into points, they pinned the Bills at their own three-yard line and then sacked Edwards for a safety. Then down 25-16 with less than four minutes to play, Robert Royal fumbled, which allowed the Dolphins to run out the clock.

This was a disappointing step back for a Bills team that was building momentum after beating the Chargers last week.

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Week 1 Fantasy Surprises: Now what?

Whether it’s a few breakout wide receivers, a suddenly mature quarterback or an out-of-nowhere running back, Week 1 of the NFL season always has its share of surprises. Here are a few of the bigger revelations from the first weekend of action along with what they might mean in the larger scheme of things.

Michael Turner ran roughshod over the Lions.
Most people were probably expecting a pretty good game out of Turner against Detroit, but I don’t think too many fantasy owners had “The Burner” racking up 220 yards (10.0 ypc) and two touchdowns in his Atlanta debut. The Falcons’ offensive line opened up monster holes for their RB, and unfortunately it’s not always going to be this easy. Turner will be tested against the Bucs this week before another nice matchup at home against the Chiefs. Going forward, Turner looks like a solid RB2, though he might have the occasional bad game when a team jumps all over the Falcons in the first quarter.

Jay Cutler shredded a good Raider secondary.
I was very high on Cutler heading into the season figuring that a guy who could throw 20 TD while losing 30 pounds (and a lot of strength) due to undiagnosed diabetes would be a good candidate for a breakout season now that his illness is under control. He did play the Raiders in Week 1 (never a good gauge) and shredded what was supposed to be a pretty good secondary for 300 yards and two scores. And that was without his top WR, Brandon Marshall. He looked comfortable and in complete control of the Denver offense, which looks like it could be one of the best in the league. I think Cutler has a great chance to finish in the top 5 this season, which isn’t bad for a guy that was available in the 7th round.

Read the rest after the jump...

The Monday After: NFL columnist and beat writers react

– John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes that Tom Brady’s injury has dealt a serious blow to the Patriots’ Super Bowl chances.

Braylon Edwards– Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer rips receiver Braylon Edwards for his dropped passes during the Browns’ opening season loss to the Cowboys. Pluto also takes aim at Cleveland’s poor defensive effort.

– Gene Frenette of the Florida Times-Union reacts to the Jaguars’ 17-10 loss to the Titans and writes that good teams must win when they’re at their worst.

– Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star writes that the Colts clearly weren’t ready for prime time as the Chicago Bears gashed them Sunday night.

– Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune notes that the Chargers lost their game with the Panthers well before Carolina scored a game-winning touchdown as time expired.

– Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post writes that Eric Mangini nearly allowed former Jets’ quarterback Chad Pennington to get revenge on his former team.

– Mich Albom of the Detroit Free Press notes that only the Lions can start off a game looking finished after the Falcons mounted a 21-0 lead en route to a 34-21 victory over the Lie-Downs Sunday.

Has the quarterback situation improved in Miami?

In the weeks leading up to the kickoff the 2008 NFL Season, I’ll take a look at position groups that could potentially lift teams to new heights, or bury them and their postseason hopes. Today I take a look at the Miami Dolphins’ quarterback situation after the team added Chad Pennington.

Chad PenningtonTo say the Miami Dolphins had quarterback issues in 2007 would be putting it lightly. Whether it was Trent Green, Cleo Lemon or rookie John Beck, the results were the same and losses piled up in the standings.

Heading into 2008, the depth chart has changed but will the results? Gone are Green and Lemon; in are former New York Jets’ starting quarterback Chad Pennington and rookie Chad Henne.

When Bill Parcells took over the football operations for the Dolphins this summer, one of the areas he knew he had to upgrade was quarterback. And after watching Henne and Beck struggle in camp over the summer, Parcells reached out to the recently released Pennington – the quarterback he drafted when he was the Jets’ head coach.

The book is already out on Pennington: weak arm, severely limited, can’t throw downfield, etc. But he’s also a fundamentally sound veteran and a solid leader that can hopefully help tutor Beck and Henne for the future. Pennington is also familiar with the division and new offensive coordinator Dan Henning used to be his QB coach in New York so he knows the offense.

Eventually the Dolphins have to see what they have in Beck and Henne. It’s wise to allow young quarterbacks develop slowly, but sooner or later they have to sink or swim on the field. And while Parcells has a tendency to prefer players that he had a hand in drafting, Miami did spend a second round pick on Beck last year, so it would be unfair to give up on him too soon.

Chad HenneBut at the very least, Pennington buys Miami more time to see what they have at the position. It’s also fair to say that Pennington gives the Dolphins the best chance to win this season and Parcells did him a solid by drafting massive left tackle Jake Long with the first overall pick in last April’s draft. Long will be counted on to protect Pennington’s blind side and hopefully give the Dolphins a cornerstone tackle for years to come.

While it’s unlikely he’ll lead the Dolphins to the playoffs this year, Pennington at least gives the team a respected veteran presence in the huddle and on the field. Time will tell if Henne or Beck can develop behind him.

Dolphins signing of Chad Pennington makes little sense

The Miami Dolphins signed former New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington to a two-year, $11.5 million contract. Pennington was cut by the Jets after they acquired Brett Favre via a trade with the Green Bay Packers.

“I have enjoyed it,” Pennington said Friday in his first public comments since his release. “I’ve learned a lot, become a better professional and a better man because of my experience and my time in New York. I don’t regret or feel ashamed about anything that happened to me in my time in New York.”

One of the hardest-working and most cerebral quarterbacks in the league, Pennington is the perfect fit to tutor the youngsters on the Dolphins’ roster who could eventually become a successor.

That’s a pretty expensive tutor. Far be it for me to question anything Bill Parcells does, but this signing makes little sense. Word out of Miami is that John Beck and Chad Henne haven’t looked good this summer, but it’s only mid-August. Wouldn’t the Dolphins (a team that probably won’t compete for two years at the earliest) be better served if they got their young quarterbacks some playing time and used the $11.5 mil to upgrade their defense or skill positions?

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