Pennington and the Jets

New York quarterback Chad Pennington talks Jets and 49ers.

Q: What are the secrets to the Jets' success so far this year?

Pennington: Well, I think we're just playing better as a team. I think our team is complimenting each other offensively and defensively. We're finding ways to feed off of each other's excitement. When one side of the football isn't playing as well as the other side, we're picking up the slack. That is what a team is all about is working together and trying to compliment each other in those areas.

Q: How comfortable were you in leading the last drive that got you guys the win last week?

Pennington: I felt like we had moved the ball throughout the game. It was just a matter of putting a good, smooth drive together and going down and kicking a field goal. We had to keep our poise and not get rattled and understand that there is a lot of time on the clock. We just needed to run our offense. It wasn't time to panic. The best thing about the drive was that no one panicked. Everyone stayed focused and we just did what we were supposed to do.

Q: With your offensive line possibly changing this week, do you have to change your game?

Pennington: I don't think so. With Brent Smith being in there, he has starter experience. He's been in the trenches before and Jonathan came in and has done a good job. He did a good job last week when he had to come in for a few plays. He's done a good job when he's had to sub for a guard that needs some help or needs a couple of plays to get back from and injury. So, we feel comfortable in our guys. We know that San Francisco can really cause havoc with their front seven and cause disruption. So, it is important for us to make sure we take care of the football and don't put it on the ground or anything like that.

Q: You've done a good job of protecting the football in the red zone. Is that due to how accurate you've been?

Pennington: I think our success in the red zone has been because of the attention to detail. Our coaches pay attention to the detail in the red zone and my teammates really heighten their focus when they are in the red zone. The biggest thing in the red zone is that you are in tighter spaces and the defense doesn't have to move around as much. There is not as much space to work in. So, how you run routes, where you throw the football, ball placement and decision-making becomes much more important because you don't want to leave points out there on the field that you know you should get once you get inside the 20.

Q: Have you always been an accurate passer?

Pennington: Well, I think there are two different types of accuracy. When you are talking about just throwing the ball one-on-one and being able to make the good throws and put it in tight spots. Then, completion percentage a lot of times has to deal with decision-making and knowing when to make the tight throw or when just to take your secondary check downs or another option. That is what I've tried to learn how to do. To try and take what the defense gives me and really don't give them an easy one. I mean, these guys are good and know how to cover people. So, you don't want to give them easy ones.

Q: How well has play-action worked for you and how good is Curtis Martin good at it?

Pennington: Well, the play-action pass is obviously based on the running game and when you have somebody like Curtis Martin who can make a lot of things happen when he gets his hands on the ball, the play-action pass becomes very important. The defenses have to honor number 28 in the backfield when the ball is stuck out there for him to take a hold of. So, it's been a good part of the West Coast offense throughout the years and I think it has been a good part of our system as well.

Q: On a fundamental level, how much fun has it been this year after the injury you had last year?

Pennington: Well, when you get a chance to start off the season and really capitalize on the hard work you put in during the offseason and training camp, it makes it a lot of fun. It's so hard to come back from an injury when you've missed eight or nine weeks. You really have to just start over and build your base again. This year luckily, we've been fortunate enough to stay away from injuries. It's been a lot of fun. I tell you, when you win, it makes Mondays and Tuesdays a lot easier to deal with.

Q: Do you know Tim Rattay?

Pennington: I know Tim a little bit. Obviously, we came out the same year. We played in the Senior Bowl. So, I've talked to him sparingly, not a lot. I just remember in college in watching him that he is a very accurate quarterback and he's a smart guy. He knows when to try and make the big throw, but he also understands the importance of decision-making and when to dump it off and keep the drives going and those types of things. I've always felt that we were pretty similar as far as making good decisions and trying to run the football team.

Q: Are you similar in quarterback qualities?

Pennington: I don't know Tim that well, but I know he is a tough guy. I know he can sit back there and take the hit. I know he really is not one to shy away from contact. He's going to stay in there in the pocket and make throws like he's supposed to and those types of things. So, I think when it comes to standing in the pocket and working within the pocket, I think we are similar in that regard, too.

Q: How hard was it for you last year to come back after missing first five or six weeks of season and then having to jell?

Pennington: It is very difficult. I don't think you ever really understand until you have gone through and injury and then you are able to reflect at the end of the season how difficult it is to come back from an injury. Mentally, you feel like you are there. Like you can just pick up right where you left off, but putting the physical and mental together is so hard. When you get injured and when you come back, it's almost like you have to start over and build your base again. You can't just pick up where you left off. It doesn't happen that way because your rhythm, timing and everything just seems a little bit off. Although mentally, you want to make this throw or read or whatever, you just seem like you are just a little off. You continually try to fight it and struggle with it. The biggest thing is that you just have to be patient. You can't try to do too much and just use each game as a building block to get better.

Q: Is New York excited about how the team is doing?

Pennington: Well, I think the most important thing is that people don't realize how hard it is to win in this football league. You are playing against the best football players in the world. Games are decided by one, two or three points, or one or two plays a game. The difference between a 1-4 team and a 4-0 team is not very much. It's only a couple of points. So, you can't look at it like you would in college or high school. It just doesn't happen that way. People get so caught up in the stats and they forget about that. But, you know what, we play the people who are on our schedule and that is all we can control.

Q: With Julian Peterson out, who becomes focal point as far as 49ers defense?

Pennington: Well, obviously Bryant Young has always been a big-time playmaker and wreaking havoc in the front four. I think their linebackers play fast and play hard. When you are looking at a defense that is sixth in the NFL in lost yardage plays, that is a pretty good statistic. We understand that they can be very disruptive. They can cause havoc back there in the backfield. It seems like they are always playing on the offensive side of the ball which creates disruption. Then you look at the secondary and they've only given up two pass plays of 20 yards or more. That is pretty amazing in 147 attempts. So, we know it is a game where they are going to make sure that you don't beat them with deep passes and see how patient you can be. So, it's going to be a game where you try and remain patient and take what they give us.

Q: How familiar are you with the 49ers personnel?

Pennington: It's always different when you are playing teams outside of your division and especially outside of your conference. It's very different. All I know is that the last time San Francisco came in here, they beat us on Monday night. So, they always play hard. Anytime you play a team that has a tradition and a history of winning, no matter what their record is, you got to be ready to play because they are used to winning and they know what winning is all about.

Q: How vital has the Jets' offensive line been to success of team?

Pennington: Well, the success of your offense always starts with how well your offensive line jells and comes together. Our guys have done a great job of communicating along the line together and being on the same page. As a whole, they have played extremely well. They drive our offense and they set the tone. When they get out on the field, they set the tempo and the tone of the game and how physical and fast it is going to be.


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