Opponent Opinions

Jets quarterback Chad Pennington has surprised many observers by getting off to a strong this season (last Sunday's 41-0 loss at Jacksonville notwithstanding). He talked to South Florida media this week about his comeback, as well as the Dolphins-Jets rivalry.

Q. Can you sort of empathize with some of the things Daunte Culpepper is going through?

Pennington: "Yeah, absolutely. As athletes we want to be out there competing and contributing to our team on the field and it's so hard to pull yourself back because that's not in our nature. Especially as football players, we feel as long as we can stand up on two feet, we can play and be able to be out there for our team. So I definitely know what he's going through because I was going through the same thing last year."

Q. Was there ever a point where you wanted to play, thought you could play and someone said, "No Chad, you're not playing"?

Pennington: "Well, I always thought I could play and with my situation it was cut short because I got re-injured before anyone made that decision on whether or not I should play. It's tough to come back from a major injury -- whether it's a shoulder or a knee or whatever -- you know, he's worked very hard, I'm sure, to try to get back and be there for his team and it's just a tough situation when things don't work out."

Q. What do you think about (rookie second-round pick) Kellen Clemens and his development as a player?

Pennington: "Kellen's done an excellent job of coming in and preparing, studying and being a sponge -- learning as much as he can and doing everything he can to become a better quarterback. He's here with us as long as I am and he does everything he can to try to soak it all up."

Q. Five games in, how are (rookie offensive linemen) Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson holding up?

Pennington: "Those guys have done an excellent job and coming in and learning as much as they can. The veterans on the offensive line have done a great job teaching them little things about offensive line pay in the NFL. Slowly, they've gotten better every week and every week you see improvement in those guys and they just keep making progress and they maintain the same work ethic every week."

Q. How much tougher has it been on you that you're having problems running the ball?

Pennington: "We've seen some sparks in our running game and I think you see teams a lot of times early on -- their running game starts off slow and by the end of the year because of communication and giving better up front, the running game comes along. I think we're making progress. I think the guys are doing a great job of communicating and learning how to play with each other. We've got new people on the line -- we've got young guys mixed with veterans. The running game is such a team effort. It starts with the quarterback, the running backs understanding courses and ball handling and then the offensive line communicating and then blocking on the perimeter with the receivers. It's a team effort and we're all involved it."

Q. With the Jets coming off a 41-0 loss and the Dolphins at 1-4, would you consider this a desperation game?

Pennington: "I don't think it's desperation. We're coming off a week where we got outplayed. I played poorly as a quarterback and part of being a professional is learning how to bounce back and dealing with adversity during those tough times. So we just have to go out there today and have a good practice and focus on each practice and make sure we're getting better and learning from the mistakes. That's what you have to focus on."

Q. Is your arm strength totally back to the point it was before you hurt your shoulder?

Pennington: "I really don't have a measuring stick on that. I knew that I feel really good and I feel totally different than I did last year, it's not even a comparison compared to 2005. I'm just happy and I feel blessed just to be able to go out each week and compete and not have to worry about an injury. Last year I had concerns there. I didn't know how things would respond and the consistency wasn't there. It's been nice to step out on the field every Sunday this year and play and enjoy playing the game and not to have to worry about a physical ailment."

Q. How did the martial arts you did this summer help you with your throwing?

Pennington: "I think throwing the football is not only about your shoulder and your arm. It's about learning how to incorporate your total body into your throws to create more velocity -- with your hips and your abs. So with karate when you throw a punch or something like that or you're in a fighting stance its similar to being in a quarterback stance and learning how to use your hips and incorporate your hips. If anything, the shoulder injury showed me how I wasn't using my hips and it showed me the flaws I had in my mechanics, so I had to really study that and then try to look at some different techniques to teach my body how to use my hips better."

Q. Can you talk about your working relationship with WR Laveranues Coles?

Pennington: "A lot of people know that Laveranues and I have a good connection and a good relationship. He's one of those guys that you just feel really comfortable as a quarterback throwing the ball to. Anytime he is involved in a route -- if you throw it to him you know he 's going to give you a chance to make a play and you don't feel like you have to be perfect with the football or anything like that. He plays big, he plays physical and he has big-play capabilities. He's a fun player to be with and he's a good guy."

Q. Coles has had some big days against the Dolphins through the years; do you notice a jump in his step during Dolphins week?

Pennington: "Well, I think anytime the Jets and the Dolphins get together it's a good match up. I know the fans enjoy it because you have a lot of Dolphins fans in New York and a lot of Jet fans in Miami. So it's always an exciting time when the Jets and the Dolphins get together and it's always a good, hard nosed physical game no matter what the records are or what the teams are experiencing -- you can always expect a good game."

Q. Do you ever look in the stands and look for a couple of good fights between the fans?

Pennington: "No, because there really haven't been any blowouts. I don't get the chance to really take it all in. I have to be focused for all 60 minutes because it normally comes down to the last series."


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