PENNINGTON ON A ROLL

There is something different about the Jets from the way they looked during their September visit to Pro Player Stadium, and the biggest difference is their new quarterback.

Chad Pennington, a former first-round pick from Marshall, has been lighting it up since taking over for veteran Vinny Testaverde early in the season.

Pennington is completing a whopping 70.8 percent of his passes, setting a new NFL record for a quarterback in his first four starts.

Certainly, Pennington has been throwing a lot of short passes, but that doesn't diminish from his work. The Dolphins, among others, have noticed.

"He is a lot more versatile," said cornerback Sam Madison. "They are opening up in set forms. He has great vision, and he is very patient in the pocket. If it is not there, he is able to scramble and get out of situations. One thing I really notice about him is instead of scrambling to run, he is scrambling and receivers are finding open spots and he is throwing the football. If no receivers are there, then he is going downfield and picking up some yards and getting out of bounds."

Coach Dave Wannstedt also has been impressed by Pennington.

Said Wannstedt: "He's real efficient. He's tough to get to. I think he's doing a great job. His numbers speak for themselves. He's been the most efficient quarterback in the NFL. Completing 70 percent of your passes is hard to do in practice, let alone in a game with a full-speed rush. You've got to give him credit."

The switch to Pennington has worked out great for the Jets and coach Herman Edwards, and part of the reason has been Testaverde's attitude.

"Perfect," is how Edwards describes Testaverde's handling of the situation. "He's helped Chad on the sidelined and in between series. He's talked there with me. He's been a pro about it all the time. He's one of Chad's biggest supporters."


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