Pennington A Clear Upgrade

Coach Tony Sparano's words of optimism aside, it was clear to anyone watching Dolphins practices the team needed to do something at the quarterback position, and in getting veteran Chad Pennington that goal was accomplished. Say what you want about Pennington and his relatively weak arm, but he clearly gives the Dolphins more hope at quarterback than they had before they signed him.

The decision to sign Pennington wasn't made with the long-term future in mind, because Chad Henne still looks he's going to be that guy.

But Henne also is a rookie, which is why the Dolphins -- rightfully so -- weren't prepared to put him out there as the starter in 2008. And the reality is that in practice Henne just might have been the most impressive of the three quarterbacks on the roster.

Let's face it, rookie quarterbacks almost never succeed in the NFL, and sometimes they struggle so much that it affects them in the long term.

The Dolphins clearly are trying to avoid that with Henne.

But Josh McCown and John Beck have shown nothing in camp to give anyone confidence they can succeed as starting quarterbacks.

If he stays healthy, Pennington will get the job done. Just look at his career stats: In his six seasons with the Jets where he threw at least 200 passes, his passer rating always was at least 82.6. By comparison, the Dolphins have had exactly one starter with at least that number since 1996, and that was Jay Fiedler in 2002.

And it's not as though Pennington benefited from an all-star receiving cast with the Jets.

Pennington, at the very least, will give the Dolphins a fighting chance in most games, something we can't say they would have had with either McCown or Beck at quarterback.

Reports indicate he signed a two-year deal worth in excess of $11 million and he clearly will be the starter in 2008. If Henne progresses as hoped as a rookie, then Pennington's status would be revisited.

For this season, though, his arrival is good news.

The Dolphins had a major quarterback issue until Friday night, but that's no longer the case.

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