Chad Pennington had a wonderful regular-season playing quarterback for the Miami Dolphins. His one playoff outing was terrible.
So where does that leave the Dolphins?
They have a great game manager. A great leader. A fine regular-season quarterback that can surely help them go from 1-15 to 11-6.
But do they have a championship quarterback? Do they have a guy that can help them not just reach the playoffs but win in the playoffs? Do they have the guy who can help them go from 11-6 to something greater and maybe even a Super Bowl?
Coach Tony Sparano believes so. I asked Sparano Monday if Pennington will be his starting quarterback for 2009 or if the player who threw four interceptions against Baltimore must earn the starting job all over again?
Sparano, who preached the need to have competition at every position last preseason, said Pennington is his starter for 2009. So much for the idea of Chad Henne getting a chance.
“There are a lot of issues that go on out there during the course of the ball game that can lead to throwing interceptions, fumbling the ball, giving up sacks," Sparano said. "Normal things when you give up sacks, it’s the line’s fault; well you don’t really know that. It can be the backs, it can be the receivers not running the site adjust, it can be a bunch of different things.
"There are a lot of things that went into why we didn’t play well enough yesterday, particularly on that side of the ball. That quarterback has played very well for us the entire year. I think the guy is just an outstanding player.”
Pennington indeed is an outstanding player. But again, is he a championship quarterback? That question can not be answered with facts. Pennington has not won a championship. And the game against Baltimore showed his flaws.
He threw several passes into double coverage, which I hadn't seen him do most of the season. But of greater concern, he sailed a couple of passes and Ed Reed plucked one of those out of the air and returned it for a touchdown.
I am reminded that in 2000, Jay Fiedler led the Dolphins to the AFC East championship. Much like Pennington, Fiedler was a fine leader, a guy good enough to help a good team win in the regular season. But the Dolphins believed he could also help deliver them to playoff success.
They were wrong then.
Do you think they are right this time with Pennington?