I have a theory, fellow Dolphins fans. It is a simple one.
Chad Pennington throws a good ball.
It’s not a rocket, or a laser, or a thunderbolt. Chad Henne’s in charge of bringing those back to Miami. It is a charge that Henne appears ready to keep.
In the meantime, it is the other Chad, the older and wiser Chad, that is the one throwing the best ball, at least, the most catchable ball. This is something that Miami's receivers unfortunately need.
A bonehead Eagles fan, whom I call one of my closest friends, asked how the fast, skinny guy from Ohio was going to handle catching the floaters that Pennington will float his way.
The implication, of course, is that Pennington lobs the ball and that Ted Ginn Jr. is a slightly-built fellow that will get destroyed by some salivating strong safety. Maybe. In any case, Ginn luckily won't have to go over the middle against the Eagles' Brian Dawkins.
But I give Ginn more credit than that. In the preseason, he has shown Wes Welker-like niftiness after the catch. It is the kind of slip-and-roll that buys five extra yards every time. The kind of elusiveness the Dolphins lost when Welker turned to the dark side.
I also give Pennington more credit. He may throw a slow-moving ball, but he has a very quick release. He is also one of the best quarterbacks at not broadcasting his throws. He is also extremely accurate and puts the ball in the best places.
Evidence? Other than the fact that he is the most accurate passer in NFL history, there are Pennington’s words to consider.
On the Monday after his first preseason start, Pennington talked about the importance of learning where receivers like the ball. He observed how some like the ball up high while others have a knack for catching lower or chest level passes.
He went on to discuss body language. The art of diagnosing how comfortable the receiver is on a play through assessing his stance. These are the things that a good veteran quarterback does. Something the Dolphins haven’t had in a while.
Back to my theory, which concerns the Dolphins' nearly infamous reputation for dropping passes during this last decade. Chris Chambers anyone? Derek Hagan is always seen getting open, only to drop the ball when it arrives.
Granted, Hagan has shown great improvement in the preseason and receivers typically come on in their third year. Still, dropped passes are a problem in training camp and could continue to be for the rest of this year, except that the Dolphins have Chad Pennington and his kid gloves.
Seriously. The softball pitcher with a diamond-bright mind is just the thing these guys need to develop hands and identities. I think that’s the most important part: the identity. Hagan was asked by a reporter what he and Pennington were talking about after the first preseason game against the Bucs.
He explained that C.P. (as he is known to his teammates in Davie, FL) was asking him about his preferences. Hagan didn’t have any. Thus the drops. Pennington alluded to noticing certain things about Hagan during the game, things Hagan himself didn't realize. C.P. may just create a receiving identity for Hagan even if Derrick isn’t aware of it.
Pennington has had success in the past because of this: well-placed, never-squeezed passes, put in places where his receivers can comfortably get it (just don’t ask Laveranues Coles about Zach Thomas, Chad Pennington, and a slow-moving pass high over the middle in late December of 2006).
In essence, it is because of Pennington’s weak arm that he has learned to thrown the ball to the places that are safest and most certain. That’s why he’s so efficient.
Please don’t get me wrong. He’s not the long-term solution, as is evidenced in his two-year contract. Chad Henne's cannon-like arm is continuing to wow fans and experts in equal measure.
I’m just saying that Pennington could be about as good a bridge as any other available. Basically, the elder Chad is a smart tutor that can teach a guy with every physical talent how to play good football without relying on them all the time.
In the meantime, we have Chad Pennington. I don't think he’s just a dink-and-dunk guy either. He manages that game well, but he is not exclusively that type of quarterback. He can get the ball downfield, especially on slants, as he did on Saturday’s scrimmage against the Jaguars.
You can chalk it up to homer-fanhood. I might chalk it up to that, too. In the meantime, I’ll leave it at two simple words.
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