Dolphins Are a Masterpiece; Chad Pennington the Artiste

Brad JamesCorrespondent IDecember 23, 2008

Week 17 is a moment of truth around the NFL. It also gives college football a tutorial about how teams should be selected to compete for championships.

Obviously, my Broncos must prove themselves in a winner-takes-all bout against the Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium, but they're not the only team searching for vindication in the AFC.

Today, I speak of Chad Pennington and how he has resuscitated a moribund franchise in what has been one of the more remarkable stories of the season.

With all due respect to the illustrious Daniel Cox (you should read his commentary, he has some pretty good stuff) and his Atlanta Falcons, the Miami Dolphins are the greatest story this season, and Chad Pennington has to be one of the major reasons why. 

Although Pennington has always been an outstandingly efficient signal-caller, his arm strength has been his major downfall.

Nevertheless, he has mustered enough to give the Dolphins a shot at a division title this Sunday at his old stomping grounds: the Meadowlands.

A glance at Pennington's stats on the season (17 TD, 10 INT, 3,453 yards) suggests that he is getting the ball downfield. Although much of the credit belongs to Ted Ginn, Greg Camarillo, and Anthony Fasano, Pennington has brought excellent leadership.

Even when his stats haven't been gaudy, Pennington has made big plays whenever he's had to. Coach Tony Sparano has noticed the innumerable ways Pennington has assisted the Dolphins.

In his press conference last Monday following the Dolphins' win at Kansas City, Sparano said he appreciates Pennington's attitude and leadership skills. He went on to say that those qualities are a major key to Miami's success.

As for the Jets, after starting the season 8-3, the bottom fell out after a loss to the Broncos. And regrettably for New York, things have not been the same since.

Now the Jets find themselves in the unenviable position of relying on the hated Patriots, even if they should hand Pennington and the Dolphins a loss.

Even if the Dolphins fall short, undoubtedly the franchise has returned to its tradition of winning. South Beach fans should be able to rejoice for many years to come.