Jets Rumors & News
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Sunday’s game against the win-less Dolphins marks the one-month anniversary of Chad Pennington’s official benching.

Was it really that long ago?

It seems like just yesterday he was taking snaps and floating pinpoint passes to open receivers. It seems like not long ago he was the revitalized Chad Pennington who took this team to a 10-6 record last year and an unpredictable playoff appearance.

It was a month ago when we last saw #10 run out of the tunnel as the starting QB for the New York Jets. Today, he spends his weeks preparing as the backup. A role he is very unfamiliar with and of course, not comfortable with.

The reality is, Kellen Clemens hasn’t exactly lit the NFL on fire. And other than the win against the Steelers, which gives him the same number of wins as Pennington this season, the QB change hasn’t really made a big difference.

Sure, you see signs of a more mobile and younger player. You see glimpses of hope when the ball is rifled to a receiver. But his late-game interception last week was grimly similar to Chad’s sideline floaters of yesteryear.

His stats are less than impressive. He has completed only 49.1 percent of his passes with only three touchdown passes and six interceptions in his four starts. His yards-per-attempt average is only 5.61 and his passer rating is a depressing 56.9.

In his defense, he has played against very good defenses and is taking snaps behind the same porous offensive line that Pennington did. But the jury is still out as to whether or not Clemens is the quarterback of the future for the New York Jets. Sunday’s game against the Dolphins, in what should be ideal weather conditions, could tell a lot about Kellen Clemens.

But back to Chad Pennington. To his credit, he has been a true leader during this test. He has done everything in his control to help Clemens learn and grow, on and off the field.

Despite knowing his days are numbered in New York, he has deflected questions and offered no opinions on where he will be next year. Things that if answered, would only distract a team that certainly needs no further reasons to wander from their weekly task.

Via Mark Cannizzaro of the NY Post, Pennington had this to say when asked if he would take a pay cut next year to remain on the team as a backup:

“It’s human nature to think about those things, and any time it creeps into my mind I give it about five seconds and then try to move it out of the way, because I don’t want it to take away what’s going on in our locker room with our team. That’s really important to me, to be a good teammate and not to be a distraction. That’s a disservice to my teammates.”

There aren’t a lot of QB’s in this ego-inflated league who would be handling the same situation as well as Pennington. He’s not the first player to be benched mid-season, but he’s one of the few who have handled it professionally.

Most players would flat-out tell a reporter that they won’t take a pay cut and won’t be a backup. Not Chad. Even if he feels that way, he’s smart enough to not say it.

Love him or hate him, one thing can’t be denied, Chad Pennington is a team player in the truest sense of the word.

For that, we should all be grateful.

Thanks Chad.

Jon Buzby is a nationally-syndicated columnist who can be reached through his website at www.hotstovenewyork.com.

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