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Friday, January 2, 2009
Pennington passed over for MVP


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

DAVIE, Fla. -- This isn't an egregious error like the one committed for the Pro Bowl.

Whereas Brett Favre didn't warrant a trip to Honolulu ahead of Chad Pennington, it's difficult to argue Peyton Manning didn't deserve the MVP award.

Pennington

Manning won in a landslide. The Indianapolis Colts quarterback received 32 votes, way ahead of Pennington and Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner, who finished tied for second with four votes apiece.

The Miami Dolphins would not have won 11 games or qualified for the playoffs if Pennington hadn't come aboard in training camp. The New York Jets released Pennington to make room for Favre, and the Dolphins couldn't have been more thrilled.

"He's vital to this team. He really is," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said. "With Chad coming in here and doing what he's done right now, he [has brought] a bunch of people together."

Players knew Pennington would be their captain before his first practice was over. He was that sharp, that smart, that charismatic.

Had Pennington not been available, the Dolphins would've used journeyman Josh McCown or rookie Chad Henne. Neither was dazzling in early practices. Henne might have had the edge.

"I love Chad, and I love the Jets for deciding to get rid of him," Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder said.

How many games do the Dolphins win without Pennington? Five? Six? Maybe they aspire to a .500 record.

The same logic, however, can be applied to Manning's value to Indianapolis. The Colts got off to a 3-4 start while he recovered from offseason knee surgeries, and once he got comfortable again he lit up opposing defenses. The Colts won nine straight games.

The Colts wouldn't have gone 12-4 with Jim Sorgi at quarterback.

But what might have gone unappreciated by the MVP voters is that Pennington didn't have the same resources to work with as Manning did. The Dolphins don't have a Reggie Wayne or a Marvin Harrison or a Dallas Clark.

Before top receiver Greg Camarillo suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 12, Miami's game-day receiving corps consisted of only one drafted player, and Ted Ginn is considered by many to be a first-round mistake.

"Chad Pennington is my quarterback, and I'm glad he's my quarterback," Dolphins defensive end Vonnie Holliday said. "That the guy we ride with, and he gets it done for us.

"He is one hell of a quarterback, one of the best quarterbacks I've played with. I played with Brett Favre. I played with Trent Green. He ranks right up there with those guys."