Pennington is low risk, high reward


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano always has been an offensive coach. He has worked with some impressive quarterbacks: Mark Brunell, David Garrard, Drew Bledsoe, Vinny Testaverde, Tony Romo.

But Sparano hasn't seen efficiency like he has witnessed the past two weeks with Chad Pennington.

"Honestly, I haven't been around this," Sparano said. "That's true. And I've been around some good quarterbacks."

Pennington is the NFL's all-time leader in accuracy among passers with at least 1,500 attempts. So he's had some economical performances. But Pennington is on a high-percentage spell even by his standards.

Pennington set a personal record when he completed 85 percent of his passes in the Week 3 victory over the New England Patriots. He came out of the bye week and completed 75.9 percent in Sunday's triumph over the San Diego Chargers.

In those games, he is 39 of 49 for 454 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He's the first Dolphins quarterback to have a plus-100 passer rating in consecutive games since Jay Fiedler six years ago. The last Dolphin to do it in three straight games was Dan Marino in 1994.

What makes Pennington's performance even more impressive is that he didn't join Miami until Aug. 9. He's still mastering the offense.

"As a quarterback," Pennington said, "what I pride myself on is decision-making and making good, solid decisions and not putting our defense in bad situations, making sure that our offense doesn't have too many negative plays. ... Whatever it takes for us to win, that's what I'm about.

"You can throw all of the stats out the window. That's what I'm about. If it means I have to throw the ball away five times and my completion percentage goes from 75 percent to 60 percent, that's OK with me because, to me, that's good football. You're not taking sacks, not putting your offense in negative situations."

ESPN researcher Jeremy Lundblad dug up some interesting stats regarding Pennington's last two games.

  • Pennington has 10 career games (one under 20 attempts) with 75 percent completions and no interceptions. But he never before had done it in back-to-back games.

  • This is the second time Pennington has completed 75 percent or more of his passes in consecutive games. He also did it in 2002.

  • As part of that stretch in 2002, Pennington had four straight games with a passer rating over 100.

  • Pennington is 17-6 when he starts and has a 100-plus passer rating.