Looking Back, Chad Pennington Was Everything the New York Jets Needed at QB
November 4, 2007; East Rutherford, NJ, USA: New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington #10 watches the game from the sidelines against the Washington Redskins at Giants Stadium. Mandatory Credit: TIM FARRELL/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets fan base has been starving for a franchise quarterback for years, but when they had one, they didn’t appreciate him.

What? The New York Jets had a franchise quarterback this century?

Yes, it’s true, you may have missed him. Although, I’m not sure how considering he played 11 seasons in the NFL and is arguably the last franchise quarterback the Jets have had since Broadway Joe Namath.

Chad Pennington

An underappreciated former first-round quarterback for the Jets, Pennington was drafted the same year Tom Brady was … if you can believe it.

Pennington was the first quarterback selected, 18th overall, while Brady was taken 191 picks later in the sixth round. Crazy stuff. The Jets had four first round draft choices and it seemed like this could be a draft that replenished the Jets hopes of the future.

Here were his career highlights with Gang Green:

  • Completed a franchise-record 68.9 percent of his passes in 2002 to lead the NFL.
  • Led the Jets to the AFC East title in 2002, the team’s last division title.
  • Led the Jets to the playoffs all three times he started at least 12 games (2002, 2004, 2006).
  • Named the 2006 AP Comeback Player of the Year with the Jets, per ESPN Stats and Info.

But apparently, that wasn’t good enough. The only thing I consistently heard Pennington get beat up for was his “weak arm strength.”

I swear to God if I hear that one more time by John Madden on the Madden video game, I’ll pull what little hair left I have in my head.

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“Great throw by Pennington, although he doesn’t have the biggest arm, he’s got a big heart.” — John Madden

Jets fans love to rank on this guy and I never really knew why. He’s one of the most accurate quarterbacks in history (more on that in a second). When Jets fans cheered him getting injured in the mid-2000’s, I threw up a little.

In an ESPN Power Rankings, they listed the top “franchise quarterbacks” in Jets history. Of course, Joe Namath was No. 1, but Pennington is rated No. 2 ahead of Ken O’Brien and Vinny Testaverde.

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I still have my Jets Pennington FatHead on my wall in my living room. No joke, I can show on request (@BoyGreen25). He was one of my favorite players in NFL history and of course one of my favorite Jets of all time.

Pennington is the No. 2 most accurate quarterback of all-time behind Drew Brees. Even when the Jets went title-chasing with Brett Favre and dumping Pennington he came back and served the Jets by winning the AFC East.

The 2002 campaign saw his best season unfold when the Jets won the AFC East. Ahh, good times. 22 touchdowns to six interceptions, great ratio.

How many times has a Jets quarterback had a 2:1 TD to interception ratio?

It’s only happened once, outside of Fitzpatrick’s 2015 campaign in the 21st century. And Pennington had a nearly quadruple ratio, yet Chad was never that good, right?

The Jets are currently trying the #SuckForSam strategy and I hope it pays off, but when the Jets get a halfway decent quarterback, I have some advice: enjoy it. The last thing Jets fans should be snooty about is quarterback play, believe me.

 NEXT: This Atrocious Jets Roster Can Still Win 8 Games 


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Paul A. Esden, Jr.

People call me Boy Green for my unwavering dedication to all things New York Jets. I work at The Score 1260 in Syracuse and I’m extremely passionate about sports. I aspire to continue my rise through the business and hopefully I’ll end up working for the New York Jets in some capacity.