Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

08 Oct 2007

Questions About Pennington Mount as Jets Keep Losing

There are a lot of things going wrong with the New York Jets' 2007 season. Their pass defense through the first four games is on pace to be by far the worst of any team during the DVOA era. The run defense only looks good when placed in comparison to the pass defense. Thomas Jones has failed to upgrade the anemic ground game. But the most visible problem is at quarterback, where Chad Pennington's decision making in recent weeks has not been good enough to compensate for his limited arm strength. With the Jets stuck at 1-4, is it time to put in Kellen Clemens? And if so, what is the future for the franchise's all-time winningest quarterback?

Posted by: Michael David Smith on 08 Oct 2007

76 comments, Last at 11 Oct 2007, 10:51pm by Alex

Comments

1
by David (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 1:15pm

Miami fans, meet your new quarterback!

2
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 1:24pm

Jets DVOA

year/offense/defense

2007 -3.5% +34.0%
2006 +2.7% +10%

Chad Pennington is not the problem with the Jets. He's not even a part of the problem. He's one of the few parts of the Jets that is actually working. The defense was BAD last year, and they're even WORSE this year.

Mangenius indeed.

3
by Alex (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 2:48pm

I'm with Rich on this one. Pennington was 14th in DVOA last year. This year, through 4 weeks, he's 8th. QB is about the last position the Jets have to worry about.

4
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:00pm

I think Pennington is very limited but makes up for it well by using the YAC skills of Coles extremely effectively. I don't think he's any worse than he was last year; in fact, he has a QB rating of 89.3. (We don't have DVOA for his latest game, which was obviously subpar, but up until that game he had a DVOA in the 30s, like Palmer and Favre.)

I think the Jets were lucky and they had an easy schedule last year. This year isn't as kind to them. But I don't see any reason to go about blaming the QB when their defense is 32nd in the league in DVOA and DAVE.

If Clemens is a better quarterback at this point, then fine, go with him. But that's not going to make DeWayne Robertson learn to shed blocks.

5
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:11pm

Ummm... yes, Pennington is a major part of the problem with the Jets. The Jets are a flawed team, but the biggest plays in each of the last 2 Jets games have been horrendous Pennington interceptions. If Rex Grossman, Eli Manning, or Phillip Rivers threw that INT Pennington did with the Jets winning 24-21, people would be calling for their public decapitation. It was a horrible decision and an even worse throw. Aaron Ross said after the game, "there isn't much on his throws, so they're very easy to catch." Coles was magnificent yesterday... imagine if he had a QB who hit him in stride down the field.

Kellen Clemens needs to start. That won't change the fact the Jets aren't physical at the point of attack, which makes it hard to get a running game going.

6
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:13pm

"
#

Ummm… yes, Pennington is a major part of the problem with the Jets. The Jets are a flawed team, but the biggest plays in each of the last 2 Jets games have been horrendous Pennington interceptions. "

Yes, but Pennington wouldn't be forcing the ball like he is if the defense wasn't getting steamrolled.

Their offense is league average. Pennington is top 10 in the league.

Their defense is Break-DVOA-its-so-bad BAD. This team could have Jesus at QB, and they're still not going to win games.

7
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:26pm

We don't have to agree on how big a part of the problem Chad is, but you can't make an excuse for the INT. I expect a "top 10 QB" not to kill his team with that type of decision. The Jets were winning 24-21 with a 1st down on the Giants 23 yard line. You can't blame that on the defense no matter how hard you try.

It certainly doesn't fix all their problems, but I think it allows them to take better advantage of their skill players.

8
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:31pm

". The Jets were winning 24-21 with a 1st down on the Giants 23 yard line. "

Because of Pennington and the special teams. You put Clemens in that game, and the Jets lose by 30.

9
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:32pm

"It certainly doesn’t fix all their problems, but I think it allows them to take better advantage of their skill players."

Which isn't a problem right now. Their offense is decent. They could improve their offense to colts level, and they still don't win 8 games without fixing the defense.

10
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:53pm

#8... The Jets scored SEVEN points with their offense in this game. Even on that scoring drive, the three key plays were a 15 yard facemask penalty and 2 jumpball passes in which the Giants corners missed easy plays because they had no clue where the ball was. Pennington was not that good yesterday. Granted, the running game was worse. They scored 14 points the week before on a ravaged Buffalo defense.

Kellen Clemens can't do better than 7 points? I think you're really overrating Pennington's performances.

11
by Marko (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:59pm

"This team could have Jesus at QB, and they’re still not going to win games."

Jesus wasn't much of a QB. He was a good runner, particularly in wet conditions, since he could walk on water. But he didn't have a good arm. However, he might have been helped by the fact that his father probably wanted his team to win every game. No opposing QB (not even Jon Kitna) could overcome that.

12
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 3:59pm

By sticking with Pennington the Jets signal he's the QB starter now and into next year, right? Or will they wait until eliminated from playoff contention? Pennington has performed well enough to be given the benefit of doubt until they are out of playoff race, at least. As maddening as it is to watch him throw the ball and pick teams apart even though he's only throwing it more than 15 yards on a few plays (they pick those ones well)... he deserves to stick...

13
by Tom (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:01pm

Can't they just wait for Pennington's annual injury? [/in bad taste]

14
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:05pm

"he Jets scored SEVEN points with their offense in this game."

points scored is as much a function of defense as it was offense.

Field Position IS important. The Jets started 1 drive! past their own 40 yard line. They started 7 of their 11 drives inside their own 30. Teams don't often drive 70+ yards.... well, unless they're playing the Jets.

So Yeah, I think Kellen Clemens scores less than 7 points in that game. I think they lose by 40 if Clemens plays.

The Jets Offense is average, and their QB has positive DVOA.

15
by pete c (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:12pm

Kellen Clemens is not a savior. Neither was Chad Pennington In October of 2002. At that time, the Jets were coming off of a 3 game losing streak in which they lost by a combined 102-13. Yet, when he came in the team turned everything around and won the division. Now, this jet team is not going 9-2, i'm not an idiot. But if Clemens comes in, then at the very least defenses will have to respect the deep ball. That will open up the run game. That, in turn, will keep our putrid defense off the field.

16
by Kal (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:17pm

Rich, DVOA isn't everything. Yes, on average Pennington's decisions are better than most QBs - but how much of Pennington's liabilities are responsible for their anemic running game? How much of his bad decisions and bad arm strength are responsible for the losses?

You can say that Clemens would cause them to lose by 40, but that's just conjecture. The fact is, Pennington lost a very winnable game for the Jets, a game that their defense had been keeping them in. DVOA can't figure out how bad that interception looked or how bad that decision was. DVOA can't figure out that because Pennington can't throw it long, defenses can stack against the short pass or the run.

Stats are useful, and DVOA's even more useful, but it isn't everything.

17
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:25pm

"VOA can’t figure out that because Pennington can’t throw it long, defenses can stack against the short pass or the run.

Stats are useful, and DVOA’s even more useful, but it isn’t everything. "

DVOA says their rush attack is -16.1% Thats bad. 25th in the league.

Their Defense is 34%. 5% worse than anyone else in the league.

Order of things that need to be fixed for NYJ to be competitive.

1. D-Line
2. Linebackers
3. Offensive Line
4. Secondary
5. Special teams coverage
6. Pennington

Seriously. Pennington isn't perfect, but QB is the position, other than maybe RB, that they're most set at.

18
by Sean McCormick :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:41pm

No, DVOA isn't everything, but in this case it's more than enough. The Jets pass defense was on a pace to be the worst unit in the DVOA era by nearly 30%- other than the 99 49ers team going through salary cap hell, the Jets pass defense has been literally twice as bad as the worst units of the last ten years. The Jets are an easy team to diagnose, stats wise. The pass defense is atrocious, the run defense is very poor and the running game is non-existent. If you want to blame that on Pennington, you could, but it's been non-existent for three years with five different quarterbacks under center, so you might want to look at the OL instead.

19
by Justus (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 4:46pm

"I expect a 'top 10 QB' not to kill his team with that type of decision."

Top 10 QBs do that kind of thing every year. "Top 10" encompasses people like Jake Plummer (#9 in PAR in 2004), Kerry Collins (#3 in DPAR in 2002), Michael Vick (#10 in DPAR in 2002), Brian Griese (#2 in DVOA in 2000), and Elvis Grbac (#6 in DPAR in 2000).

I would submit that you have unrealistic expectations for what constitutes a "Top 10" quarterback.

20
by Kal (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 5:00pm

#17: Rich, again, how does DVOA differentiate between the Jets being awful on running because they've got no deep pass and because their line is horrible and their RBs stink? It really can't. Their adjusted sack rate is bad as is their running attack, but don't mistake correlation for causation; as has been pointed out, a sack rate is partially because of bad line play, and partially because of bad QB play. Same goes for RB performance.

The Jets are an easy team to diagnose, stats wise. The pass defense is atrocious, the run defense is very poor and the running game is non-existent. If you want to blame that on Pennington, you could, but it’s been non-existent for three years with five different quarterbacks under center, so you might want to look at the OL instead.

The thing is - the Jets can't replace the OLine with a younger, better OLine on the bench. They can't replace the defense with a younger, better defense on the bench. But they've got a solution at QB that's just sitting there right now and who showed glimpses of success earlier this year.

It's useless to say as an argument that Pennington is not the problem in Jetland, because they can't fix the other problems. That's not the point; the point is whether Pennington is playing badly enough to warrant trying out someone who looks better, and whether they'd be better off with someone else who can air out the ball with some authority and can make those out patterns?

21
by Sean McCormick :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 5:15pm

Clemens posted one of the worst DVOA performances of the year when he played. Jets fans like to get misty-eyed over it, but his 4th quarter stats get downgraded because the Ravens were protecting a 17-point lead; in short, because they happened in garbage time. He got better as the game went on and showed some spunk, but his performance shouldn't be blown out of proportion.

On top of that, the best thing the offense can do to protect the defense is to hold onto the ball. They have no serious rushing attack, but they are able to sustain long periods of possession with their controlled passing game. Pennington's style has the potential to protect the defense to a greater degree than the downfield approach Jets fans might prefer.

22
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 5:18pm

"ich, again, how does DVOA differentiate between the Jets being awful on running because they’ve got no deep pass and because their line is horrible and their RBs stink?"

If we didn't KNOW the line is awful, you might have a point.

23
by Joe T. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 5:31pm

How come nobody in the Northeast is ever satisfied with their QBs? McNabb, Pennington, Manning Lite, Losman...I suspect if the Patriots lost 2 or three games in a row this season Bostonians would demand Matt Cassel start.

24
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 5:42pm

I haven't seen much of the Jets in the last few years. I did watch them yesterday, though, and Pennington looked horrible.

I can appreciate that he has a good DVOA. He's clearly a good QB who just doesn't have the arm anymore. He makes good reads, is very accurate - but can't gun it between defenders anymore, and the sidelines might as well be in Guam. Every out is a pick-6 waiting to happen.

I've seen this before, with Kosar late in his career when his arm was shot. It was tough to watch (and the QB switch, while the correct move, was mishandled beyond comprehension), like this must be for Jets fans. I have no idea how good Clemens is. And Pennington can still make some throws here and there. But this is not a playoff team barring a miracle (like last year's incredible string of luck), and Pennington is not the future anymore. He's not going to get any better, and you'd better believe defenses are smelling blood in the water. They pretty much have to make the switch soon, if not now. I hate to say it, because I don't like calling for people to get benched, and I like Pennington. But it's time.

25
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 5:42pm

Look, if Clemens can't play, then you don't play Clemens, but don't be fooled. Pennington can't make the throws required to push an above average defense except in the most favorable of circumstances. He isn't even particularly well suited for his home field, and he isn't going to get any better. Jeff Garcia is John Elway compared to Pennington.

26
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 5:51pm

I was one of the overoptimistic homers who thought the Vikings, a team with a good defense and decent o-line, could sneak by with Brad Johnson last year, weak arm and all. They couldn't. Now, Johnson is also a complete statue, and his only decent receiver got himself suspended for taking a header of the wagon just before the start of the season, but the fact remained that his limited throwing ability put great limitations on what could be done, and helped result in the Vikings seeing eight and even nine in the box on a constant basis.

27
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:03pm

#17: Rich, again, how does DVOA differentiate between the Jets being awful on running because they’ve got no deep pass and because their line is horrible and their RBs stink?

God, this idea of "if opposing defenses respect the deep pass, it'll open up our running game!" is just silly.

Putting in a rookie with a big arm won't make defenses suddenly drop back into coverage. Michael Vick had a big arm. Defenses didn't care. You don't get a first down when you throw the ball 10 feet over someone's head.

They won't start shading the safeties deeper until a quarterback comes in who can find a receiver coming open deep (which means the offensive line has to pass protect), and complete a pass deep, regularly. Moreover, it won't matter unless that quarterback can also complete short passes as well, because you just can't complete deep passes frequently enough to move the chains. Which means that the only thing that will help the Jets is a solid, all-around good quarterback.

Believing that Clemens is that guy is just wishcasting. It may be that putting him in is better for the long term - just toss the season utterly, and find out what you've got - but for the short term, it's just ludicrous to think that defenses are going to think "My God. It's Kellen Clemens! We better cover all those routes we weren't worrying about before, because he's a quarterback who can do some damage!" They won't. Instead, they'll eat a rookie playing behind a poor offensive line for lunch.

I'm not saying don't put Clemens in. But don't do it because you think he'll help the team this year. He won't. The team will likely suck worse. And if the team knows Clemens isn't the long term answer either, don't bother putting him in, because it won't do any good. Just shoot for worst record in the NFL and snag a quarterback high in the draft.

28
by Are-Tee (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:13pm

While starting Clemens won't solve the Jets' other problems, it will offer relief to Jet fans like me who have to read the incessant "bench Chad" rhetoric in the media and on the web.

29
by Are-Tee (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:18pm

Actually, the one area the Jets have improved significantly over the first 5 games has been pass protection. D'Brickashaw Ferguson has gone up against Jason Taylor, Schobel & Umenyura the last 3 games and yielded only 1 sack, that coming with 3 minutes left in the Giants game.

30
by Kal (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:18pm

I’m not saying don’t put Clemens in. But don’t do it because you think he’ll help the team this year. He won’t. The team will likely suck worse.

That's absolutely true. This year at least. Maybe. Clemens may improve quite a bit in a few games as well. He does project to be an excellent QB in the NFL too. It might be good to give the rookie some reps if you know the season is a wash and Pennington isn't it.

As to respecting Clemens; well, he regularly was able to hit long patterns in college and has a much faster arm. If a defense doesn't respect that, it will hurt them. Whether he's competent or not is an issue, but that's kind of irrelevant; of course the defense won't respect a long pass if the team can't make a long pass to save its life. I'm saying that having the ability to make long plays does open up the field for shorter plays and running plays. Whether Clemens is the one to do that or not, Pennington sure as heck isn't.

31
by Bionicman (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:23pm

I saw the Jets-Giants game yesterday, as well as the Jets-Buffalo the week before. The fact that Pennington's DVOA and DPAR are positive proves that the systems are still hugely flawed. In the Bills game, he threw easy checkdown after easy checkdown to receivers who were less than ten yards downfield, or to players out of the backfield (check out NFL's play by play; the receivers gained so many yards from YAC it's not funny). DVOA desperately needs an adjustment for YAC, because Pennington posted decent numbers despite throwing maybe two passes a Division I college QB might not have made. And his two interceptions were just terrible. As I noticed in the offseason, his interception ratios don't fit with his reputation as a 'smart' quarterback. Same with the Giants game; he had one decent 'deep' pass (which ironically went incomplete), but also had two terrible ones where Coles bailed him out. On his touchdown, his receiver (Smith) deserved more credit than Pennington. And the less said about the interception in the end zone, the better. His other two interceptions were both his fault as well (failure to notice a player in coverage and lack of arm strength). He isn't nearly as smart as his rep suggests, he has a weak arm, and he's no threat as a runner.

Besides, the Jets' awful defense guarantees that they won't be making the playoffs this year, and Pennington doesn't have much time left with that arm, so the Jets might as well see what they have in Clemens.

32
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:29pm

Actually, the one area the Jets have improved significantly over the first 5 games has been pass protection.

That's with a quarterback with experience and pocket presence, though, and working only on short routes. Asking them to pass protect for Clemens is an entirely different matter.

If a defense doesn’t respect that, it will hurt them

Yeah, as much as a team going from down 31-0 to down 31-7 "hurts."

I’m saying that having the ability to make long plays does open up the field for shorter plays and running plays.

I just don't get the logic. What do you think is going to happen? So the safeties shade a bit deeper. So what? Clemens isn't going to be able to find the open receiver on short routes as fast as Pennington would, and so the safeties shading deeper won't make a difference on shorter pass plays. There may be a receiver or two open, but Clemens won't hit them.

On running plays, it'll be the difference between a zero-yard gain and an occasional 3-yard gain. Big deal. That still won't move the chains unless you run pretty much every down, and in that case, the safeties will move forward because you have no trust in your QB. And if you then decide to say "ah ha, now I'll pass," you're trusting a rookie to recognize a defense that's shading to stop the run. Yeah. Good luck with that.

It might be good to give the rookie some reps if you know the season is a wash and Pennington isn’t it.

That's the only reason to put Clemens in, assuming you don't know that Clemens isn't going to be a decent QB either.

33
by pete c (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:32pm

bionic, you are absolutely correct. Pennington just does not throw downfield. Mostly what he throws are checkdowns, and since the defense does not respect the deep-ball, the checkdown does not work as a viable option. And Sean, if i'm not mistaken Clemens was an FO darling in the past. He played one road game in a horrendous place to play. The jury is still out. If Clemens plays, he runs a completely different offense than Penny's. Pennington's game works if he's not turning the ball over. Unfortunately, his int's the last 2 weeks were the difference between a respectable 3-2 and a dead 1-4

34
by Sean McCormick :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:47pm

Pete- I'm not anti-Clemens at all. In fact, I think the team should put together a package for him and play him, much in the same manner that the Cardinals were using Kurt Warner. My issue is simply that changing the quarterback is a cosmetic move that does nothing to address the real issues the team has, and would probably hurt it. The Jets have kept the score close in every game that Pennington has been healthy in- the Pats pulled away after Pennington's injury, and Clemens started the Ravens game- and that's a function of Pennington's ability to keep his own defense off the field for long stretches without the benefit of a viable ground game.

Bionic- There's nothing wrong with DVOA, at least not with what you are describing. The whole idea is that offenses that put themselves in good down and distances tend to be successful at converting. Pennington is checking down, but as long as those check downs are garnering sufficient yardage, it's fine. Checking down and getting to 2nd and 6 is far better than chucking the ball downfield and winding up in 2nd and 10. Is he helped by his receivers? Sure...but so is every quarterback who runs a precision passing game. Was Joe Montana helped by Jerry Rice's ability to turn a 5-yard slant into an 80-yard touchdown? Of course. Pennington isn't showing that kind of accuracy, but he is at the very least putting the ball in space where his receivers can make plays.

The other thing which goes unremarked on is the fact that the Jets receivers don't get much separation. Pennington was attacking downfield against man coverage and ended up having to fit the ball into some very tight windows because the Giants DBs were in perfect position. Cotchery and Coles both have some real strengths, but gaining separation is not one of them. That limits the offense every bit as much as Pennington's weak arm.

35
by Josh (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 6:48pm

"Clemens posted one of the worst DVOA performances of the year when he played. Jets fans like to get misty-eyed over it, but his 4th quarter stats get downgraded because the Ravens were protecting a 17-point lead; in short, because they happened in garbage time. He got better as the game went on and showed some spunk, but his performance shouldn’t be blown out of proportion"

Sean, I generally agree that too many Jets fans forget how Clemens struggled in the first 3 quarters and only remember his good play in the 4th quarter. But I think he performed better than his DVOA for that game (which will likely improve as opponent adjustment is more heavily weighted). Part of why Jets fans think so highly of Clemens' play in the 4th quarter is that he threw three passes on the final drive that should have been caught for TDs, and more often than not in the NFL would be. DVOA doesn't realize that he threw three passes should have been caught for the game-tying TD. Over the course of the season I beleive these things even out with DVOA, but when we're just looking at one game, it's important to remember that DVOA can't catch that.

36
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 7:53pm

Sean, when you have receivers who can't get seperation, that merely compounds the drawbacks of a weak armed qb. I don't have any opinion on Clemens, but I can say definitively that the Jets' roster is woefully constructed. Boy, it sure is an advantage that feeds on itself to have a personnel office and coaching staff which are stable and in synch.

37
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 8:50pm

". DVOA desperately needs an adjustment for YAC, because Pennington posted decent numbers despite throwing maybe two passes a Division I college QB might not have made."

YAC is mostly dependant on the QB hitting the reciever in stride, and recognizing that the receiver has an opportunity. You might think that a D 1 college QB could make all those throws, but half the starting QBs in the NFL can't.

38
by Sean McCormick :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 8:53pm

Josh,

I agree, and I don't want to be hard on Clemens, who really settled in after two shaky series early on- you could tell that he was going to play well later in the game even when the offense was still struggling in the second and third quarters. I think he'll be a good player. But Jets fans tend to overreact to arm strength simply because they haven't seen it in a while, and they don't recognize what Pennington is doing well.

Will- Agreed. Of course, they are still in the middle of rebuilding, and the biggest issue is that expectations were altered last year when they ran through an incredibly easy schedule. They're at least another offseason away, if not two, from having the personnel in place to run their offensive and defensive systems.

39
by Michael David Smith :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 10:24pm

This has been an interesting thread, but I wonder if some people leaving comments didn't actually read the article.

Re comment 2: "Chad Pennington is not the problem with the Jets. He’s not even a part of the problem."

You can't be serious. I know of no one who thinks Pennington is the problem. But the Jets just lost a game in which their defense and special teams both scored touchdowns and their quarterback was below replacement-level, and you don't even think he's part of the problem?

40
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 10:35pm

#35: Lewin's projection system being so high on Clemens doesn't mean he'll be good from the get-go. It's a measure of how good his performance will be at peak.

I have no problem with people who say "put Clemens in now, let's see how he does." I have a lot of problems with people who think that putting Clemens in will help the team this year. It won't. For all of the advantages that Clemens has over Pennington, it'll take Clemens at least a year before he's clearly better. This isn't Clemens replacing Tommy Maddox.

Especially with a defense as poor as the Jets have, Clemens will just be in there trying to come back from 21-point deficits chucking the ball downfield and racking up interceptions while desperately trying to avoid being sacked.

41
by Dennis (not verified) :: Mon, 10/08/2007 - 11:02pm

As a Jets fan, I'm firmly on the bench Pennington bandwagon. The season is over. I have no illusions that Clemens can lead them to the playoffs, but if he's the QB of the future, let's get him some experience and see what he can do.

42
by gmc (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 2:36am

Pennington IS that bad.

Part of the problem with DVOA is captured here: and I don't mean to criticize DVOA, I'm only suggesting that deciding matters on a per-play, success-oriented (and therefore first-down rather than touchdown-oriented) basis will always make players like Pennington, Favre (2007 version) and Tom Brady look better than they really are.

Peyton Manning completes 16 yard out patterns like they're nothing. Pennington makes perfect throws (for him, meaning lobs way up in the air) and requires perfect catches from Coles.

That's best case.

Make no mistake. Pennington is a competent NFL quarterback, who would win playoff games if not Super Bowls for the Chicago Bears or Baltimore Colts. He's General Checkdown, not Captain Checkdown. He's actually GOOD at it. IT just happens to be useless when your team is bottom half in defensive DVOA.

43
by gmc (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 2:41am

Baltimore RAVENS.

I think.

44
by Alex (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 4:32am

You can’t be serious. I know of no one who thinks Pennington is the problem. But the Jets just lost a game in which their defense and special teams both scored touchdowns and their quarterback was below replacement-level, and you don’t even think he’s part of the problem?

In that particular game? Sure, he was part of the problem. In fact, he probably cost them the win. But that wasn't a typical performance, for either the Jets D/ST or Pennington. The Jets haven't been averaging 2 Defensive/ST TDs a game, and they're not going to over a full season. Not even close. And Pennington hasn't been averaging -1.7 DPAR/game, and he won't over a full season. Not even close. He's had 16.1 DPAR in 4 games so far, at a rate of about 4 DPAR/G. That's a better DPAR/G than he had last year.

Sure, the defense made some big plays in a game, and it happened to come at the same time that Pennington had a bad day, but seriously, you could make a similar argument about any QB.

In his first two playoff games of 2006, Peyton Manning threw 1 TD and 5 INTs, while his defense only gave up 14 points total. If you judged the situation by just those two games, it'd look like Manning was the problem with the Colts, when we all know that he is their main strength.

How can you seriously say that a QB with a 31.9% DVOA, who leads an offense that's about league average, is part of the problem for a team that has a defense with a DVOA of 34%?

I mean, yeah, if the Jets want to be an offensive juggernaut, flying down the field and scoring 30 points a game, they're going to have to find another QB. But that's the least important thing for them to worry about right now. If their defense were merely average, they'd be a decent team.

Pennington is, at the very least, an above average player, despite his well documented physical limitations. And when your team is in the bottom 5 in the NFL, an above average player is not a part of the problem.

45
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 6:22am

Pennington makes perfect throws (for him, meaning lobs way up in the air) and requires perfect catches from Coles.

Either you're wrong, or perfection happens at a 78% clip with the Jets, since that's what Pennington's been completing passes at.

Pennington's not a top-shelf QB. He has limitations, sure. He's probably hurting the running game a little, sure. And yes, he's not good enough to will a team with a wretched defense to victory.

But the only kind of QB that would be able to is in Indianapolis, and New England, and maybe even Dallas (frighteningly).

Replacing Pennington will not help the Jets this year. No way. No chance. It may help them in the future, but this year? Nope. Every single rookie QB who has succeeded has succeeded with either a strong defense so a simplified offense will work fine, or has been a scrambling QB. Clemens will not have a strong defense, and he is not a scrambling QB.

Replacing Pennington will just make the Jets worse this year. Again, if this is all about the future, fine, cool, chuck him. But the fans who are thinking that Clemens will help the team to win because of his arm are enjoying some fine, fine pipe dreams.

46
by Michael David Smith :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 9:03am

Re 44: "But that wasn’t a typical performance, for either the Jets D/ST or Pennington."

Has anyone suggested it was?

47
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 1:22pm

MDS, I believe thats exactly what Kal was suggesting.

48
by pete c (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 1:31pm

I have trouble believing that the Jets would not be a better team for the next 6 weeks with Clemens as the starter. The Jets just lost 2 games in horrific fashion. Penny just has not looked the same this year. Either he's too afraid to go downfield or the defenses are loading up on Cotchery/Coles. Every throw is a checkdown. This strategy only works if you are not turning the ball over. Remember the Jets were 4-4 and very nearly 6-2 last year with a defense in the first 8 games that was just as bad. The difference? No crippling turnovers. When your strength is accuracy, yet you are throwing bad INTs, then you cannot be worse

49
by Alex (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 1:34pm

Re 44: “But that wasn’t a typical performance, for either the Jets D/ST or Pennington.�

Has anyone suggested it was?

Well, what am I supposed to make of this?

the Jets just lost a game in which their defense and special teams both scored touchdowns and their quarterback was below replacement-level, and you don’t even think he’s part of the problem?

You seem to be implying that Pennington is dragging the team down, while the defense and special teams are trying to keep them competitive. Otherwise, how is that statement relevant here?

Sure, Pennington had a bad game, and on top of that, he had a bad game on one of those wierd, flukey days when the defense decided to show up.

But that's not why the team has a losing record. They have a losing record because their defense has been abysmal so far this year. Changing the QB isn't going to make a damn bit of difference there.

And honestly, were people saying that Pennington needed to be replaced last year? Because he's playing basically the same this year as he was then. The only thing that's different is that his defense has gone from "bad" to "black hole of suck", and so the team doesn't have a winning record.

The Jets can win with Pennington. But they can't win with the worst defense in the league.

50
by Kal (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 2:43pm

Has anyone suggested it was?

Yep, I suggested it. From every game I've seen of Pennington, that was exactly a typical performance from him. Some times he can get away with it, some times he can't. And as bad as the Jets defense is, as bad as their running game is (arguments aside to why it's bad, it is bad), Pennington will cost the Jets some games that were otherwise winnable.

51
by Todd S. (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 3:12pm

#6

"And The Savior drops back, here comes the rush, he throws to his right, and...OH MY!...Champ Bailey just turned into a pillar of salt! Coles is running down the sideline, past John Lynch, for an easy touchdown. The Broncos can't like what they've seen out there today."

52
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 3:43pm

"Remember the Jets were 4-4 and very nearly 6-2 last year with a defense in the first 8 games that was just as bad. "

The jets defense last year was 10%. Its 30% this year. It is literally 3 times as bad as last year.

53
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 3:44pm

"Pennington will cost the Jets some games that were otherwise winnable."

He might, but the defense will cost them a lot more games.

54
by Jim G (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 4:57pm

how much of Pennington’s liabilities are responsible for their anemic running game?

How much are Brees' liabilities responsible for the the Saints' anemic running game this year -- under 2 a carry in the second half this week as he threw 2 more picks to lose?

Pennington lost a very winnable game for the Jets, a game that their defense had been keeping them in.

Are you kidding? The Jets got the lead at the end of the first half on Pennington's beautiful 93-yard 2-minute TD drive. Remember that? Then LW ran a kick back for a TD.

Then in the second half the Giants got 257 yards, averaging 6.1 a carry(!) while the Jets had the lead, letting Eli use play action so easily he looked like Peyton -- 188 yards rushing total.

The Jets' D kept 'em in the game there like the French army kept our side in WWII.

55
by Jim G (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 5:07pm

"DVOA can’t figure out how bad that interception looked or how bad that decision was..."

Isn't it strange how previously smart QBs suddenly have their IQs plunge and start making so many "bad decisions" when their running games, OLs and defenses dissapper?

Last year Brees was MVP-runner up. This year he has a 57 rating and TD-to-pick ratio of 1-9, more INTs than anyone else in the league.

Talk about suddenly making bad decisions! Yeah, his OL has collapsed, he has no running game, and his team's D stinks, so he has to go chuck chuck chuck into a D sitting on the pass to try and move the team by himself.

But that has nothing to do with it! If you watch his picks, they look so awful you can tell right there with your own eyes that his IQ has plunged this year for some reason, and he's now making bad decisions.

Now, while the Jets had the lead and the Giants were rushing for a 6.1 average the Jets running game gained all of 5 yards on 4 carries (two thrown for a loss). So Chad had to go chuck chuck chuck trying to move the team all by himself against a D sitting on the pass. Some might think that's a sure situation for throwing picks, set up by the total lack of D and run game.

But no, the picks looked bad so it must be that Chad's IQ has dropped, and for the first time in his career he's suddenly become a bad decision maker.

Well, we have the consolation at least that he hasn't become nearly as dim as Brees, who seems to experiencing the down side of "Flowers for Algernon".

56
by Kal (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 5:43pm

But no, the picks looked bad so it must be that Chad’s IQ has dropped, and for the first time in his career he’s suddenly become a bad decision maker.

He's making attempts on throws that he would not make before, and those throws are bad throws. I don't know what else you want me to say; did you actually see that hideous pass in the end zone that got picked?

Brees isn't doing all that well in NO, but a lot of that is a regression of many of his other weapons. I'm not sure that there's much of a regression for the Jets offense from last year, but there certainly is from Pennington.

I don't know what changed from last year, but he's started taking more chances and making worse plays when he doesn't need to. Case in point on the pass in the end zone; if he just throws it away, the jets still have second and 10 at the 23, and can kick a field goal to make it a 6-point game.

I don't know if Pennington is a problem in all their games, but he was a problem in this one.

57
by Jim G (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 5:47pm

For the Jets fans who say, "we don't want a QB like Pennington, we want someone who can throw ropes", what you are saying is you want Eli Manning (or Harrington, Leaf, Leftwich, or any of a long-list of strong-armed stud failures) as your QB.

If what you mean is "We do want a QB like Pennington but who also can throw ropes", then you are saying you want Peyton Manning as your QB.

Is Chad's arm "part of the problem"? Sure, it'd help out if the arm was stronger. But how much of the team's problem is Chad's arm?

Well, when the Jets running game is averaging 3 a carry (2.x really, because the average is inflated by prevent-D runs) ... And the Jets D, when it isn't giving up 188 yds rushing is getting all of 3 sacks in 5 games while giving opponents a passing rating of 103.5 (Peyton Manning's rating was 101 last year -- with the Jets' opposing QBs being been 80% Eli, Boller [a backup], Edwards [a rookie backup] and Green leading the mighty Fins O.) ... well, one who prioritizes the Jets deficiencies might reasonably list Chad's limitations that keep him in the middle of the pack of the league's QBs at around 12th or 15th.

If a new QB comes in with an arm as strong as Eli's, is he going to tackle runners and play pass defense too?

Obsession with the idea that changing QBs will suddenly make this team competitive is just a psychological defense against dealing with the reality that it's going to take changing the entire D and the running half of the O to make this team competitive ... and confronting all the time that's going to take.

58
by Michael David Smith :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 6:25pm

Jim G, who are you referring to when you talk about "the idea that changing QBs will suddenly make this team competitive"? Who has expressed that idea?

59
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 6:34pm

58.

MDS, Kal has, repeatedly.

60
by B (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 6:34pm

58: I'm just guessing here, but the New York Post, and any sports radio shows that focus on the Jets.

61
by Kal (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 6:42pm

MDS, Kal has, repeatedly.

Uh, no. I've said that it may make them better. I've also said in this very thread that Clemens isn't going to make them competitive, but it will improve them in a place that they have an actual way to improve.

62
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 6:49pm

Point in favor of the bench-Pennington crowd is this: you can't bench the entire O-line, the entire defense, all the RBs, etc.

Point against: the offense the Jets currently run is tailored to Pennington's strengths, not Clemens's. You could reasonably install Clemens after the bye, except the Jets' bye comes in week 10 this year.

Tough call. Were I in Mangini's position (and I'm glad I'm not), I'd thank Pennington for his valued service and tell Clemens it's his turn in the barrel, then start Clemens practicing with the first-team offense. Maybe give Brian Schottenheimer a week to draw up plays that are geared toward Clemens's stronger arm.

I mean, it can get worse than 1-4, but not much. The next four games look like 1-3, +/- one win. 1-8 with potential a better future looks better to me than 3-6 with more of the same on the horizon.

63
by Matin (not verified) :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 7:46pm

Some of you guys are way to married to these stats. You expect to be able to quantify so simply all of the complex interactions between teams and the multitude of dimensions of the results.

Watch the games. Chad has been terrible this year and this with defenses challenging him to beat them. Improve the QB play and everything else will perform better.

I don't know if Clemens is the answer or not, but I know Chad isn't.

64
by Sean McCormick :: Tue, 10/09/2007 - 9:24pm

First off, it's highly unlikely that improving the quarterback play will do much to save the Jets season, unless it is accompanied by a radical turnaround by the defense (not impossible, as the personnel isn't awful and they are pretty healthy, but still unlikely). If you look at the drive charts, you realize that the team could strap the Indianapolis offense to that defense and wouldn't end up any better than 8-8, because their defense is turning everyone into the Colts offense.

Since 2001, the Jets have had the same basic dynamic as a team. The offense consistently puts up good drives that eat up yards but don't necessarily result in scores because they almost always have to cover a long field. Those drives allow the team to pin the opposing team deep and give the defense a long field to defend. The defense then lets an offense march on them, hopefully gets a stop soon enough to force the team to punt, and the process is repeated. If you look at the drive charts, you'll see that this is basically still what's happening- the Jets offense is 7th in yards per drive. They're also actually doing well at converting their drives into points. The problem is that the defense is far worse than it's ever been, so it not only bends, it breaks, surrendering over 2 points per drive (and these are long drives that limit offensive possessions). The special teams aren't as good, Leon Washington not withstanding, which also contributes to the Jets starting their drives on the 28 yard line. And the other big change is that the team has to put together those drives exclusively from the air because they're getting nothing from the ground game. That puts an extraordinary amount of stress on Pennington. He is able to move the team, as evidenced by his DVOA and completion percentage, but as the attempts mount, the liklihood of a mistake gets higher and higher, and you see things like his three INT performance last week.

65
by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 12:24am

I think we need to be clear about what problem we're talking about when we say "Chad Pennington is (part of) the problem with the Jets." There are two main problems with the Jets:

1) They aren't competitive now.

2) They don't look like they'll be competitive next year, and beyond that, unless they make some major changes.

Problem 1) is all defense. If their defense were merely average, they'd be competitive now. As it is, their offense could be in the top 5 and they'd still be a below average team.

Pennington might have something to do with problem 2), but even if he does, benching him this year doesn't help any.

If they want to switch to Clemens next year, hopefully after overhauling their defense, they can still do that even if Clemens doesn't play at all for the rest of this year. Carson Palmer sat his entire rookie season, and he did fine in his second year. Getting Clemens some snaps in garbage time should be plenty, and god knows they'll have enough garbage time this year with the way their defense has been playing.

66
by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 1:39am

#65: The other big problem with benching Pennington is that it's entirely possible to build a winning team around him. He's not Rex Grossman, or Tommy Maddox - he has limitations, but they're not enough to make the offense bad. They're just enough to keep the offense from being very good.

If Clemens ends up sucking, tossing Pennington might hurt the team in the long run. It's not easy to find an average QB in the NFL. The Jets have one. It's much, much safer for the Jets to focus on fixing their defense, because Pennington is good enough to win with a decent defense.

Jets fans clamoring for Clemens could end up seriously regretting that decision. Rule #1 in the NFL is "Never let an above-average QB go unless you're positive what you have is better. And even then, think twice."

67
by DGL (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 2:01am

Leave Chad as the QB.

But please, by all that is holy, expunge from the playbook every 10+ yard out.

68
by Alex (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 3:22am

Leave Chad as the QB.

But please, by all that is holy, expunge from the playbook every 10+ yard out.

Even better, why not just have Brad Smith throw all the deep outs? He was a QB in college, I'm sure he could put more zip on the ball than Pennington. And while he'd throw the occasional interception, it couldn't be much worse than what happens when Pennington is asked to make those throws. You could just line him up in the shotgun, direct snap it to him (or even hand it off to him), and have him throw the pass.

The Jets use Smith in the running game occasionally, so it wouldn't be too obvious. And Smith always did say he wanted to be a QB in the NFL, so I'm sure he'd jump at the chance to throw a few passes. There's your two QB system, folks.

69
by Led (not verified) :: Wed, 10/10/2007 - 11:06am

I generally agree with Sean, Pat, et al., that Pennington is still basically above average QB whose limitations are highlighted by the team's other significant flaws. And he is almost certainly going to be more effective than Clemens would be this year. But if the team wants to be competive in the future it needs a viable QB. Pennington might be a viable QB in 2008. He'll be Brad Johnson, at best, by 2009 and out of the league in 2010. Clemens might be a viable QB in 2008 and many years after. The only way to know if Clemens is the goods (or even make an educated guess) is to play him. So as much as I like and admire Pennington and think that he's one of the most underappreciated athletes in NY sports history (which is saying something), it's time to give Clemens a chance.

70
by I love Vinny! (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 11:27am

I am always quick to defend Pennington, and I realize the Jets have many issues, other than their QB play. However, I look at the scores of their games, and I see that the Jets defense has typically held their opponents to around 30 points, or less most games. So it seems like if the offense could consistently put up 30 points, they would have won these games. So now I'm thinking maybe I have been too hard on their defense, and maybe I should be more critical of the QB.

71
by Alex (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 12:02pm

So it seems like if the offense could consistently put up 30 points, they would have won these games.

You are joking, right? I mean, there's no way you're being serious. Is there? The only team to average 30+ points a game last year was the Chargers. And the Jets defense lets opponents run and pass all over them, which limits the number of possessions for the offense, so even if they were as good as the 2006 Chargers offense, they'd still probably average fewer than 30 points a game.

So, thanks for putting that hilarious joke in there to lighten up the mood.

72
by Jets fan (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 2:57pm

In the 5 games the Jets played, they won one of them, and in 2 other games the opposition didn't score 20 points. So if the Jets would have put up just 20 points, they would be 3 and 2, instead of 1 and 4.
I can't blame the defense for the Jets' inability to put up 20 points. So I guess Pennington does deserve a little of the criticism.

73
by jetsgrumbler (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 4:07pm

Chad's completion percentage is largely a factor of tough receivers. (IMO.) Not many WR's around the league would be willing to stand around waiting for the floaters to land while the DB's and LB's line them up in their sights the way Coles and Cotchery do. I am very sure that Chad will shorten Coles' career. He often gets laid out after waiting for the floaters and has a dazed look in his eyes after the play. I think Chad's weak arm contributed to Wayne Chrebet's concussion problem, though I haven't looked at the numbers to compare his concussions when playing with Vinny as opposed to Chad.

74
by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 5:34pm

I can’t blame the defense for the Jets’ inability to put up 20 points.

You should. The Jets starting field position has been near the bottom in the league.

Points scored isn't offense.
Points allowed isn't defense.

75
by DGL (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 10:12pm

#73:

Chrebet is reported to have suffered six concussions while with the Jets. (He is thought to have suffered two more while in college, but considering he went to Hofstra and Pennington went to Marshall, I don't think those were Chad's fault.)

10/14/2001 against Miami: Testaverde QB.

10/21/2001 against St. Louis: Testaverde QB. (Pennington played, but according to the gamebook, had no pass attempts to Chrebet; Chrebet caught one pass earlier in the game from Vinnie.)

10/12/03 against Buffalo: Testaverde QB.

11/2/03 against the NY Giants: Pennington QB

1/2/05 against St. Louis: Pennington QB

11/6/05 against Buffalo: Bollinger QB.

So that's two with Pennington passing, three with Testaverde passing, and one with Bollinger passing. And two with whoever was the QB at Hofstra. Doesn't sound to me like there's a correlation, let alone causation.

76
by Alex (not verified) :: Thu, 10/11/2007 - 10:51pm

In the 5 games the Jets played, they won one of them, and in 2 other games the opposition didn’t score 20 points.

You mean, in one other game the opposition didn't score 20 points. The only team that was held under 20 points was Buffalo. And in the Baltimore game, where the Jets only gave up 20 points, but lost because they only scored 13? Chad Pennington didn't play in that game, so you can't blame him for the low score.

In order to give the Jets a winning record right now, Pennington (and the offense he led) would've had to put up 30+ points in at least two of his 4 games. No team can consistently put up that many points in half their games, not even the Colts.

Jets fans aren't asking Pennington to be Peyton Manning, they're asking him to be better than Peyton Manning!