Back To The Drawing Board
By James J. Parziale
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
September 12th, 2005
It’s because the Jets $64-million signal-caller can add another hindrance to the growing factors pilling up in front of him. The day after one of the worst performances of his career, Pennington admitted his ego was rattled.
“It’s like we have a third-degree concussion to our pride right now,” said Pennington about his and C Kevin Mawae’s mental state.
Pennington shouldn’t fret, because after a 27-7 bludgeoning at the hands of the Chiefs, all Jets fans feel a little woozy.
“It was one of those games where we were always fighting uphill,” head coach Herman Edwards said. “It just kept piling up. We never made a play to make something good happen.”
Pennington’s horrid performance was at the epicenter of it all. He fumbled six times, losing two. Twice he fumbled in the shotgun, which was supposed to be the cure-all for a ho-hum Jets offense. Three of the loose balls came after he got sacked trying to avoid an at-times overwhelming Chiefs pass rush.
In all, Pennington did not look ready for the opening day. His shoulder surgery in February led him to miss a good portion of off-season workouts, which led him to miss a good number of snaps in training camp. He’s been playing catch-up ever since, and it all unraveled yesterday. Pennington tried to put a happy face around the aftermath today at Hofstra.
“It’s not about rust, it’s about executing,” Pennington said. “I got plenty of reps in the preseason. We’re still trying to get on the same page and communicate well.’
Pennington played in two preseason games, looking sharp against the Vikings and terrible against the Giants. In the loss to the Giants, Pennington was 5 of 11 for 36 yards and threw two red zone interceptions. He looked stale then, and he looked lost yesterday, whether he wanted to admit it or not.
The shotgun formation, a staple of first-year coordinator Mike Heimerdinger’s offense, was botched on two occasions. It’s something Pennington last week said he isn’t quite comfortable with yet because it forces him to read the defense while waiting for the snap.
Today Pennington changed his tune, explaining he feels up to snuff in the formation and it just needs to be perfected because it takes pressure off the offensive line. The snaps weren’t rushed in anticipation of the stingy Chiefs defense, according to Pennington.
“We know how to handle pressure,” he said. “Kevin and I have to make sure that doesn’t happen. It’s never happened before…That’s what’s frustrating for both of us.”
Said Edwards: “We’re going to keep doing it. We’re not going to change because of one game.”
Learning a new offense takes time and repetition, something the Jets had to little of before the season with Pennington under center. He said he expects his season to be a progression, an ascent to better play. But if the Chiefs defense can slap the Jets around, imagine what the Dolphins, Jaguars, Ravens and Buccaneers will do if Pennington is still jittery.
Still, Pennington said the outcome was decided largely by the way the Jets executed, not so much how the Chiefs performed.
“I’d like to sit here and say they flat out beat us, but I can’t,” Pennington said. “We definitely put them in positions to win the game.”
Pennington was encouraged by today’s practice and explained it started the slow recovery process of regaining his swagger.
“That gives you more confidence in what you’re doing and [helps] correct the mistakes you made,” he said.
Edwards surmised his team’s post-mortem succinctly, saying, “We’ve got six days. We’ll be ready by then.”
Abe’s newer number. John Abraham said he was slightly taken aback when he watched game film today. No it wasn’t because of how poorly the Jets played, but because he wasn’t used to seeing himself with the No. 56. He was even more shocked when he realized he was on the field for 34 plays yesterday.
“I was surprised I played that many,” said Abraham, who had a sack and multiple QB pressures yesterday.
Because the Chiefs began throwing more on first and second down, Abraham saw more game action, but he said a marginal increase in the number of snaps he gets this week isn’t likely.
-Of the 39 teams to win the Super Bowl prior to this season, 32 won their opening game.
The only injury suffered yesterday was by DE Trevor Johnson who sustained a concussion. He’s day to day.
The team has tomorrow off then returns to practice on Wednesday to prepare for their home opener against Miami. Be sure to check back to Jets Insider.com for all the latest news.