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With all the talk of Brett Favre this and Brett Favre that, the Dolphins sneaky-quick acquisition of Chad Pennington went relatively unnoticed. Can’t you just picture Bill Parcells shaking his head in disbelief that Pennington was basically placed in the teams lap? I sure can.
Now I’m not saying Chad Pennington is going to have some type of comeback year for the ages or anything, but I am saying he’s a perfectly capable QB that was the answer to the receiving corps prayers. Think about it. One of the following QB’s was currently slated to be slinging balls for the offense, and likely to the wrong team. Complete with career stats:
Josh McCown: 609 for 1052 (57.9%), 6582 yards, 35 TD’s, 40 INT’s. He is entering his seventh NFL season.
John Beck: 60 for 107 (56.1%), 559 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT’s. He is entering his second NFL season.
Chad Henne: Has not yet started an NFL game and would have to go through the necessary growing pains expected of rookie QB’s.
Could one of those players ended up having a good 2008? Absolutely. Would you want to put any type of money on that? I doubt it. Now, let’s take a look at the QB the world forgot about, Chad Pennington:
Chad Pennington: 1259 for 1919 (65.6%), 13738 yards, 82 TD’s, 55 INT’s. He is entering his ninth NFL season.
Uh, yeah. I’ll take Pennington, thanks.
Anyway, with that obvious but necessary piece out of the way, let’s take a look at Jerricho Cotchery’s stats the year he played a bit part on offense and wasn’t on the field too much.
(2005): 19 receptions, 251 yards, 0 TD’s (12 games played, 1 game started)
Now, we know that Pennington was on the team in 2005, but Cotchery wasn’t given enough playing time to benefit from that. He was also still learning the intricacies of the WR position, with it being only his second year in the league and his first with some good, solid playing time. Let’s take a look at Ted Ginn Juniors stats in his first year in the league:
Ted Ginn Jr.
(2007): 34 receptions, 420 yards, 2 TD’s (16 games played, 9 games started)
It’s easy to see that Ginn had much more of a role in his rookie year than Cotchery had in his first two years in the NFL combined. Because of this, Ginn is likely well-entrenched in the verses of the WR position. Now let’s take a look at Cotchery’s first year with a starting role in the offense, one that formally introduced him to Chad Pennington.
(2006): 82 receptions, 961 yards, 6 TD’s (16 games started)
Not bad. A lot of that can be attributed to Cotchery’s talent but couldn’t some of it also be placed on Pennington? Cotchery was targeted 125 times in 2006 and the ball managed to find itself safely in his hands 82 of those times. Pennington may be knocked for his lack of any kind of powerful arm, but the man is accurate. He’s completed nearly two thirds of his throws his entire career. All in all, I think it’s safe to assume that he’s a quality QB.
With Cotchery barely able to build a rapport with Pennington in 2005 due to the small amount of playing time, the two essentially built a connection throughout the 2006 season itself. Cotchery was also the second option for Pennington, with Laveranues Coles easily claiming the title of both WR1 and the QB’s favorite receiver.
Jumping back to the present, Ginn is the clear cut WR1 on a Dolphins offense that’s looking to begin moving forward after some serious off-season patch-up work. What does that mean? It means that Ginn will likely benefit from not only more targets (he had 71 last year), but also from a competent QB who can consistently throw the ball in his general vicinity.
Is it that much of a stretch to think that Ginn could put up similar numbers to what Cotchery churned out in 2006? No. It’s definitely not. The stretch would lie in how much better you think Ginn could do. Cotchery was targeted 125 times as the WR2 but also benefited from having a superb receiver lining up opposite of him in Laveranues Coles. Ginn saw 71 targets last year as a rookie and it was a year in which he didn’t get much playing time until Chris Chambers left before Week 7.
I would say that 125 targets for Ginn is a basement estimate. With reports that Ronnie Brown may have to start the season at a snails pace thanks to his finger injury, the Dolphins are sure to lean on Pennington until Brown returns. No offense to Ricky Williams since I’m sure he’ll contribute somewhat, but I want to see how he looks during an actual game that means something. The guy is 31 years old and not counting last years disappointing six attempt season, hasn’t played a substantial amount of time in the NFL in what’s now approaching three years. If thinking the Dolphins are going to pass a lot makes me crazy then so be it. I don’t want to be sane.
In the interests of being realistic and not allowing the predictions to get out of hand, I say it’s safe to pencil in Ginn for at least 130 targets. Please note the ‘at least’ part of that statement. Out of the 130 balls thrown to him, say 10 get called back by penalties or are nullified for whatever reason. Chad Pennington’s career completion percentage is 65.6% but we’ll give age and a change in living situation the benefit of the doubt here and say he’ll complete 60% of his passes this year. That’s probably the bare minimum. Add in a quick entrance from our friend the calculator and that leaves us with the following projection:
Ted Ginn Jr: 130 targets, 72 receptions, 900 yards, 6 TD’s
And that is being GENEROUS with the negative outside factors. Barring some type of major injuries to Ginn himself, Pennington or the offensive line, that stat line could very easily be achieved by Ginn unless he’s managed to lose his football talent somehow during the off-season.