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News » Miami Dolphins Inside Slant 2009-03-20

Miami Dolphins Inside Slant 2009-03-20

Miami Dolphins Inside Slant 2009-03-20
Despite earning NFL Comeback of the Year honors, finishing in a tie for second in MVP voting and directing an amazing 10-win turnaround, Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington is probably hearing radio sports talk callers beseeching Miami's brain trust to trade for estranged Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler.

Did they watch Pennington outplay Cutler in Miami's 26-17 road victory over Denver last year? Cutler did throw for 307 yards and two touchdowns, but he also had three interceptions, including a fourth-quarter pick by safety Rodney Culver.

Pennington completed 23-of-40 passes for 281 yards. He didn't throw a touchdown, and was intercepted once, but he directed a game-winning, 80-yard, touchdown drive that lasted over eight minutes.

Sure Cutler is 25 and already a two-year starter (played just five games his rookie season) while Pennington is going on 33 and injury prone. Sure, Cutler is coming off his first Pro Bowl season in which he threw for 4,526 yards with an 86 passer rating. And sure he's 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, the prototypical size that Dolphins vice president of football operations Bill Parcells dreams about for his quarterbacks.

However, Cutler, who bravely battles diabetes, is 17-20 as a starter and hasn't taken to the Broncos to the playoffs.

And is Cutler the game manager that Pennington is? Does he have the potential or arm strength that Pennington's heir apparent, Chad Henne, has?

Maybe, although those are questions that can't be answered for a few years. But vital traits that Cutler seems to lack, character traits that Parcells insists upon, are unselfishness and leadership.

In Parcells' world it's the coach's way or the highway and where do you think Denver's rookie head coach Josh McDaniels learned that from? Bill Belichick, a Parcells' protege, shoves the team concept down his players' throats, and Cutler's whiny response to his new coach dangling him in a trade for Matt Cassel, reeks of immaturity and a 'woe is me' attitude.

Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said that if Pennington didn't fall into his lap after the Jets signed Brett Favre, that he was ready to start the season with the rookie over veteran Josh McCown and John Beck.

"If he was in the (starter) situation I would have been comfortable with him there," Sparano said. "Look at the two young quarterbacks (Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco) that had to play this year and they did a nice job. We're fortunate that we had Chad Pennington and we didn't have to do that right away.

"I think the valuable lesson that Chad Henne learned this year, I don't think you can put a dollar value on it in what he learned this year from Chad Pennington. I've been around a lot of these veteran quarterbacks with a young guy looking up to him, and there is no better. From Chad Pennington's standpoint, the kind of teacher he is for those young guys it's tremendous."

Pennington's contract is up this year and while it's possible his agent will ask for an extension, it's no secret that unless the former Jet quarterback leads Miami to at least one playoff victory, Henne will be under center in 2010.

Parcells hates giving up draft picks, and he loves bargain shopping, two more reasons why Cutler's only trip to Miami will be as a tourist on South Beach.

But it wouldn't be a shock to see Cutler at Dolphin Stadium next year - as a member of the Jets.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 20, 2009

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Kelvin Smith Name: Kelvin Smith
Position: LB
Age: 24
Experience: 1 years
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