Jets' struggling Pennington says this is toughest stretch of his career Print
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Wednesday, 17 October 2007 22:16
NFL Headline News

 HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -Chad Pennington has dealt with lofty expectations, critics and career-threatening shoulder injuries during his eight seasons with the New York Jets.
The last three weeks have been tougher than all of that for the struggling quarterback.
``I would say so because of the losses,'' Pennington said Wednesday. ``Anytime you experience a losing streak, it's very difficult. I think as a quarterback, you take it personally. I know that I take it really personally and want to do everything I can to get it fixed.''
Pennington is in the midst of perhaps the worst stretch of his professional career. The normally efficient quarterback is making mistakes that have cost the Jets games and he's failing to make big plays.
``It's one of those things where you don't ever go into the season thinking you'll have to go through one of these stretches,'' he said. ``But when you do, it's how you react, how you think, how you respond that's most important.''
With the Jets sitting at 1-5, many fans and members of the media believe the appropriate response is to bench Pennington and go with second-year quarterback Kellen Clemens. The suggestion that the strong-armed Clemens could give the Jets a much-needed boost is intriguing to many people. They're also the same who think Pennington is done as a No. 1 quarterback, the result of two rotator cuff operations catching up to an already suspect throwing arm.
``As a quarterback, a lot of times the result of the football game is what you're determined by, so when you've experienced a few losses, no matter what your performance is, you get judged by that,'' Pennington said. ``I understand that. I just really focus on myself right now and see what I can do to help us win, to get better, to create a spark and create some energy because that's what we need.''
Coach Eric Mangini has continued to back Pennington as his starting quarterback despite a three-game stretch that might get others benched.
``It's always important that you have a good relationship with your head coach and that you keep the communication lines open,'' Pennington said. ``Eric's done that, kept the communication lines open and has been very honest about what he expects from me as a quarterback. I'm confident in that. As far as the fans, they just want to see wins. They want to see our team win and you can't fault them for that. We all want to win extremely badly.''
Pennington's 68.3 overall completion percentage still has him among the NFL leaders, and his 65.4 career completion percentage is second in NFL history to Kurt Warner's 65.5. That statistic has taken a hit recently, as Pennington has thrown six interceptions and two touchdowns in his last three games, all losses.
``You have to deal in the present,'' he said. ``You have to understand that what just happened is in the past and you can't control it anymore. No matter what you do, no matter how hard you think about it, how long you dwell on it, it's not going to change. The present is the only thing that's important. That's how I deal with it. I try to stay in the present and deal with the present and look toward the next opportunity.''
The problem is, the opportunities could be fading with each poor performance.
``At this point in time, after three losses, we all know that the talk's over with,'' he said. ``There's no more just talking about it, we've got to be about it, go out and produce a win. That's most important. When you produce a win, then you can generate some positive feeling and some energy and things like that.''
Pennington will have another chance to get things right Sunday at Cincinnati, where he made his first opening-day start in a 31-24 victory in 2004.
``It's similar to boxing,'' he said. ``It's a 16 round fight for us and you have to concentrate on each round. The only way that you get things turned around is to focus on the next game. You can't focus on the last six. They're not going to do anything for you but make you miserable and upset. The only way you can get things turned around is to focus on the next opportunity and see what you can do to make it work.''

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