Long before his release from the Jets this past August, Chad Pennington had a gut feeling he no longer was wanted by the team.
"Regardless of who was brought in to replace me or whether it was a quarterback from within the organization, I had those feelings way before this year's training camp," Pennington said yesterday on a conference call with a handful of reporters, mostly from the New York area.
"Those feelings started to come last year in the 2007 season. You just get a feel as an individual and a human being that they're looking to move in a different direction. I felt that ever since I was replaced [by Kellen Clemens] in the 2007 season, and it was a culmination of it."
A day after the Jets traded for Brett Favre on Aug. 6, they released Pennington. He wound up being signed by the Dolphins and led Miami -- which was 1-15 in 2007 -- to an 11-5 record, beating Favre and the Jets in the final regular-season game to clinch the AFC East title. The Jets (9-7) did not make the playoffs.
When the Favre trade was made, Pennington said he was told by Eric Mangini that the Jets made the deal to get a quarterback with a stronger arm.
"I asked Coach why they wanted to let me go and he said he feels like Brett gives us the opportunity to push the ball down the field more and give us more down-the-field opportunities," Pennington said. "I didn't feel like arguing at the time or pleading my case. I felt like when the situation happened, my time in New York was over."
Pennington said there were never any feelings of "I told you so" after beating the Jets on the way to the division title.
"I've been on successful teams in New York, and people know that when I'm healthy, I can play this position and that my teams have been successful and won divisional titles and won playoff games," he said.
"To me, the situation boiled down to who coach Mangini wanted to lead his team. One thing that he knew is that he didn't want Chad Pennington to lead his team ... I truly believe that they felt like my years were a good eight years, but it was time to move on. That was a business decision they had to make and feel comfortable with."
Pennington said he didn't take it as a sign of disrespect that he was released. On the contrary.
"I was grateful that they allowed me to be a free agent," he said. "I don't think a lot of organizations would do that for a player."
After Pennington outplayed the quarterback brought in to replace him, the Dolphins lost in the wild-card round to the Ravens, as he threw four interceptions in an admittedly lousy performance. Was he confused by the Ravens' defense?
"There's nothing confusing about Ed Reed being a good player," Pennington said of the safety, who made two interceptions and returned one for a touchdown. "They are very versatile. They are not one-dimensional. Every one of those guys are involved in every facet of [coordinator Rex Ryan's] defense. With other schemes you can pinpoint who is going to rush the passer or who is going to cover the pass."
The loss didn't douse Pennington's enthusiasm about the Dolphins' overall success.
"I really enjoyed this year," he said. "I couldn't ask for a better situation. I had a lot of fun helping change a culture and trying to help an organization get back on track. To be able to win a division championship was a lot of fun. I certainly didn't expect things to end the way they did, but all things considered, I enjoyed this season a lot."