When Jets head coach Eric Mangini was asked Tuesday whether Pennington’s success with the Dolphins surprised him, Mangini pointed toward the past.

“The things that he is doing are things that he has done throughout the course of his career. He’s running the offense very effectively. He’s taking advantage of weaknesses in the defense. He’s an incredibly smart guy. He’s very detail-oriented and you see that in his play. He [makes] a lot of good decisions and that’s consistent with how he was here,” Mangini said.

Back in August when Pennington was jettisoned out of New York and soon donned the teal and orange, Pennington’s presence was sure to improve a beleagured Dolphins franchise. Then again, unless the Dolphins again turned into this season’s version of the Detroit Lions, improvement was not hard to come by after going 1-15 in 2007. But just four months after Pennington joined the Dolphins, the nine-year veteran is orchestrating a career season and has his team on the brink of an improbable turnaround.

The debate over whether the Jets should have retained Pennington rather than trade for Brett Favre will be saved for after this week’s matchup at the Meadowlands. Watching Pennington possibly walk off with a division title will be a tough pill to swallow for Jets fans, especially with the former Jet performing like a league MVP.

Pennington’s two finest seasons as a Jet came in 2002 and 2006, but his performance this season has been the most impressive considering the personnel around him. While he ranks second in the league with a 96.4 quarterback rating (Philip Rivers , 104) there’s one statistic that shines brightest…10-5 record.

Here’s how Pennington’s 2008 statistics among his career numbers…

Completions: 299 (313 in 2006)

Attempts: 446 (485 in 2006)

Yards: 3,453 (Career-high)

Completion %: 67 percent (68.9 in 2002, 68.8 in 2006)

Yards/Attempt: 7.74 (7.8 in 2002)

Touchdown Passes: 17 (22 in 2002, 17 in 2006)

Interceptions: 7 (6 in 2002)

*Only threw three interceptions in 2005 but played in only three games

Quarterback Rating: 96.4 (104.2 in 2002)
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