Jump to content

Palmer: Good or great?


Recommended Posts

From the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Palmer: Good or great?


Between the utter irrelevance of exhibition game No. 4 and coach Marvin Lewis' refusal to reveal mundane state secrets - Torture me all you want, infidel, I'll never tell you who's starting at middle linebacker! - you'd need a team of CIA operatives and a windowless room to know for sure how the Bengals feel about themselves coming into the regular season.

Based on what we've seen, we'll give it a shot:

They go as Carson Palmer goes.

After two years of working behind a Pro Bowl-caliber line, throwing to Pro Bowl-caliber wideouts, handing to a Pro Bowl-caliber tailback and being pampered with Pro-Bowl caliber extras such as Chris Perry and Chris Henry, Palmer is much more the show. The talent cushion he enjoyed for two years just got thinner. Soft landings are the QB's job now.

If the Bengals are going to win, they're going to have to score. Scoring is going to be harder this year than the previous two. Enter Palmer. It's his team. It's his time.

For Palmer to fly in the same rare air as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady - he's already there, according to ESPN's Ron Jaworski - he has to elevate his team the way, say, John Elway lifted the late-'80s Broncos. That's not to say the Bengals' offense is as quarterback-centric as Elway's was - honk if you recall Sammy Winder - only that Palmer has the same opportunity to be to these Bengals what Elway was to those Broncos.

Until he won a Super Bowl, Elway mistakenly was seen as a reason Denver didn't get a title ring. In fact, he was the reason they even got the chance to play for one. It wasn't until the Broncos got him Terrell Davis and a defense that Elway won it all.

Palmer has Rudi Johnson, Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. But no Henry (suspended) - at least for the first eight games - to stretch the field and demand defensive back attention. And no Perry (injured) - likely not at the start of the season, anyway - coming out of the backfield to give the shakes to safeties and linebackers. Palmer's offensive line, which allowed 36 sacks last year and helped the running game rank 26th in the NFL, is "in flux" in the words of offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski.

Doesn't it sound as if Palmer - voted a team captain by his mates - has to hit an Elway-like stride?

"It's different as far as the weapons around him," Houshmandzadeh said. "Maybe the ball won't be as spread out as it would have been had Slim (Henry) or Chris Perry or even Kenny Irons been playing."

In other words, maybe T.J. and Chad will get more throws, even into the double coverage they'll see a lot if Tab Perry doesn't get rolling as the No. 3 wideout.

"You create ways they can't double you," Johnson said. "Look at Steve Smith," the Pro Bowl wideout at Carolina.

"Who were the two other wideouts with him?" I asked.

"What other two?" Johnson asked.

"That's your point," I said.

"Thank you," he said.

You're welcome, but ...

"The development of the third (receiver) is very important to Chad and T.J.," Bratkowski said. "When they are (double-covered), there are not that many route combinations where you can guarantee getting one of them open."

And when it's third-and-8 and both are smother-covered, is Tab Perry going to be there to make the tough catch across the middle? Who's there to turn a 3-yard dump-off into a first down?

It's up to Palmer now. His time. His team.

"Our expectations for him are higher," Bratkowski said. "But the rely-on goes to everybody. Everybody has to pick up the slack. (Palmer) will have to elevate his game, but he won't be able to unless he gets help from the other 10."

Good quarterbacks are only as good as the players around them. Great quarterbacks are a little more than that. Is Palmer a great quarterback? We'll find out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...