November 1, 2014

Can Carson Palmer be fixed?

For several weeks now I have defended the quarterback of the Bengals Carson Palmer. I have used excuses of getting timing down with new receivers, bad o line protection and facing great defenses. After yesterdays performance I am wondering if maybe number 9 just doesn’t have it anymore.

Week one the Bengals faced a great defense and Carson struggled. He ended with what looked like good numbers, but they were mostly from playing catch-up on a defense that was playing soft. In the end, Carson did not make the plays when the game mattered and the Bengals lost. This loss in no way was the fault of Carson alone.  The defense failed to show and the Patriots beat the Bengals in every aspect of the game.

Week two the Bengals face another really good defense and again, Carson struggles. He did not match his counterpart on the Ravens Joe Flacco’s 4 interceptions, but there were plenty of off throws and interceptions that the Ravens defense failed to hold on to.  Again, I was happy with the win and down played the performance of Carson.

Week three the Bengals faced an all around terrible football team.  Possibly the worst in the NFL and again Carson struggled. Yes, the weather was bad. However, the things that the weather doesn’t affect (like decision making at the line or in the game) continued to plague the quarterback. For example:

 - Delay of game. Carson is good for a delay of game penalty and a couple wasted timeouts to avoid this penalty every game. In every NFL stadium there is a giant play clock in the end zone and for some reason Carson fails to notice it. Many times this bites the Bengals it is when there is a change or audible at the line and Carson does not seem to be able to remember to look at the giant digital numbers ticking off in the end zone. You would think after this much time in the league he would remember to glance up there every once in a while.

 - The decision at the end of the first half of the Panthers game was terrible. In a situation where the clock is winding down and quick decisions have to be made, Carson needs to take control and make those decisions. You have to stop the clock or take chances in the end zone instead of throwing for a meaningless 4 yds and then fail to get back to the line of scrimmage.

 - 195 yds, 1 td and 2 interceptions against a terrible defense. This does not include the 4 other interceptions dropped by the Panthers D. Does anyone think the Steelers defense is going to waste opportunities like this?

 - Carson’s quotes in response to the game: “I missed a couple of passes that were just a little off,” said Palmer, “It’s just something that we’re going to keep working on.”  There is missing a couple passes and there is continuing to hit the back shoulder of the receiver when the defender is behind the play. Throwing the ball into double coverage because that is the route the play was designed for. Never looking off your primary target allowing the defense to position itself to make a play on your poorly thrown ball.

These are things that rookie quarterbacks do and we talk about them needing to mature. How do you regress in your career to the point Carson is right now and how can you reverse the trend?

The most telling to me is the passer ratings Carson has put up in the last three games. 92.5 against the Patriots, 60.1 against the ravens to 53.3 against the Panthers.  What can we expect next week against the Browns 22.7?

Being 2 and 1 proves that the Bengals do not need for Carson to be Peyton Manning. However, there are going to be times when the Bengals need number 9 to win the game, or at least not give it away, and right now I don’t know many fans that are confident in his ability to carry the team. The problems could stem from the offensive line, it could be play calling (we all know how this site feels about Bob Bratkowski) or it could be Carson.  I tend to think it is a combination of all 3. The change has to start with Carson though. He needs to start making the plays in the game that he is missing right now. They may not be the right plays, but if he makes the throws instead of missing them, then at least fans can redirect their anger where it probably belongs the most, at the idiot Bob Bratkowski.

Lastly, before you comment that it is time to see what Jordan or Dan have to offer I say, step back and chill.  The answer is not one of the Bengals backup quarterbacks, the answer for this season is Carson. He just needs to realize he is the problem before it is too late.