Posted by Adam Kaplan on Monday, February 7, 2011
After three posts of essentially saying the same thing (The QB, RB, and WR are good and everything else is crap) I can finally say something new. The Bungels (not a spelling error) quarterback sucks. I used to love Carson Palmer and who couldn't? His first four years in the league were really good. But then, on January 8th 2006, in a playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, defensive tackle Kimo von Oelhoffen tackled Palmer and tore up the quarterback's knee. Since that injury Palmer has not been the same player. It's a sad story to report upon, but I think Carson Palmer is done as a starter.
Now I will say there is some doubt in the back of my mind if he truly is done as a starter. In the Bengals last two games, games played without Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens (as well as in Week 15 a game played without T.O.) Palmer looked really good. Watching Palmer play throughout the 2010 season he just looked bad so I tend to think his games towards the end of the year were just outliers. However, there is some reason to believe that Palmer performed so well was because of the Eli Manning Effect. (In 2006, after Manning lost all of the "Me. Me. Me." pieces on his offense like Tiki Barber and Jeremy Shockey he had one of his best seasons ever and won a Superbowl).
However, I discount the Eli Manning Effect for many reasons: 1) Palmer looked amazing when he had Chad Ochocinco (then Johnson) before his injury so why would that dynamic and chemistry change if Palmer is fully over his injury? 2) I don't think Ochocinco is actually a "Me. Me. Me." guy- I think fans and the media confuse him for one because he's outspoken 3) Palmer to T.O. looked pretty darn good in 2010.
Like with the vast majority of struggling offenses, the problems can be traced back to the offensive line. In 2010, Cincinnati had great play out of their left tackle but below average play out of their other four lineman. Cedric Benson has proven to be a very good back and the team has Bernard Scott waiting in the wings so they're set at running back. An underlooked position (especially from me in these posts) have been the tight end position and the Bengals have a darn good and young one in Jermaine Gresham. I think Ochocinco has worn out his welcome in Cincy and there is no way T.O. stays for another year. However, the Bengals have good youngster and my boy Jordan Shipley for their possession guy and a halfway decent crop around him in Jerome Simpson and bug-eyed Andre Caldwell.
Now let's turn to the defense. Cornerback Jonathan Joseph is a free agent but if he stays, him and Leon Hall is one of the best cornerback tandems in the league. Cincy also drafted USC middle linebacker Ray Maualuaga to sure up the middle of their defense a few years back. However, for the past two years, Cincinnati has had below average run blocking and bad pass blocking efforts from their defensive line. When you run a 4-3 scheme (or really ANY scheme for that matter, but especially with the 4-3 base) and have bad play up front then it's hard to win games because you're not putting any pressure on the quarterback which in turn will allow the opposing quarterback to torch your defense.
According to Scouts Inc (and the three teams that have already "drafted") there are two top tiered talent left- wide receiver A.J. Green from Georgia and outside linebacker Von Miller from Texas A&M. Todd McShay has them both ranked as 97. However, just a notch below these players, ranked 96 is Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert and Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus.
Recently, Carson Palmer has made noise that he wants his team to trade him otherwise he'll retire, but the team refuses to because they think he's still their franchise quarterback. (And if the negotiations with Chad Ochocinco showed, the Bengals organization has no problem playing chicken with their players). I personally think Palmer is done and Cincy should trade him. There are plenty of teams (Arizona, Minnesota, Seattle, San Fransisco, Tennessee just to name a few) that would be more than willing to pay top dollar to get Palmer. Hell, Seattle gave up a first round pick for Deion Branch and Dallas gave up two first round picks for wide receiver Roy Williams. If I was Cincinnati's GM I would flip Palmer for draft picks, draft Gabbert, and use the extra picks to address the other, many needs my teams has.
However, I think Palmer stays and I think this team truly believes he is not done. If that's the case, then this team should draft A.J. Green. Green is 6'4" and looks like Calvin Johnson-lite. His height already puts him about a head taller than most cornerbacks and look how amazing Megatron has looked in Detroit. If Palmer truly is not done then a tandem of Green and Jordan Shipley could be the next Randy Moss/ Wes Welker (a la 2007 Patriots, not 2010 Patriots). Even if this organization does not trade Palmer, they should at least trade Ochocinco and let Palmer run his team they way he wants to.
- Defensive Lineman
The team has average to above talent behind the defensive line so an improved defensive line will make the entire defense better
If Palmer is truly back to being elite then he can throw it quickly to make up for an average line. But if Palmer is not, then a better line is needed to make up for his lack of mobility and accuracy (or to help any QB under center for the Bungels).