Palmer has all the tools a great quarterback needs to succeed in the NFL. He is big, strong, and smart. He put up great numbers in 2005 and 2006, but in 2007 he threw 20 interceptions and the Bengals went 7-9. In his career as a starter, he has only two playoff appearances and no playoff wins.
This isn't all Palmer's fault, obviously. He did manage to win two division titles and the Bengals have made the playoffs. For long-suffering Bengal fans, that is a lot. However, as the Bengals' quarterback, he should carry most of the blame.
The following is a recap of Palmer's career and the excuses of Bengals fans for why he has yet to win a playoff game.
Carson Palmer did not get on the field during his rookie season. He watched Jon Kitna take all the snaps. Kitna and quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese mentored Palmer as he watched and learned during games and in practices.
None needed as this was Palmer's "redshirt" year.
Carson Palmer started 13 games. The Bengals finished with an 8-8 record.
60.9 Completion Percentage
6-7 Quarterback record
The fans blamed Marvin Lewis. This was Palmer's first season playing. He could not be expected to get the Bengals to the playoffs at this point, especially when their defense was 19th in the league in yards allowed and 21st in points allowed.
Palmer led the Cincinnati Bengals to their first winning season since 1990, finishing at the top of their division with an 11-5 record. Statistically, Carson Palmer had a great season. He threw for a league-high 32 touchdown passes and also led the league in completion percentage. His quarterback rating was over 100. Palmer made his first Pro Bowl. The Bengals lost in the first round after Palmer blew out his knee in his first series.
67.8 Completion Percentage
11-5 Quarterback record (including one meaningless late season loss)
Bad luck. In the first quarter, Kimo Von Oelhoffen fell on Palmer's knee awkwardly, and blew it out. The Bengals would have won this game with Palmer at the helm.
Despite his injury, Palmer passed for more than 4,035 yards and 28 touchdowns with only 13 interceptions and 93.9 rating. He also made the Pro Bowl for the second year in a row. Unfortunately, the Bengals had a few misfortunes, such as missed extra points and field goals. They ended up with a disappointing 8-8 record. The conduct of certain players was also a distraction, as this was the year that nine different Bengals players were either arrested or suspended for their actions off the playing field.
62.3 Completion Percentage
8-8 Quarterback record
Coming off major knee surgery, Palmer was going to have difficulty repeating his stellar 2005 season.
There were too many off-field distractions with all the arrests and suspensions.
The Bengals defense was 30th in the league in yards allowed and 26th against the run, allowing 3.7 yards per carry.
Marvin Lewis cost them the playoffs by wasting a timeout "freezing" Steeler's kicker Jeff Reed, only to have Shayne Graham miss a game-winning 39 yard field goal at the end of regulation.
This was Palmer's first losing season. He did throw his 100th career touchdown pass, becoming the 5th fastest player ever to reach this milestone (59 games).
64.9 Completion Percentage
7-9 Quarterback record
Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski was unimaginative enough that everyone in the stadium knew what play was coming. Because of this, defenses were able to shut down the Bengals running game which resulted in Palmer forcing throws to make up for the fact they couldn't move the ball on the ground. The Bengals were 24th in the league with 3.7 rushing yards per carry.
Once again, the Bengals defense was unable to stop anyone. They ranked 24th in points allowed and 27th in yards allowed, and were so undermanned at linebacker that against the Patriots, rookie safety Chinedum Ndukwe moved into the position.
Palmer suffered a partially torn ligament and tendon against the New York Giants. Instead of getting Tommy John surgery to repair the damage, he chose to let it heal by itself. The Bengals lost all four games that Palmer participated in. When he did play, his throws lacked both accuracy and velocity.
58.1 Completion Percentage
0-4 Quarterback record
T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Ochocinco missed much of training camp. Houshmandzadeh boycotted training camp for a contract and Ochocinco timed his ankle surgery so that his recovery ran into camp. Palmer never had a chance to get in sync with his top two targets.
The Bengals suffered from a weak offensive line. Carson Palmer was sacked 11 times in the four games he played in. Comparatively, he was sacked 17 times the entire 2007 season.
In part due to the offensive line, the running game continued to struggle. Starting running back Chris Perry was cut after Cedric Benson was signed.
With the emergence of Cedric Benson and a revitalized line, the team transformed into a power-running team in '09. Palmer's play and statistics were both solid. The Bengals preferred to keep the score close and let Palmer close it out in the end. Palmer had three fourth-quarter comebacks and five game-winning drives.
60.5 Completion Percentage
10-6 Quarterback record (including one meaningless late season loss)
Palmer was never comfortable with the power-running game. Letting T.J. Houshmandzadeh, his favorite option, go left him without a go-to guy on critical downs. The Bengals were sixth in the league in dropped passes. The Bengals just didn't have the offensive firepower to compete in the playoffs.
Palmer played with an injured left thumb during the season, making it nearly impossible for Palmer to effectively sell play-action fakes.
No more excuses:
Caron Palmer is healthy.
This is the best Bengals team since the Super Bowl team. The team has gotten stronger by releasing the disappointing Laveranues Coles. Palmer now has a talented tight end in Jermaine Gresham, and a big play threat he didn't have last season in Antonio Bryant.
Large parts of the team remain relatively unchanged from last season, allowing them to build on what they accomplished in 2009.
The offensive line has another year under their belts and Andre Smith will be a starter the whole season. He is a significant upgrade over Anthony Collins and Dennis Roland.
Cedric Benson should be stronger with a full year of experience within the Bengals offense.
The defense should improve upon their top-10 finish in 2009.
For more good stuff about the Bengals:
This article gives five reasons why the Bengals should sign JaMarcus Russell.
This article gives five reasons why the Bengals signed Adam "Pacman" Jones.
This article asks some questions about the Bengals draft.
This article wonders whether Marvin Lewis should be signed to an extension.
Don't cost nothin'.