Cincinnati Bengals: Carson Palmer Gives Pittsburgh Steelers an Early X-Mas Gift

Dexter RogersCorrespondent IDecember 14, 2010

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 12:  Carson Palmer #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals drops back to pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game on December 12, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals have lost 10 straight games.  The primary reason why the Bengals are struggling lies directly on the shoulders of quarterback Carson Palmer.

The Bengals, particularly Palmer, seemed to be in a festive mood on Sunday as they managed to hand the Pittsburgh Steelers a 23-7 victory by consistently turning the ball over by courtesy of Palmer’s less-than-stellar play.

Let’s be real, Palmer has stunk this year.  He is throwing costly interceptions like it is going out of style.  On Sunday Palmer completed 20-of-32 passes for 178 yards for one touchdown and three interceptions.  Two of his interceptions were returned for touchdowns.

Typically when things go south with an organization, we have been conditioned to first look at the coach.  The coach is responsible for putting players on the field who give them the best chance to win. 

There are rumblings Marvin Lewis may be on his last legs in Cincinnati.  When a team sports 2-10 record, it is logical to consider a coaching change.  

Personally I have no issues with Lewis and his coaching: The Bengals stink this year because of Carson Palmer’s quarterbacking.

On a team that features flamboyant players like Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, it is very interesting the media has yet to indict them.  Usually when there is turmoil on a team Owens plays for, he becomes an easy target for ridicule.

Not this time.

Owens has had a nice statistical year.  He has caught 72 passes for 983 yards and nine touchdowns.  Not bad for a player nobody really wanted going into this season, huh?

Ochocinco has posted rather pedestrian numbers.  He has amassed 67 receptions for 795 yards and four touchdowns. 

More importantly than statistics, he has not been a detriment to the team in any fashion.  He just wants more balls thrown his way.

If you look closely at Palmer’s career, he has not lived up to the billing of being a franchise quarterback. 

Has the time come for the Bengals to get rid of the pick-six machine and go another direction?

Last season, the Bengals were 6-0 within the division.  The defense played solid, and Cedric Benson had a career year rushing the football. 

With emergence of Jermaine Grisham at tight end, drafting Jordan Shipley and signing Owens, fans expected to pick up where they left off from last year.

Not so fast, my friend.

This year's team has gone south, and Palmer is the main reason why.

Sports Illustrated columnist Peter King has suggested Palmer would be better off in a San Francisco 49ers uniform.

I don’t know exactly what team Palmer would be a good fit for, but in my opinion, he has worn out his welcome in Cincinnati with his erratic play. 

I have long been an advocate of placing the blame squarely where it belongs.  If a player is not performing, cut the player.  If the coach loses the team, get rid of the coach.  It’s that simple.

Despite the Palmer’s horrific play this season, I get the feeling the blame will be misplaced.  Once the chants for change grow louder from Bengals fans, by way of the media, they will clamor for Lewis to be fired instead of Palmer to be traded.

I look at other quarterbacks and how they get treated around the league, and yet Palmer has escaped scrutiny.

A perennial Pro-Bowl quarterback in Donovan McNabb gets benched in favor of Rex Grossman earlier this year.  Head coach Mike Shanahan suggested McNabb cannot run the two-minute offense and does not have the cardiovascular endurance to complete it.

Then there is Oakland Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell.  The Raiders traded for Campbell to be their franchise quarterback—and instead he is being treated like an Arena League scrub.  Head coach Tom Cable has twice benched Campbell in favor of journeyman Bruce Gratkowski.

Brett Favre perhaps is the worse quarterback in the NFL this year.  For as great as he played last year as a 40-year-old quarterback, he has been substantially worse as a 41-year-old. 

Despite Favre’s horrific play, he continues to get the benefit of the doubt because he is "the Old Gunslinger."  Favre gets a pass from the media on Jenn Sterger and his terrible play because he is a made man in the media. 

In the Bengals case, it has become crystal clear Palmer is neither the quarterback of the future nor a franchise quarterback.  His play indicates he is allergic to throwing touchdowns. 

Like Favre, Palmer’s play has cost the Bengal’s very winnable games.  Sunday’s contest was a strong indicator of my assertion.  Why has it taken the media one game to finally see what has been apparent for 10?

Why hasn’t the media consistently questioned Palmer’s play the way it has pressured McNabb’s?

Different strokes for different folks perhaps.

When the season is over and the Bengals organization seeks to make changes, don’t blame T.O., Ochocinco or the head coach: Put the blame squarely on the shoulders where it belongs.

That’s quarterback Carson Palmer.


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