Why Jay Cutler Beat the Steelers, and Why Carson Palmer Won't

Nick SignorelliSenior Writer ISeptember 26, 2009

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 24:  Carson Palmer #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals is tackled during the NFL game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 24, 2006 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Bengals won the game 28-20.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

I have heard many conversations this week about the rising of the Cincinnati Bengals, and how they will overtake the Steelers this Sunday in Cincinnati.

Most of that talk centers around the Bengals new defense, and how if Jay Cutler can beat the Steelers with his arm, the surely Carson Palmer can do the same.

There is a distinct difference between Jay Cutler and Carson Palmer.

Jay Cutler has played his entire pro career in the AFC West, until this year. The defenses he has played against, San Diego mainly, run the 3-4 defense.

What the Steelers brought into Chicago last week was nothing that Jay Cutler was not used to seeing.

True, Carson Palmer has played his entire career against the likes of the Steelers (3-4), Ravens (3-4 hybrid), and Browns (3-4, kind of, they try).  Palmer has had nowhere near the success of Cutler.

I have said this numerous times in comments, so I decided to explain to everyone the real difference between players like Jay Cutler and Carson Palmer.

There are two basic types of quarterbacks in the NFL. Those who do well against the zone and those that do well against man-to-man.

Jay Cutler, had he been traded to the Cleveland Browns, could have changed the future of that franchise. Cutler is the first man that I can say does great against zone defenses.

The following is a list of some of the best QB's playing against zone defenses:

Jay Cutler

Kerry Collins

Steve McNair

Tom Brady

All of these men over the years, have given the Steelers a difficult time playing against. They do not have the strongest arms, but have amazing accuracy.

They have the ability to read what a defense is doing, before they do it, and that makes them the hardest quarterbacks for a team like the Steelers to play against.

Is it a coincidence that the Steelers had a hard time in their first two weeks, playing two of the people that are on this list?  I think not.

These are the types of QB's that know what the opposing defense is before the snap of the ball, so they can hit a quick read on a three step drop for success.

Then there are those who are good against man-to-man defenses.

Peyton Manning

Dan Marino

Joe Montana

John Elway

These men, known as some of the best ever to play that game, are better against man-to-man defenses, and have struggles against zone.

They have amazing arms, with timing, all can hit the long ball, and have the accuracy to hit a receiver in stride, anywhere on the field.

The problem with these guys, they did not see zone defenses very often, and regardless of how many times you watch it on film, it is different than live action.

Carson Palmer falls into the category of better at man-to-man.

When Palmer plays a team that runs man to man, and he gets time in the pocket to pick a defense apart. He has the arm strength to light a team up, if he gets time.

So far this season, the Bengals have played the Denver Broncos and the Green Bay Packers. Right now, Carson Palmer is ranked 23rd in the NFL. He has completed 36-of-56 passes, for 432 yards, with three touchdowns and four interceptions.

Cincinnati is probably going to try to control the game by running the ball. As most teams know, that is not easily done against the Steelers. For the Bengals to win this game, Carson Palmer is going to have to do it with his arm.

If the Steelers play this game as they should, blitzing like Blitzburgh does, then Carson Palmer will show that he is not what Jay Cutler was.

If Pittsburgh gives Palmer time, the result will be the same as it was against Cutler.


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