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Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals Need To Air It Out Sooner or Later

Eric Ball@@BigLeagueEballFeatured ColumnistDecember 3, 2009

CINCINNATI - NOVEMBER 29:  Carson Palmer #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals passes the ball  during the NFL game against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium on November 29, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

OK, we get it, Marvin: the 2009 Cincinnati Bengals want to establish the running game.

You have proven to the entire league that the four-headed monster that is Cedric Benson, Bernard Scott, Larry Johnson, and Brian Leonard can run, jump, juke and spin around opponents.
 
Fans are beginning to wonder if QB Carson Palmer is even the key to success anymore.
 
While the pass happy magical-turned-nightmarish 2005 is a distant memory, the key to winning is the same. Palmer was a Pro Bowler that year, had a fantasy player's dream of a stat line.

Now he is tucking the ball and running at a career-best rate. Everybody is getting in on the running game it seems.
 
Palmer hasn't thrown for over 300 yards going back to the 2007 season. He threw for 110 yards against the freakin' Browns last week. What is the deal with Palmer, has he lost his skills?
 
Not quite...
 
Palmer is one of the top seven or eight QBs in the NFL. He is forgotten by the national media because of the flashy, yet overrated young guns like Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler, and Tony Romo.
 
This season he hasn't been asked to carry the team until the end of games. When he does throw, it has been screens, slants, and curls. Long bombs have been harder to find than a believable Tiger Woods excuse.
 
This has nothing to do with Palmer's arm strength or accuracy. It’s the lack of a deep threat (Chris Henry on IR hurts bad) as well as the overall offensive philosophy that has changed.
 
Why not have Palmer sit back in the pocket that extra two-to-three seconds and wait for the deep ball?

The Bengals are well aware that No. 9 going down also means the team goes down. He is the one guy that can't get hurt. They already had two scares this season with his health.
 
In a "here we go again" moment, Palmer sprained his ankle in the first game of the preseason and didn't play again till Week One after missing 12 games last year. In October, Palmer sprained his non-throwing hand, having to wear a protective glove and hand-off with his throwing hand ever since.
 
So, naturally, Bengal fans are concerned for his health. But concerned with the 29-year old's ability? No way.
 
Remember earlier in the season when the Bengals earned the nickname "the Cardiac Cats"? They made a habit of demoralizing the opponent with a last second scoring drive.
 
Palmer drove the length of the field to beat the Broncos with 17 seconds left (until the immaculate deflection).

He conducted a clock devouring six-minute drive that culminated in a TD and a win with 20 seconds to go against Pittsburgh. He had a 15-yard scamper setting up a field goal on a fourth down in overtime against the Browns that prevented a tie, and he marched down the field against Baltimore in the final minute as well.
 
Coach Marvin Lewis understands this. He knows what Palmer is capable of. That's why he is protecting him so much. But as the NFL schedule hits Week 13, it's time to go deep.
 
Enter the Detroit Lions.
 
The Lions will visit Paul Brown this Sunday sporting the 31st-ranked passing defense. They rarely pressure the QB and have an extremely mediocre secondary.
 
This is the game where Palmer can dial up some bombs to Chad or some deep slants to Coles. They need to put up 21 by halftime, to show the Lions (and more importantly the rest of the NFL) that they are more than a running team. Open up the floodgates early to quiet the offensive doubters.
 
Aside from the 45-point Bears explosion, the offense has put up a measly 17, 18, 17, and 16 points. But they won three out of four.

Sunday needs to be the day to take advantage of the matchups and make a statement, not to mention the importance of keeping the one and only Chad Ochocinco interested. You know deep down he is fuming over the pedestrian numbers being put up. The last thing the Bengals need is a late season Chad concern.
 
I have a feeling this won't be the case since coach Lewis brought in his new toy, Larry Johnson.

He is saving the majority of the playbook for the Vikings and Chargers in back-to-back road games following Sunday. Lewis understands the significance of those two games, and the insignificance of the Lions game.
 
Be prepared to complain about the offense for another week Bengals fans. But when they travel to the Metrodome to play the Vikings, I’ll expect the offense to finally have the training wheels taken off.

Maybe a basic game plan can still yield 28 against the Lions, or it will be another 16-7 yawner.

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