ATLANTA - OCTOBER 24: Quarterback Carson Palmer #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks to pass upfield against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on October 24 2010 in Atlanta Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
No matter what Carson Palmer does, or doesn't do, there will be a group that's clearly given up on the team's franchise quarterback. Yet, sometimes it's hard not to agree with the taboo thought that the Bengals might be better off moving on. The argument is the simplest of arguments. Quarterbacks are judged by wins. That's it. Carson Palmer has lost 22 of his previous 42 starts, dating back to the 2007 season opener. Two playoff games, no wins. The argument, while it totally makes sense as to why someone would make it, can be somewhat shortsighted.
Quarterbacks need blockers. Disregarding that quick and simple fact is like purposely not recruiting Woody Harrelson when the Zombie Apocalypse happens. Which, according to league sources, isn't soon. Quarterbacks do not play defense. Quarterbacks do not choke on field goal attempts, nor do they angle a punt symmetrically perfect in the middle of the endzone. Why did the Bengals lose against the Falcons? Palmer's fault, because he couldn't record a fourth passing touchdown to raise his passer rating over 130.0 to tie the game, some would say. Roddy White's 201 yards receiving, a trivial thought much like Conan O'Brien returning to television next week, had nothing to do with the Bengals loss. Not at all. How many touchdowns did he have, one? No, two. Oh, then that's less valuable because he has a second one he could simply trade for a sandwich, used batteries and disgruntled Russian neighbors who still harbor frustrated feelings because Ross and Rachel went on a break. None of us have the heart to tell them that they got back together. Angry Russian neighbors rule.
If you really want to take bite out of my optimistic candy bar (that didn't come out nearly as well as I thought it would), there's even reasons to be somewhat hopeful of a Palmer outbreak as the season progresses. Consider that Terrell Owens and Palmer are finally synching up. Chad Ochocinco is taking all of this personal, and wants to do something about it. Andre Smith is finally getting that consistent work we had hoped for. In two of his past three games -- totally taking out his performance against the Buccaneers because that would somewhat hinder our argument and because we can -- Palmer has completed 61 of 86 passes (71%) for 783 yards passing and five touchdowns for a passer rating of 118.5.
Palmer's performance against Atlanta -- three touchdowns, completing 72% of his passes for 412 yards passing and a 116.4 passer rating -- earned him a nomination for this week's AFC Player of the Week. Raiders running back Darren McFadden would go on to win the award, rushing for 165 yards (on 16 carries), three rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown in a 59-14 win over the Denver Broncos.
In the end, our case remains the same. While it's not fair to put the majority of the blame on Palmer's shoulders for this season, or the team's lack of a passing offense in 2009, the fact is, the franchise quarterback is the franchise quarterback for a reason. He's the man that everyone looks to to win games. So, maybe they're right. Maybe quarterbacks should be judged by wins. But then so should everyone else.