So far this season there have been many different Bengals story lines: Batman and Robin, the move to a more balanced offense, Mike Zimmer's tough defense and rookies Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley's awesomeness. There has been one story line that has been discussed and debated more than all of the others: What's the deal with Carson Palmer?
Some think that he hasn't been the same since Kimo von Serialkiller smashed Palmer's knee in 2005. Some believe that his elbow is not completely healed. Others share the belief that the offensive line doesn't allow Palmer to play at his potential and still others think that Palmer is just flat out overrated. Whatever the case may be, Marvin Lewis and the Bengals have Palmer's back.
"When he has opportunities to throw the football and deliver the ball he does an excellent job," Lewis said. "Yesterday he had some guys not quite do the things he needs them to do right. It all reflects back on the quarterback."
I'm not going to say what I think but I will say this: After watching other NFL games this weekend, including the passing contest between Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler on Monday night, Palmer doesn't look nearly as sharp as half the quarterbacks from other teams. I don't know whose fault it is but I do know that it is somebody's fault and it needs to be fixed. We all know that the NFL is a passing league. The teams that win the Super Bowl can move the ball down the field through the air. Right now, the Cincinnati Bengals cannot do that.
Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski, who many Bengals fans blame for the Bengals lackluster offense, believes that Palmer doesn't look sharp but that the struggling passing game is not all his fault, it just looks like it is.
Bratkowski said of Palmer's performance: "It wasn't one of his better games. But like any quarterback, he needs help from the other guys. The dropped balls and the routes being precise and the protections.
"If everybody bases it totally on numbers, that's where the criticism comes in and the quarterback always takes the brunt of the heat."
So, what's the plan? How are the thinkers in the sky box going to fix the Bengals offense? Well, the plan is to do what they're doing now and hope it gets better.
"We're not going to fall short this year. We're going to throw the ball and we're going to throw it effectively," Bratkowski said. "The identity is run the ball and, at the same time, be productive in our pass game and we will be."
The one common thread to the struggles has been the play of the offensive line. Despite all five starters being back, they haven't consistently opened running lanes and provided Palmer with time or a clean pocket.
"I think we're a little more balanced in throwing it this year," Bratkowski said. "And we've got to do a better job in the protection, where as last year there was a heavy focus on the run and less exposed in protection."
Here's the fact of the matter, Palmer is Cincinnati's guy, for better or for worse. He's not going anywhere because his paycheck is way too big and the Bengals can't just let him walk away without squeezing everything they can out of him. My parents always said that you can't squeeze blood out of a turnip. If it turns out that Palmer is a turnip then the Bengals could be in some trouble. However, you could definitely squeeze blood from *insert anything living here*. The question is, is Carson Palmer a turnip or is he something that you can squeeze blood from? What do you think?