During the average Cincinnati Bengals game, the four (work safe) words that I seem to scream most often are, "throw the ball, Palmer!!!" Former offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski's downfield passing-based scheme meant the QB had to wait for the play to develop, and as the Bengals' offensive line deteriorated from 2006 onward that became increasingly difficult to do. So I was a bit surprised when I saw this breakdown today. Of the 26 sacks Carson Palmer took in 2010, just four came when he held onto the ball for more than three seconds. That's light-years behind leaders Joe Flacco (25 out of 40 sacks) and Ben Roethlisberger (20/32).
At the risk of being labeled a Carson apologist, what this really flags for me is just how much work the offensive line needs. Nearly all of the times Palmer went down -- 22 out of 26 sacks -- he had little to no time to throw. In fact, if you rework JJ Cooper's breakdown to rank by the most sacks taken in three seconds or less, Palmer soars up to 9th in the NFL last year (warning: crappy formatting follows).
|1||Jay Cutler||Chicago Bears||33||11-5|
|2||Jimmy Claussen||Carolina Panthers||29||2-14|
|3||Donovan McNabb||Washington Redskins||28||6-10|
|4||Phillip Rivers||San Diego Chargers||25||9-7|
|5||David Garrard||Jacksonville Jaguars||24||8-8|
|6||Sam Bradford||St. Louis Rams||23||7-9|
|7||Chris Henne||Miami Dolphins||23||7-9|
|8||Matt Schaub||Houston Texans||23||6-10|
|9||Carson Palmer||Cincinnati Bengals||22||4-12|
Of those nine teams, just one, the Bears, made the postseason. By contrast, the of top nine teams as measured by sacks which could be blamed on the QB, five made the playoffs -- the Bears, Steelers, Eagles, Jets and Chiefs.
Now, having an o-line that allows its QB to be hit by an avalanche 20-plus times a season isn't guaranteed to kill your chances. Witness who's one notch down from Palmer at 21 sacks of three seconds or less: Aaron Rogers. He did OK in 2010. But unless the Bengals are able to somehow swing a Palmer-for Rogers swap this offseason (ha ha ha) they may want to put just a little less emphasis on who will be throwing the ball and a little more on the guys who will be protecting him.