Can you believe that Carson Palmer is entering his fifth season? It's true. After sitting during his rookie season behind the infallible Jon Kitna, Palmer became the secondary face of the franchise. Behind Marvin Lewis, Palmer is the guy that people stop to listen to at press conferences. Not because he's the quarterback and the highest paid player on the team; but because the fights he chooses to fight, are needed. When the team went though controversy, Palmer unleashed saying selfishness has to go. No one argued. No one rolled their eyes. Everyone bounced their heads in approval. When there's nothing to say, Palmer sits quietly in the background. After all, when you have Chad Johnson on your team, there's really no room or time to speak... at all.
Before 2003, the Bengals were ranked 24th or worse on offense for five straight seasons. During that stretch, the best play from a quarterback is argued between Jon Kitna ('02: 3,178 yards, 16 TDs, 16 INTs, 62.2%), Jeff Blake ('99: 2,670 yards, 16 TDs, 12 INTs, 55.3%) and Neil O'Donnell ('98: 2,216 yards, 15 TDs, 4 INTs, 61.8%).
Once Palmer stepped in, our annual question of quarterback would finally cease to be asked. From 1999 to 2003, six quarterbacks took snaps (Jeff Blake, Scott Covington, Akili Smith, Scott Mitchell, Jon Kitna, Gus Frerotte). Since then, its either been Palmer or Kitna starting with Anthony Wright taking a few snaps.
In the past four seasons, the Bengals have recorded one winning season. I know, that's a bit misleading. In 2003, the Bengals came off a 2-14 season with Palmer sitting as a rookie. Palmer's season started against the Jets in 2004. The greatest level of success, during the Lewis era, was 2005 after the team finished 11-5 and broke many stale non-winning (14), non-playoff streaks (15).
Stability was always an issue at quarterback in Cincinnati. And its no coincidence that the Bengals scoring shot through the roof with Palmer at quarterback -- starting in 2004.
2006 - 373 (NFL: 8th, AFC: 4th)
2005 - 421 (NFL: 4th, AFC: 2nd)
2004 - 374 (NFL: 10th, AFC: 7th)
2003 - 346 (NFL: 13th, AFC: 7th)
2002 - 279 (NFL: 28th)
2001 - 226 (NFL: 31st)
2000 - 185 (NFL: 30th)
1999 - 283 (NFL 24th)
1998 - 268 (NFL: 27th)
When Palmer starts, the Bengals are 25-20 (left in the third quarter in loss against New England in '04 after spraining his knee).
But it's not all Palmer either. We've seen the emergence of T.J. Houshmandzadeh from oft-injured return man to, arguably, the league's best #2 receiver. We've seen a guy named Rudi Johnson breaking franchise rushing records. We've seen a drafted receiver completely change the way defenses plan against our offense. We've had two offensive linemen win either a Pro Bowl start (Willie Anderson) or Pro Bowl alternate (Eric Steinbach) and a third (Levi Jones) that will earn his own. We have a Pro Bowl alternate full back in Jeremi Johnson.
There's no question that the talent around Palmer is better than with the likes of Akili Smith, pre-2003 Jon Kitna, Scott Mitchell or Neil O'Donnell. Is that because a player like Carson Palmer raises the level of play or simply acquiring better talent? Or is half and half?
|SEASON||DPAR (NFL rank)||DVOA (NFL rank)|
|2004||39.0 (15th)||7.2% (15th)|
|2005||108.3 (2nd)||34.5% (2nd)|
|2006||97.2 (4th)||27.6% (6th)|
DPAR (Defense-adjusted Points Above Replace) means the value of a player over a backup caliber quarterback during "the same game situations".
DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) is a value, per play, compared to the average quarterback in "the same game situations".
Just for kicks and giggles, if we take Palmer's three seasons and project it for a 15-year career, Palmer's number will look like...
I used the very complicated scientific based, multiply by five to get "projections".