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Is Carson’s Struggles really the Bengals Offensive Line Fault?

Shortly after the fluky loss to the Bronco's on a tipped pass that should have fallen to the ground harmlessly, stats came out showing Carson Palmers record not as good as once thought.  Yes, the offense has struggled mightily and offensive line has taken the brunt of the criticism.  But is this the true cause to the problem?  Besides the injuries to such players such as Willie Anderson and Levi Jones over the past few years, I think another position that should come under fire is the quarterback coach.  Since the QB backup/coach Jon Kitna left in 2006, Carson's numbers has steadily declined in one category or another.

The 2005 season set the standard for not only the Bengals, but for Carson himself.  Since Kitna's departure after that season, Carson's record has been less than stellar at 15-22.  In 2006, Palmer was sacked 36 times which was nearly twice as many from the 2005 season.  Is this solely the fault of the offensive line, or could some of sacks been avoided with proper coaching?  In 2007, he threw 26 touchdowns but threw a career high 20 interceptions with a passer rating of 86.7, far below the 2005 best 101.1.  Last season, cut short by his elbow injury, he had 3 touchdowns with 4 interceptions after only 4 games, putting him on pace to finish with a career low 12 touchdowns and 16 interceptions and just over 2900 yards passing.  These are not the stats we have come to know from Carson.

During this time frame, the defense has been known to be rather ineffective, giving up large leads and not doing what it takes to finish a winnable game.  When Carson took over the offense, they quickly established themselves being able to overcome whatever situation the defense presented, whether it was a long field or an early 2 TD deficit.  But since Kitna's departure, those situations have recently presented challenges the Bengals don't seem comfortable with.

Ken Zampese has done a good job getting the most out of Carson.  Heck, he is every got pedigree being the son of Ernie Zampese, QB coach extraordinaire.  But he does not have the instincts or tangibles that Kitna brings.  Most notably, Kitna knows Bob Bratkowski offense better then Bratkowski himself.  When Kitna was here, he would meet Carson first after a touchdown or an exchange of possession, either to congratulate him on a good play or to correct an error from the pervious play.  Whenever the camera showed one on the sideline, the other was right there looking over the images of the previous plays or they were discussing what maybe more effective on the upcoming series.  And even off field, they had built a chemistry that has not been seen since the departure.

Kitna left the Bengals because he felt he still could be a starter and landed squarely in purgatory, Detroit.  He had some good games and of course he had his bad.  Now he is with the Dallas Cowboys backing up Tony Romo, a situation I am sure he does not desire.  Unless Romo suffers another injury, playing time will not be to Kitna's liking.  If he still desires to be a starter, his current diminished role as backup and recent struggles in Detroit may make it difficult for a team to consider him a starter next season.  So to stay active in football, I believe his talents can be better used in Cincinnati coaching his favorite pupil and our favorite quarterback.