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Carson Palmer's Struggles Trend With Team's Overall Struggles and Shift In Philosophy

Ranking the best quarterbacks in the NFL, Jason Cole puts the Bengals' quarterback Carson Palmer 11th, writing:

There was a time that Carson Palmer threw the ball like a Greek god and put up numbers to match. Age, injury and changes to the receiving corps have altered the view of Palmer, who now appears to be at something of a crossroads in his career. It’s worth wondering whether Palmer, 30, will ever really deliver on his promise or whether his career will get swallowed up by the swirling vortex of suckage that is the Bengals organization.

One of the underlying questions heading into training camp bubbles towards the surface at warp speed with most of us. Can Carson Palmer resume a career as an elite NFL quarterback? We've examined the issue before. But it's not always about him, in truth. It's about everything else.

During his most efficient season in 2005, Palmer recorded a 101.1 passer rating, 32 touchdowns and a 67.8% completion rate. Also in that year, he had one of the best offensive lines in the league, a younger Chad Ochocinco, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chris Henry, Kelly Washington (when he played) and a running back in Chris Perry that nearly broke the franchise record for most receptions by a running back. Not to mention that Rudi Johnson had a better year (ARGUABLY!) in 2005 than Cedric Benson did in 2009 (for comparative analysis only) -- especially the touchdowns -- setting a franchise record 1,458 yards rushing in 2005. A record that would have likely fallen if Benson hadn't gotten hurt in 2009.

Rudi Johnson ('05) 16 1,458 91.1 4.3 12
Cedric Benson ('09) 13 1,251 96.2 4.2 6

The team also had an opportunist defense that gave Cincinnati more offensive possessions, but also a defense that at times forced the offense to score more and more points. That's neither here nor there, at this point.

Since then, Palmer's numbers have relatively fluxed through 2007. While his passing attempts and passing yards rose, his touchdowns fell, interceptions increased and his passer rating dropped roughly seven points per season.

However, like Jack and B., I'm giving Palmer the benefit of the doubt. Yes, I know. I'm favoring him too much. That's fine. But consider this. Since 2005, the team's talent level on the offensive line lowered with age, injury and, well, Eric "freaking" Ghiaciuc. The rushing offense took a nose dive and the defense, before 2008, didn't help. We can obviously write off 2008 and one could argue that the team's complete shift with a brutally pounding offensive philosophy, combined with the lack of wide receiver help throughout the season, suffered Palmer's chances to resume his "elite" level quarterbacking with the throw of a "greek god."

Yes, yes. Palmer's year is this year. The offensive line, while rebuilt, is growing with more talent, experience and cohesiveness. The wide receivers have been rehauled and Palmer's duel tight end threat in Jermaine Gresham and Chase Coffman only add to Palmer's suddenly deep pool of talent. Then there's the rushing offense and a talented defense that finished in the top-ten in several major rankings -- such as scoring and total. Why is this his year? He's healthy, unlike 2008. Why is this his year? He has people to throw it to, unlike 2009.

Now, onto Coles' statement: "It’s worth wondering whether Palmer, 30, will ever really deliver on his promise or whether his career will get swallowed up by the swirling vortex of suckage that is the Bengals organization." And... go!