One of the most annoying things about the so-called NFL “experts” is that the often regurgitate the same storyline over and over. And over. This year’s talking point appears to be the apparent “decline” of Carson Palmer. Those who aren’t really paying attention will cite Palmer’s declining passing stats and surmise that Carson himself is declining, as the NFL Network’s Marshall Faulk does in this video.
However, those who really pay attention to the Bengals – myself included – will recognize the plethora of other factors contributing to the decline in passing performance. For starters, Cincinnati transitioned to a rushing offense, often running the ball on first and second down and being forced to throw on third. Secondly, the team’s top two tight ends were lost before the season started. Thirdly, there were new receivers (sure-handed T. J. Houshmanzadeh was gone) and a number of critical drops (Laveranues Coles and Daniel Coats were far from sure-handed). And finally, Palmer was dealing with an injury to his non-throwing hand (which Faulk points out only after saying he was “handing the ball off strangely.” Well, DUH).
Even with all that mess, Palmer still had solid numbers before Chris Henry was lost for the season. In the seven full games in which Henry played, Palmer had at least 230 yards in 5 games and a touchdown/interception ratio of almost 2:1. After Henry’s injury, things fell apart, with Palmer topping 230 yards only once.
So the casual observer might see a general decline in Carson Palmer. But the more educated will notice the decline in his supporting cast. Quite frankly, I’m tired of making this point. So this is it. At least until another “expert” regurgitates the Palmer storyline once again.