Best of the 21st Century Bengals: Quarterback
Aug 24, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) calls a play in the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
NFL fans, we are currently in the “dead period” of the league’s year. Mini-camps and OTA’s have been completed, and players have a chance to relax for four weeks before training camps begin. While most story lines have been written for the upcoming training camps already, I wanted to go a different route.
The 2000’s have been a better time period for Bengals fans, with a return to the playoffs occurring in 2005. This current period is as good of time as ever to do a “Best Of” series for the Bengals of the 2000’s. No surprise here, but we will start with the all important quarterback position. In my opinion, the best quarterback for the Bengals in the 2000’s is Carson Palmer.
Palmer was one of the last rookie quarterbacks who got a chance to sit out a year and learn the offense. When he was drafted in 2003, Jon Kitna was the starter for the entirety of his rookie campaign. Kitna took every snap in 2003 and graciously gave up his starting spot to Palmer in 2004. Palmer’s first year was less than stellar throwing 18 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
Palmer, however, transformed into an All-Pro player in 2005. His statistics are staggering to be quite frank: 3,836 yards, 32 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a 101.1 passer rating. Since, Palmer has never exceeded that passer rating. He helped to turn a city, which had not seen a winning season since 1990, into a Bengals frenzy. His season was cut short in the AFC Wild Card game against Pittsburgh by Kimo Von Oelhoffen. Despite the unfortunate injury, Palmer’s season is one of the greatest seasons by a Bengals quarterback in history.
Palmer was never able to replicate his 2005 statistics again with the Bengals, but he did have a solid 2006 season, throwing for 4,131 yards with 28 touchdowns and 13 turnovers. While he never fulfilled expectations as the Bengals quarterback, he helped to transition Bengals fans from the dark days of the 90’s to finding the playoffs in the 2000’s.
When making a “Best of 2000’s” list, we have to go back and see the list of men who have played quarterback for the Bengals. Looking at the list, there has been a great deal of security in the quarterback position in the 2000’s. Akili Smith started off the 2000’s and had no success for the Bengals. Jon Kitna helped to lead the Bengals to an 8-8 record in 2003 and nearly led the team to the playoffs that year. Yet, statistically, Kitna never exceeded a 87.4 passer rating as a Bengal. Ryan Fitzpatrick filled in for Palmer in 2008 due to injury. He was nothing more than a stand in.
The true competition for the best in the 2000’s comes down to Andy Dalton and Palmer. Dalton has led the Bengals to four straight playoff appearances in as many years in the league. That feat is impressive and cannot be taken away from Dalton. That being said, however, Dalton has never had a truly dominant season as the Bengals quarterback. Palmer did in 2005, which may not be replicated by Dalton. My gut feeling is Dalton will never have a record season like Palmer. For this reason, Carson Palmer is the best quarterback of the 2000’s.