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Palmer somehow gets free pass, and it's way off target

by | National Columnist

It only takes a few series of watching Carson Palmer to see that something is very wrong.

His throwing motion, at times, is drastically off. Palmer's passes are sometimes lazy. He tosses medicine balls that will one day lead to a receiver having a liver lacerated. His decision-making is awful. His footwork is worse. Palmer has never been mobile, but he now possesses the escape potential of a Guantanamo Bay detainee.

Palmer makes Drew Bledsoe look like Mike Vick.

Carson Palmer is the biggest culprit in the Bengals' slow start. (AP)  
Carson Palmer is the biggest culprit in the Bengals' slow start. (AP)  
At times, he has the mechanics of Vince Young. He's Vince Palmer.

Actually, Young is playing better than Vince Palmer.

Jay Cutler is playing better. So is Ryan Fitzpatrick. So is David Garrard.

Palmer's 78.3 passer rating barely trumps Jason Campbell (76.2), Matt Cassel (74), Bruce Gradkowski (71.1) and Alex Smith (71.6).

Carson Palmer continues to play like Carson Daly, and yet the outrage continues to be mostly muted. It's been this way for years with Palmer, and so goes one of the greatest free passes, in the NFL and the media, any quarterback has ever received.

This past week Palmer tossed three interceptions. Two were his fault. Damn. Now I'm making excuses for him.

It's built into us media types. It's the Palmer Media Reflex Action (PMRA), a proven scientific disease. Palmer plays like dog poop and we blame the dog.

Despite Palmer's poor play the media is still in Gloria Allred mode, lawyering up for Palmer. Tiki Barber actually pinned much of the blame for the Bengals' recent problems on, of all people, Terrell Owens, who only has 17 catches for 324 yards and two touchdowns the past two weeks. Sure, it's his fault.

During Barber's three-minute rant on another website he didn't mention Palmer's name once. Barber is brainwashed like everyone else. Analyst Merril Hoge put much of the Bengals' problems on the defense.

An ESPN blog blamed the coaching staff for making poor play calls. The only blame Lewis deserves is keeping Palmer in the starting lineup.

It's clear now the problem with the Bengals was the lack of a running game or the offensive line or the receiving core. It was the quarterback. It was Palmer all along.

Palmer's pedigree is catnip to some. He's a USC golden boy who was portrayed as the next great NFL quarterback. When names like Brady, Manning (times two), Brees, McNabb and others left Palmer in the dust with their potential (and, in some cases, their rings) the excuse making for Palmer started. It hasn't stopped since.

Philip Rivers is generating historic numbers and his talent on offense is solid but not exceptional. This is what Palmer was supposed to do. He hasn't come close in recent years, and now he's working with two excellent receiving options and a running game. The excuses are gone.

In five contests this season Palmer has thrown six interceptions. That doesn't include the nearly half-dozen would-be picks that were dropped by brick-handed defenders. Palmer is on pace to throw 19 interceptions, and his career mark is 20.

And yet the criticism hasn't reached hysterical levels the way it does with Tony Romo or McNabb.

Palmer just plods along, given the second, third and fourth benefit of the doubt. He's received so many benefits he's an employee pension plan.

But what has Palmer done to earn that trust?

Palmer's apologists will say the Bengals don't have a better option backing Palmer up. The problem is, the Bengals haven't signed a decent backup because they haven't wanted to make Palmer uncomfortable (or because they're too cheap). The opposite should be true. Palmer's backup is his brother, Jordan.

Palmer's a good guy. He's not some alleged dirty old man. Palmer never tortured Fido. Neither has Romo, but he has one bad game and the national terror threat level is raised. All quarterbacks in the NFL are held to ridiculous standards. All except one.

Palmer shuffles along, regressing, and all is quiet.

Must be nice.


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