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I Think I Believe

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on October 19, 2011 – 5:14 pm

Again, in honor of Lance McLaRussa and Peter The King, Things I Think I Believe, The Carson Edition.

I Think I Believe Tuesday was a very weird day in Bengaldom. It’s a happy day with the Church of Paul Brown’s bells pealing and the pundits singing and the team resting at 4-2.

And let’s lift a glass to a first-round pick in 2012 and at least a second-round pick in 2013. Right guard Bobbie Williams heard the compensation for Carson Palmer and his eyes went wider than Shayne Graham against the Steelers.

“The gift,” Bobbie said, “that keeps on giving.”

But there should be some sadness here. Palmer is one of the great all-time Bengals and even though he’s been good and gone nine months now in the hearts and minds of Bengaldom, the trade closes a significant chapter in its history.

What’s that you say? He’s a quitter, a coward, a wimp?

If that’s how you see it. I see it that he’s a good guy and a hell of a quarterback who made a mistake when he let the frustration and competitiveness get the better of him and would any of us be any better?

Even if I disagree with how he went about it at the end or wish at times he could have been a more passionate leader or more engaged in the community, that doesn’t change the fact he was one of the more courageous, talented and nicest guys to play here. He remained true to himself. Not warm and fuzzy. But private, polite, laid-back, resolute.

I Think I Believe so did Mike Brown stay true to himself. Tough, patient, trying to fit today into the big picture. Not as inflexible as you think.

And that says something for both guys in this age of TwitterFacebookNFLNetworkTeamCamsTeaPartyOccupationWallStreet with the world screaming at you at 235 miles per hour red, angry and mean like some boil on the neck to be just like them.

I Think I Believe I’m biased. Not 15 minutes after Palmer walked out of his first Raiders news conference he was on the horn Tuesday night. Not with SI or PFT or PTI or Shefty or Mort or the Dannetes or Rome, but with Bengals.com. Given what has transpired since his Mobile Manifesto at the Senior Bowl back in January, you wouldn’t exactly figure that would be an outlet on his list.

But it says something about him. It says everything about him. He’s a classy guy. Always has been. He didn’t say why he wanted out. We’ve all got guesses and we’re all probably a little right. Demanding a trade with the retirement card and four years left on a contract wasn’t the best thing to do, but this league, heck this team, has seen a lot worse. It could have got ugly. Palmer could have reported to force Brown’s hand. Brown could have offered to ship him to Washington. Tuesday could have been a two time-zone Jerry Springer, but you have to credit the civility of both guys.

I Think I Believe I disagree with Doc, although I’m assuming the “Mike Brown’s Finest Hour” column is largely tongue in cheek.

If you ask me, deciding to keep the Bengals in Cincinnati back in 1995 when everyone was telling him the smart money was in Baltimore was his finest hour. Published reports now put the Ravens revenue at $25 million more per year than the Bengals.

Other hours that trump the Palmer trade: Convincing Paul Brown to get back into pro football and doing it in Cincinnati, scouting and pushing the draft selections of Ken Anderson and Boomer Esiason, building two Super Bowl teams in the ‘80s, hiring the AFC North’s first African-American head coach in Marvin Lewis.

I Think I Believe I liked Lewis’ answer when I asked about the consideration given to the same 4-2 records of the Bengals and Raiders. Say the Chargers win the AFC West and say the Bengals are trying to be one of two wild card teams that come out of the AFC North. Well, Cincinnati has beaten Buffalo head-to-head to win a tiebreaker. And if they had let Hue Jackson struggle with Kyle Boller for a while, you wouldn’t have had the Raiders to worry about for very long. Now you’ve given them air with a guy who has been to the Pro Bowl and won divisions.

But as Lewis said, “Once you make the choice and the decision, you can’t worry what happens on the other side. If you go through life that way, where are you going? You’d chase your tail all of the time and you’re not moving forward. Anytime a guy leaves this place and has put himself on the line for me like they have, I’m going to wish them well every chance I get. We love the chance to compete against people we’ve had here before. That’s part of it. That’s what any sport is about.”

I Think I Believe Palmer was worth the No. 1 pick in 2003. In the six seasons before he became the starter, the Bengals were 14-36 in division games. In his six seasons he didn’t miss a division game, they were 22-14. Enough said. And they had a shot every time he strapped it up after a decade of getting blown out and for eight years he said all the right things.

I Think I Believe I’ve said before that Palmer has a chance to be the Jim Plunkett of the early 21st century. A former Heisman Trophy winner and overall No. 1 pick; a battle-scarred veteran thought to be washed up leading another franchise to a Super Bowl title. Add now that both are returning to their native California for Al Davis’ team.

From 2004-06, only Brady and Manning were better than Palmer. And in ’09 he might not have had great stats, but he had the ultimate year for a quarterback with seven last drives at the end of a game or overtime that either won it, tied it, or gave the Bengals the lead. If he had performed that season in the NFC East there would be a statue of him.

Does he have anything left? I’d like to see him in an offense where the receivers don’t make it up as they go and the system doesn’t ask him to always drop back seven steps and make a great throw just to get eight yards. Then we’ll know.

I Think I Believe I disagree with Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated when he says that there is a double standard in granting Palmer a trade and not one to Chad Ochocinco when he demanded a trade in 2008. Which worries me because Trotter is one of the smartest guys out there and is very good at his craft.

But they are two different situations. The major thing is Ocho had a prohibitive salary cap hit of about $5-6 million if the Bengals traded him before the ’08 draft. Palmer had none. The Ocho reported to mandatory minicamp and training camp, Palmer didn’t report to anything.

And The Ocho went very public with his rant (he kept NFL Network on the air by himself that spring) that began at the Super Bowl and didn’t stop, really, until he got sent home in November the night before the Steelers game for insubordination. Palmer didn’t surface until Tuesday’s news conference.


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Posted in Hobson's Choice | 16 Comments »


16 Responses to “I Think I Believe”

  1. By mwindle1973 on Oct 20, 2011 | Reply

    Hobson I take issue with take one our former 7 step drop offense and how it limited Palmer. He struggled under OC Paul Hackett (Bill Walsh disciple, WCO) at USC until OC Norm Chow took over with his Coryell based proto-spread offense. This 7 step drop as you know is otherwise known as an Air Coryell variant. The Bears were in the NFC championship, and used the Martzball variant of Air Coryell. And Al Saunders (Raiders OC) directly learned the offense from Coryell. Long story short is they run a very similar offense in Oakland to Brat’s. Brat’s variant came from the Dennis Erickson/Jack Elway “spread coryell”. Or basically a single back, 3 wide coryell system. … The difference is that Gruden in the WCO style details everything about the play. QB footwork, blocking technique, etc. In Brat’s playbook in the Coryell style, it’s more improvised. The player has options with each play, and decides which option to use as a reaction to the D. WRs go to where the defense isn’t, RBs I will always maintain Brat’s offense stopped working because we stopped stocking the personnel needed to run it. In particular the degradation of the Oline from mid 2006-2010.

  2. By mwindle1973 on Oct 20, 2011 | Reply

    Really Brat’s and Al Saunder’s offense are very similar. I think that’s why they wanted Palmer so bad. And I think that’s why he’s going to be able to start this weekend. Carson still knows how to read the Ds and audible to the correct formation, so that’s the big thing to learn in that offense. There aren’t really many plays. I wish him well, and he think he went to probably the best fit for him. I like the Jim Plunkett reference, but Carson never struggled nearly that much. He had a bad season last year. I don’t care about stats, they don’t tell everything. They don’t tell you who dropped balls, or ran the wrong route option and caused you to be int’s. In Brat’s offense you threw to a spot on the field not to a WR. If the WR didn’t make the right read and go to that spot, you get an INT, and he gets a reality TV show. I beleive that a number of circumstances, over the course of years, led to him becoming mentally beatdown, and his confidence effected severally. Maybe even effected his resolve to succeed. I think Carson can still be the Carson of 04-06 and I think that success will come this season. I know I’ll be pulling for him.

  3. By mwindle1973 on Oct 20, 2011 | Reply

    Hobson you are right, this is not Mike Brown’s finest moment. But it’s darn fine example of his business skills. He took a situation where he had no leverage, and by the end of it he had all the leverage. And not only leverage on Palmer, but on any team who wanted him. But some of us have known for years that he was this savvy. As savvy as he his in most areas, there a few that he should just stay out of for the most part. And Paul Brown kept him out of those areas. Brown did basically build the 2 Super Bowl teams, and he handled the contracts and all that stuff. What he didn’t do was decide who made the roster, or who was coaching the QBs. Or what coordinators got hired. Or limiting the power the HC has over his staff. Like for instance, Gruden is Marvin’s guy, if he says put BScott in he goes in period. That wouldn’t have happened with Brat and Lewis. There was a bit of a power struggle there. And I think Brat’s a great OC. But as personnel changed, he needed to change too, and he wouldn’t. Because he was Brown’s man. In otherwords there was a chemistry problem there. Zim and Gruden are Marv guys. There cut from his mold. Tough as nails, no-nonsense. I think Brown has found a nice balance here if he can just continue to trust Lewis on certain issues in the future.

  4. By ljubi22 on Oct 20, 2011 | Reply

    Good job Mike Brown, as I posted few days ago, that was the team that was going to give you maximum for Carson.
    Now Marvin, you need to put Hawkins back their to return kicks. He is way too explosive not to be touching the ball. You also need to do a formation with him like Buffalo does where he starts off in the backfield, then split him out so he gets one on one with a linebacker. There’s no linebacker matching up with him one on one!

  5. By coachwine on Oct 20, 2011 | Reply

    I’m trying to think of my Christmas in April list and what positions the Bengals need to fill to be “Super” strong with 9 picks in the first three rounds over the next two years (Don’t they also get something for Joseph or did that go out the window with the lockout and new collective bargaining agreement? I know they can improve the offensive line. With Jennings and Adam Jones just waiting in the wings, Mays learning the defense, Where is it that they should go for those high picks? I’m not pretending to know, I’m asking for direction. This can be a very good football team in a very short time. And yes, Mike Brown played the Palmer situation brilliantly all along. Never bargain from a position of weakness.

  6. By hobsonschoice1 on Oct 20, 2011 | Reply

    WINDY – Thanks for the post. I do take issue with you on some of the offensive stuff. I don’t think it’s so much the system, but the choices in it.
    No matter what you’re running – West Coast, Erickson/Brat, Martz _ you’ve got to have play-action, draws, screens, move the pocket. We saw very little of that stuff with Palmer and I think it’s a reason Dalton hasn’t been as stressed.

    Also, according to Caldwell, this system allows for more improv while the other one was “precise route-running, running like it was drawn up on paper.” His words.

    I do think you’re right, and it’s what T.J. told me the other night. The pieces changed, but the philosophy didn’t and it became both stale and ill-fitted.

    And I think you’re right. He’ll play Sunday, do well, and we’ll really wonder what happened last year.

  7. By mwindle1973 on Oct 21, 2011 | Reply

    Hobson: Thanks for the response. You are right about the play action, draws, screens, and moving the pocket. I prefer Gruden’s offense, because it’s high percentage passes, but we still take shots downfield, and run a lot. Plus he has much better play action. When I say improvise (bad choice of word), I mean the WR must choose one of his options from the number tree. You’re right they are run precision like on paper. The WCO is about making common sense adjustments to the route. For eample the WRs don’t run the routes exactly like drawn up. They adjust them to the D. I guess that’s what I meant. In Gruden’s scheme you make reads and adjust. In Brat’s scheme the QB make reads, changes formations if necessary, then everyone makes reads and chooses pre-set options. In the WCO there is more improvisation between QB and WR. Either way the most important thing is you dedicate to a philosphy and draft/sign players that fit the scheme/philosophy. Then have coaches that are on the same page and allow the HC to be just that. I feel like we are pretty close to that situation here in Cincy. It’s been about 25 years since that was the case.

  8. By mwindle1973 on Oct 21, 2011 | Reply

    @coachwine: I don’t know what positions we go after. I’ve been wondering the same thing. Bobbie Williams is getting old. We do have Boling, but an upgrade at LG wouldn’t hurt either. So I thought an OG. And then also a CB because of Clements age. But I think he could play for 2-4 more years. Other than that maybe another WR depending on what becomes of Jerome Simpson’s investigation. Nice to have 3 picks out of the top 50 or so guys. And 2 in the top 30. Should be able to get 3 quality players at those spots. So maybe going for the safest, or surest pick in the first 3-4 rounds would be the best move. You know…whoever is the most likely available player to contribute to your team. Or if we really fancied a certain player like we did Green, we could use the extra pick to trade up and get him. Because we will have the ammo to get up close to the top 5 or top 10. Depending on where we finish the season at.

  9. By overthroensamoan on Oct 21, 2011 | Reply

    # 9 did many great things here. Without a doubt the 3rd best QB in franchise history. Not going to put on the same level as #14 or #7 regardless what the stats say. He helped put a lost team on the right path. Don’t think he lived up to all the hype and expectations that were placed upon him. To be able to land a 1 and a 2 makes for great press. What the Bengals do with those picks will be the deciding factor.

  10. By 2ndboot on Oct 22, 2011 | Reply

    Carson Palmer was and still is a darned good quarterback.. He’s is a bit hard headed, but so is Mikey and so am I for that matter. Hey, Mikey has had to learn how to run a football team from scratch really.. He spent his time learning how to be a shyster lawyer and poker player then running a football team came along later and lately he’s been doing a darned good job in my book. He gambled and got a royal flush so who can say he’s done rotten lately? He’s learned from his past follies and is redeeming himself.. If this team manages to win a couple of Superbowls under Mikey he’ll be hailed as the greatest team owner since Bob Kraft… I’m beginning to actually like Mikey and as far as Carson Palmer, I wish him all the success in the world except when playing the Bengals and then I hope he collapses like a house of cards made of silky underwear.

  11. By mwindle1973 on Oct 24, 2011 | Reply

    You know something that hasn’t been touched on this season is the status of Keith Rivers. Not the status of his injury, but the status of his playing time when he comes back. Rivers is a solid player, yet in my opinion he has never quite developed into what would constitue the 9th overall pick in the draft. While Maualuga has garned a lot of attention for his improvement after moving to the middle, Howard is actually the best performing LB right this season. What complicates it right now is Howard is also the best coverage LB, with B Johnson right behind him, and then Rivers. So I’m having trouble seeing where he fits in. They could platoon them bringing in Rivers on run downs. But is better on those downs than Howard? I think that when it comes to the run Rivers gains in strength and coming off blocks, Howard gains in intelligence, pursuit angles and speed. Perhaps you could play him at MIKE in the Nickel, but is he better in coverage than B Johnson who they are using in that spot right now?

  12. By jengal3 on Oct 25, 2011 | Reply

    Totally off topic: At the end of week 7, do you find it interesting that the entire AFC North make up the top Total Defensive best of NFL? I know the abberration of the game between Cleveland and Seattle put Cleveland in the mix, but it’s still something. Which says to me the AFC North will be decided by offense. I think that gives Pittsburgh the edge, but neither they or the Ravens or have been consistent or dominant.

    I think the Bengals have a shot.

  13. By mwindle1973 on Oct 27, 2011 | Reply

    @jengal3: The Browns are a legit top 10 D. They’ve been in the top 10 most of the season, and we know have 6 games to go off of. They are #1 in pass D. In fact the strength of the AFC North Ds is in their pass Defense, with the 4 teams at #1, 2, 4 & 5 right now. But when you flip it and look at the rushing D only the Ravens and us rank in the top 10 at #3 & 5. The Browns are ranked 20th, and Pitt 12th. Us and the Ravens are the only 2 teams in the league to be in the top 5 in both pass and rush D. But overall I think if you look at it the Bengals, Ravens, Jaguars, Ravens & Steelers are all playing great D, and seem to have a leg up on the rest of the league, with us and the Ravens seeming to seperate ourselves just a little from the pack. Let’s hope we can keep this trend up as we begin to move in to a little more difficult part of our schedule.

  14. By bengalpirate on Oct 28, 2011 | Reply

    I think I believe that the true measure of how good the 2011 edition of the Bengals is, is how they do in a West Coast road game. Especially in a loud and roaring stadium like the Seahawk’s. Quite honestly, the most recent Bengals teams that won playoff games, won at least one West Coast road game. Even though the Seahawks record is “only” 2-4, they want to win this game badly and if the team plays like they did on the road in Denver, Seattle will win. This is a road trap game and the team needs to find a way to win. If they do and then maybe steal a win in Nashville next week, then I think I believe we will know how good this team is, or isn’t. Who Dey!!!

  15. By mwindle1973 on Oct 28, 2011 | Reply

    @bengalpirate: I think I believe you are right. To me, because Denver is almost as far as the west coast and with the altitude disadvantage added in, it is like going to the west coast. So we had a similar test earlier in the season that we fell just short of passing. We will get a good look at how far we have come since then. Seattle may be 2-4, but like you said, they are a tough team. It’s always tough playing any NFL team. But Seattle is probably the loudest stadium in the league now, and from Cincy it’s about as far as we travel to play. If we can go all the way out there and take care of business against them, after a bye week, that is an accomplishment. But were at that point kind of. Is this going to be an up and down, ever shifting momentum, around 8-8 type season? Or do we keep growing and moving forward and controlling some games, with 10+ wins?

  16. By mwindle1973 on Oct 28, 2011 | Reply

    I think I believe that I’m pretty interested to see Adam Jones in action. I firmly believe based on his play last year. Had he not had his injury he would have been challenging for a starting position this training camp. And some of the things he was overcoming like playing disciplined and not freelancing, using better technique, etc, he was able to keep working on while he was rehabbing this summer and early fall. And I think by this point he is probably in game shape or close to it. You never know in these situations, but I really believe that he will become an impact player for us from the Nickel and on STs this year. Only time will tell, but I know this Sunday when Jones comes out on the field, Reggie Nelson will be the 2nd best athelete on the D.

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