Is Palmer the problem with stagnant passing game?

Winning “ugly” might not be enough for the 2-1 Cincinnati Bengals.

As the Bengals offense continues to sputter, the reasons why remain a mystery. A lack of answers and a sense of bubbling frustration recently led to an annoyed head coach Marvin Lewis, who had to defend QB Carson Palmer after a volley of questions over the offensive concerns.

“Not too many teams have to make excuses for winning like that, but I guess we do. So we’ll just move forward, and I’ll say little, our players will say less, and that’s the way it will be.”

As it stands, Palmer is in the eye of the firestorm. Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski acknowledged Palmer “didn’t play well” against the Panthers but said he needed more help from the offense around him. Geoff Hobson called it Palmer’s worst passing day in two years during an extended look at the ongoing issues.

Although we haven’t heard a peep from Chad Ochocinco or Terrell Owens, last week it was Cedric Benson who voiced frustration (per Joe Reedy) over the offense deviating from what worked last season.

Whew. Just think if the Bengals were 0-3.

This was supposed to be the season Palmer had no excuses after adding a bevy of weapons. So does he? Is the problem with the Bengals’ offense … Palmer?

Although Lewis told reporters he doesn’t have any concerns about Palmer, one voice at the NFL Network — Michael Lombardi — says he’s does.

“You watch the tape, there are huge concerns with Carson Palmer,” Lombardi said. “He’s not nearly the player he was three years ago. His arm doesn’t seem to have the same zip to it. He doesn’t have the accuracy with the football, and he’s not as explosive. Right now he’s a liability in the Cincinnati offense.”

Maybe Palmer isn’t, or no longer is, who we thought he was. Maybe the problems hide elsewhere. It doesn’t appear to be panic-button time in Cincinnati, but we’ll continue to take the temperature of this story as Lewis circles the wagons around his quarterback.

— Frank Tadych

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