Bengals will struggle until Palmer finds timing

Something is missing in Cincinnati. An element that used to make the passing game successful is now lacking. What it is exactly, I don’t know. And I’m not sure the Bengals really know, either.

I spent the final minicamp of the offseason and about 12 days of training camp with the Bengals, and it was evident then that something was amiss with Carson Palmer. It was a question in my mind after about four days of practices.

Palmer is a pure pocket passer who is out of rhythm and throwing the ball inconsistently. The truth is, he’s been throwing that way since training camp. When you’re a pure pocket passer, you’re essentially throwing from the same position on nearly every snap. If you’re lacking your rhythm or timing, or both, you won’t be a successful passer. It’s the way it is. Watching tape and seeing Palmer first-hand, I see something is missing.

But the real question is, what?

I wonder if what is missing is true leadership. Maybe the team is lacking a voice of reason, so to speak, who had been there in the past but is no longer present. If you ask yourself who the leader of the Bengals offense is, I’m not sure there’s an answer. The default answer is Palmer, but he’s not a vocal person. He’s not vocal in practice, so he won’t be during games.

We know Palmer threw the ball well from 2005-07, and during that period when he was throwing well the Bengals had someone whom I thought was their best leader in a while in T.J. Houshmandzadeh. As soon as Houshmandzadeh left, the dynamic changed, the leadership role was pushed in other directions. I’m not sure anyone else has accepted that role.

Leadership is always prevalent for a football team. If you’re a leader, you’re a leader in practice, in games, in the weight room and during meetings. I think it really shows. It shows in practice and it definitely shows in games. Until someone really accepts and embraces that role, I don’t see that anything will change.

If Palmer can’t find his rhythm, the offense will continue to struggle. Hopefully, if you’re a Bengals fan, it’s something that can be corrected in the next few weeks.

— Rod Woodson

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