Carson Palmer To Tennessee: Paul Kuharsky, Are You Serious?

Well, we now know that what Jeff Fisher wants most of all is a quarterback from USC. (What he wanted SECOND most of all was a running backs coach from USC, and we see how that worked out.) Why? Not just because he spent five years pouting over not getting to draft Matt Leinart in 2006 (and in my personal opinion, working to undermine the QB that his team actually did draft ever since) but because his longtime personal agent and director of public relations - excuse me, ESPN blogger/reporter Paul Kuharsky - floated the idea, then promoted the idea, and came back promoting it again to debunk the people who protested that it was a bad idea. Come to think of it, Kuharsky's PR/agent skills are in overdrive right now, as he is also providing cover for Jay Cutler (for the millionth offseason in a row ... oh gee, I wonder why some Nashville-based QBs can't do wrong with this guy while others can't do right). Now one could go on and on about the Jay Cutler thing, or about the fact that Jeff Fisher's using Nashville media guys (like Kuharsky) to publicize his own ideas and schemes so that he never has to be publicly held accountable for them himself (a guy doesn't become the longest tenured coach in the NFL despite presiding over debacle after debacle by accident) but why not go ahead and point out why bringing Carson Palmer to Nashville is a bad idea.

1. Carson Palmer is 31 years old. He has five or six good years MAX.

2. Not only is Carson Palmer 31 years old, but his body is totally shot, which means that he may not even have five or six good years left. Not only has he taken a pounding behind those notorious Cincinnati offensive lines, but he has never been the same since that horrific knee injury OR since his not quite as dramatic but very serious elbow injury on his throwing arm. When Palmer came into the NFL, he had amazing arm strength as well as very good mobility for a dropback passer. Thanks to the knee injury and the elbow injury, Palmer is just average to above average in both departments. Add that to the battering that the rest of this body has taken, and he is never going to perform at a Pro Bowl level again.

3. Carson Palmer: zero career playoff victories. And he is expected to perform better here why? Before you protest "He plays for the Bengals" I will respond "Give me the evidence that the Titans have been a better run organization that has fielded more talented teams since Jeff Fisher joined the front office and particularly since Floyd Reese was scapegoated/fired." If Palmer wasn't a difference-maker for a bad Bengals franchise/organization when he was in his prime, he won't be for the Titans.

4. But can't the franchise improve when they get rid of Fisher and his backers? Yes, but why stick the replacement with the QB that the previous coach/regime wanted? You might say that the same applies to the QB that Jeff Fisher drafts. Well, not really. Whoever the Titans' draft, it is expected that he will be the QB for the next 10-15 years if he is taken in the 1st or 2nd round (especially first). But acquiring Carson Palmer, who won't come free or cheap (he has a big contract and will take a draft pick to acquire, that is unless the Bengals are willing to trade straight up for Vince Young) would merely be a gambit for the Titans' to win now in order to save Jeff Fisher's job. The Titans should not give up draft picks and take on big veteran contracts in order to give Jeff Fisher "one last shot."

5. The evidence that Carson Palmer would be effective in Nashville: zero. Keep in mind, Palmer even in his prime owed a lot of his success to playing with receivers like Chad OchoCinco Johnson, T.J. Houshmanzadeh, the late Chris Henry (and please note that the Bengals' haven't been nearly as explosive since the other troubled West Virginia product died) and so on. Say what you want about the Bengals, they have always had the philosophy of acquiring and stockpiling as much talent at WR, TE, and RB as possible. And Palmer would go from that type of skill talent in Cincinnati to throwing to Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Lavelle Hawkins, Justin Gage, Bo Scaife, Jared Cook, Craig Stevens, Damian Williams etc. Basically Palmer would go from being around the most talented skill players in the NFL to a bunch of guys who can't beat out Jordan Shipley.

Granted, one can make the case that a lot of these guys aren't going to be on the roster next season. Fine: who are the Titans going to replace them with? A better question: do you honestly believe that Jeff Fisher can go out and get the type of talent at WR that Carson Palmer needs - guys who can run routes, get separation, and make plays downfield consistently - and do so in the few years that Palmer has left? If he can do it now, why couldn't he do it before?

Don't get me wrong. Carson Palmer was a potential Hall of Fame talent ruined by the Bengals organization. Had he gone to a better franchise, he'd be mentioned as right up there with the other top QBs in the NFL. But facts are facts. Palmer won't produce in Nashville, he particularly won't produce with Nashville's wide receivers, and he especially won't produce in an organization coached and run by Jeff Fisher. The only reason to pretend otherwise is if you have this belief that the Titans are a dropback passer - any competent dropback passer - away from contending from the Super Bowl, instead of being a team that has serious issues on both sides of the ball that needs about 3 years of good front office moves (drafts and free agency) to fix.

We know that Jeff Fisher has this belief, which is why Fisher continued to declare the Titans to be a Super Bowl contender until well into that 0-6 start in 2009. But people who aren't Jeff Fisher know that this team needs WRs and TEs that can get open catch, interior OLs that can pass and run block, DLs that can stay healthy and play, LBs that can make plays, and can do a lot better than they have in two of the four DB spots. Sure, sign Carson Palmer and the Titans make the playoffs a couple of years (but only because the AFC South stinks ... Indianapolis is crumbling and Jacksonville and Texas are what they are) and Jeff Fisher's playoff record goes from 5-6 to 5-8. Whoopee! But do not delude yourselves: that is all that it would accomplish (and that is the ceiling mind you). And the reason for this is that the Titans won't be as talented as the other teams, including at QB, where San Diego, Pittsburgh, the Jets, Baltimore, New England and Indianapolis won't be starting passers that their organizations have allowed to be battered into lunch meat.

What the Titans need is a cheap veteran QB to keep them respectable (not really) while their new QB is acquired from the draft and developed. An alternative: trading for a QB developed by another team like Jacksonville did for Mark Brunell years ago and Kansas City did for Matt Cassel. But Carson Palmer? The only reason for it is that he is the guy that Jeff Fisher wants. Which, of course is why Paul Kuharsky is promoting it.

Acquire Carson Palmer, and you will have a guy who A) can no longer sidestep pass rushers as he once did because of his knee injury and B) can no longer rifle the ball to covered WRs as he once did because of his elbow injury and put him with a VERY bad wide receiver situation and an interior OL with protection (and run-blocking) issues. Keep in mind: a major reason why the Titans have been as effective as they have been (which isn't a whole lot) the past few years has been their having a dual threat QB, which alters a defense's coverage and blitz strategies. Yes, Kerry Collins has come in from time to time and had success, but only because it takes NFL teams awhile to adjust to lineup changes during the regular season (playoffs are a different story). But give the teams that play the Titans an entire offseason to prepare for a QB who can't scramble anymore (let alone run), no longer has elite arm strength, and has a WR corps that is basically Kenny Britt and a bunch of backups, and you will basically have the beginning of the 2008 season all over again.

Why anyone expects any different is a mystery. If you have bad players, why expect anything else but bad results? Yes, Jeff Fisher is no different. Instead, with Jeff Fisher the problem is that he refuses to acknowledge that these players are bad because he drafted them! Which is why we spend entire offseasons hearing about how great Lavelle Hawkins is, and how Javon Ringer is SO MUCH BETTER than LeGarrette Blount. I still wonder if Jeff Fisher regards Jason Babin as "a better value" than Julius Peppers (another nugget passed onto us via Kuharsky, who predicted that Peppers would bomb and be the ire of irate fans in Chicago by now ... oh yeah he also predicted that Lovie Smith would be fired and replaced by Mark Heimerdinger, who would go about the task of saving Jay Cutler's career by now too ... oh the stuff that guy gets away with saying at ESPN that would never fly if he were covering any other division than the AFC South and its small market teams).

Look, whether Kuharsky wants to face it or not, Jeff Fisher is going to be fired. The question is whether the Titans will be stuck with Carson Palmer when it  happens. Folks who want the Titans to be competitive should want the answer to be NO.

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