It’s hard enough for NFL teams to come up with a quarterback who can carry their playoff hopes — just ask the Arizona Cardinals.
But after the Bengals lost Carson Palmer to a ripped-up knee last week, it just underscored how hard it is to keep a quarterback around, even if you find a "franchise" guy.
Palmer’s status for the beginning of 2006 is in doubt, especially after his surgeon, Dr. Lonnie Paulos, told the Associated Press that Palmer’s ligament tears were "off the chart . . . shredded is the better term."
While Paulos said he was still optimistic Palmer will recover, there are no guarantees how quickly that will happen. At least Palmer was basically an immobile quarterback; Daunte Culpepper often ran and since he tore his own knee ligaments around midseason the Vikings don’t know when Culpepper will return or how he will play.
Ripped-up knees aren’t career-enders like once upon a time. But miracles rarely happen. When a player first returns from major knee problems, he is clearly not his former self.
Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin never felt he was 100 percent in 2004 after knee surgery kept him out six regular season games and most of training camp, and it showed this year when he was totally healthy.
Former Cardinals defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch exploded with 12 1/2 sacks for Tennessee this season, after admitting that in 2004 with Arizona, he simply couldn’t make the plays he was used to making following major knee surgery in 2003.
It will certainly be a long offseason in Cincinnati waiting for Palmer’s rehabilitation and praying the Bengals’ resurgence doesn’t get sidetracked after it barely got off the ground.
In late December, with the Jets’ season long a disaster, center Pete Kendall acknowledged he thought there was something to constant rumors that coach Herman Edwards might bail on the Jets to coach the Kansas City Chiefs — despite Edwards repeatedly telling his team and the world he wasn’t going anywhere.
"Will I lose my breath or take a big gasp if the coaching situation changes?" Kendall said. "No."
The one-time Cardinal always was a perceptive guy, especially when Edwards jumped to the Chiefs last week. Strangely, there seemed to be little outcry about how Edwards orchestrated his exit — which really, since in large part it was because he felt underpaid — seemed a lot like what Terrell Owens did to the Eagles. Owens’ complaints just played out in public.
Perhaps there were legitimate reasons why Edwards wanted out, although we won’t know. Edwards declined to talk about what happened in New York. As a result, the situation has left some disappointed in Edwards, a guy who has always been well-liked across the league.
PORTER POPS OFF
Steelers linebacker Joey Porter ripped the Colts’ offense this week, basically calling them wimps prior to their meeting in a playoff game today.
"They don’t want to just sit there, line up and play football," Porter said. "They want to try to catch you off guard. They don’t want to play smash-mouth football, they want to trick you. . . . They want it to be a thinking game instead of a football game."
That may be true, but it was good enough for Indianapolis to have arguably the most deadly offense in the league, good enough to beat Pittsburgh, 26-7, already this season.
Funny how the toughest talk — at least, in public — always seems to come from the underdog?
• Bears quarterback Rex Grossman, on the fact that three peers from the 2003 draft class — Carson Palmer, Byron Leftwich and Chris Simms — were bounced in their first playoff game, which Grossman will play in today: "They didn’t play very well. It’s as simple as that."
• Vikings coach Brad Childress, on changing his team’s poor reputation: "If it is good for you and it is right, do it with great vigor and great enthusiasm. If it is bad for you, you had better jump away from it like it is hot lava, and you had better head in the other direction. I just expect guys to do the right thing."
• Giants coach Tom Coughlin, after Tiki Barber blamed coaching for the Giants’ playoff loss: "I was upset because in the true concept of team it’s not about pointing the finger. We’re all in this together, and that’s the way it shall remain."
• Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden didn’t completely dismiss a rumor that Tampa Bay might try to sign receiver Terrell Owens when the Eagles finally cut T.O., but the Bucs will have to clear cap space to pull off such a signing.
• Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme is 4-1 as a playoff starter, with a spectacular passing rating of 105.1. His only loss was to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
• The Colts lost just 16 games by starters because of injury. Denver lost just 10 games, Pittsburgh 16. The Cardinals, by contrast, lost 83.
• Pittsburgh: Took out its new big rival in Cincinnati. But do they have enough to topple the Colts on the road?
• Carolina: Panthers RB DeShaun Foster is playing with a bad turf toe, but he has rushed for 165 and 151 yards the past two games.
• Darrell Bevell: Chaparral High School graduate and one-time Rose Bowl-winning QB at Wisconsin is the new Vikings offensive coordinator.
• Houston: No pressure. The Texans just have to figure out if they want to pass on local boy QB Vince Young or RB Reggie Bush in the draft.
• Buffalo: With Mike Mularkey quitting, the Bills are in complete disarray.
• Reggie Williams: Jaguars receiver has a terrible year, his team gets bounced from the playoffs, and then he gets caught with marijuana by police.