Hobson's Choice: Elbow Room

Q: Just wanted to ask why is it that we hear Carson is out for the season (like we didn't already know that) on ESPN rather than on the team's own website? And why is it that this organization, that we the fans have ownership in by continuing to buy merchandise and tickets, can't even get one honest word out of any of them? They have known Carson was done, why not announce it, get the surgery and move on? Why before the trade deadline did they not make any attempt to fill any of the gaping needs by some blockbuster deal to generate hope and excitement again? You know and I know, first-round picks are more times than not a waste of money, especially top picks like we're going to end up with. Who wants that pick? Top money for a hope and prayer!
--Bobby, Harrod, OH

BOBBY: Certainly not for lack of trying on the website's part. If you read Friday's stuff, I approached Carson on the issue and was politely rebuffed. I've tried his agents. Mort wrote the best story on the injury so far, but from what I can gather no final decision has been made on his status or surgery and the "likely done for the season" line is what has been speculated by everyone in their right minds (including yourself and this website) since he visited the Mets doctor Oct 13.

So why not announce he's having the surgery and move on?

Because there has been no decision if he'll have the surgery.

To say they've been dishonest about this I think is inaccurate. Cautious and secretive, yeah. But I dont think they've lied.

Really, Carson and Marvin have been more upfront about it than I thought they would. Especially since the last time they went through this on Palmer's ACL, when the surgeon said things in the media that disturbed Palmer and the club.

Granted, Carson hasn't said much since he came back from New York, but he outlined it pretty well after the Jets game. He'd like to rest it and avoid surgery all the while hoping to come back this year. We've been waiting for him to say more, but he hasn't because he doesn't know yet if the rest will do it or not. He said himself that would take a month or two.

I don't think the team has put out false information. What Marvin said Friday is accurate. I asked if he saw a scenario where Carson would play this year. He said, "Yes." No one believes they will risk him. Even you say everybody knows it. But I get the sense Marvin is being sensitive to Palmer's hope that he's not done and, to be fair to Marvin, there has been no final call.

Cautious? Diplomatic? Secretive? Sure. But I think that's a long way from lying and dishonesty. They've announced nothing because there's nothing to announce.

It's not as black and white as we wish. You've got a $130 million investment/team leader interspersed with a handful of medical opinions and a team that can't buy a win and wants nothing to do with a top five pick. That's lot of stuff that doesn't fit neatly into a two-paragraph press release.

You're right. A top pick is a death trap. Forget the top pick. The top five is a financial wasteland. And Nos. 6-10 are no bargains, either.

I'm not sure what they could have got at the trading deadline to inspire the kind of hope you're talking about. Jon Kitna? Been there, done that. Roy Williams? They can't get the ball to the guys who know the offense now. A left tackle? A pass rusher? A running back? If they're any good, they're virtually untouchable in midseason.

What I wanted to see was a definitive answer on T.J. Houshmandzadeh. If you're not going to extend him, then try to get something better than the third-round pick you're going to get as compensation. If you're not going to trade him, then sign him. They didn't do the former and haven't done the latter.

The fact they didn't shop Houshmandzadeh tells me they felt like they could make a run on offense with what they have. If there's one guy in the NFL that doesn't want a top five pick after Dan Wilkinson, Ki-Jana Carter, Akili Smith and Peter Warrick, it is Mike Brown. By the time they traded for somebody else for probably a comparable talent level and got them acclimated, the season is over.


Q: Obviously next year will bring some changes again. What do you predict these changes will be? It doesn't take a genius to figure out this OL doesn't function together well and lacks a leader. Will we bring in a vet, or just let these guys try to figure it out? Will Chad, TJ, and Levi be here next year? Also, what's the status of Kenny Irons? I just can't recall. Is he gone for good or just the season again? Do you see us picking up a RB or two?
--Matt W., South Vienna, OH

MATT: As the great Peter King says, in a bad season like this what people feel on Oct. 25 could be totally opposite on Dec. 25. So your guess is as good as mine but you don't have to be on the Dean's List to figure that the offensive side of the ball is going undergo massive scrutiny.

Does that mean players? Coaches? It all starts with No. 9 and No. 85 and everything else, I would think, is up for grabs. It's easier to change coaches than players. But that's not the Mike Brown Way. Of course, the last time they went through a season this bad the only thing that didn't get blown up were the offensive coaches. And after Mike changed his ways bringing in Marvin, I don't think you can say there is a Mike Brown Way any more.

They have to decide if they want to stick with this coaching staff before talking about players. And even though the offense is looking for all the world like it needs a massive overhaul, I don't see them getting rid of both Chad and T.J. I would think at least one stays and with Chad under contract ... but isn't it hard to imagine them without T.J.? It's also hard imaging them paying a 31-year-old receiver $9 million per year.

It's just too early to make these calls. Tell me who is going to be coaching, and what is Carson's health going to be, and then tell me who's going to win the Derby why you're at it.

You're right, I'm no genius and the offensive line has been a terrible disappointment. All I can tell you is they haven't run the ball with any kind of physicality, consistency, or effectiveness since center Rich Braham and right tackle Willie Anderson got hurt in 2006. That has to be the thesis from which they have to start the review. After extending left guard/tackle Andrew Whitworth at the beginning of the season and unable to secure franchise player right tackle Stacy Andrews long term, it's hard to see them re-signing Andrews. Also because they are extremely high on fourth-round pick Anthony Collins, a left tackle/guard. That could also impact Jones. They haven't re-signed center Eric Ghiaciuc at this point, either. So they have enough question marks to point to change.

No question they draft a running back. Maybe two. Look at the second- and third-rounders doing so well this year. The Bengals see one of them in Houston's Steve Slaton on Sunday. Certainly look for them to sign a free agent and if Cedric Benson keeps running hard I would think they would want to extend his one-year deal.

Kenny Irons has been released.

Will the Carson Palmer injury give everyone a mulligan? There were problems long before. This offense hasn't been right since the Pats goal-line interception at halftime on Oct. 1, 2007 and the pass protection has been brutal from the get-go this year. How many No. 1 QBs get their nose broken in preseason?

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