The last Heisman Trophy winner to don No. 9 for the Cincinnati Bengals thinks Joe Burrow is the right man to lead them back to prominence.
After watching Burrow become the first rookie QB to throw for 300-plus yards in three straight games, Carson Palmer believes the young QB will break many more records in Cincy.
"I hope he does and I think he will," Palmer told Geoff Hobson of the team's official website. "He's playing at a much higher level than I can remember a rookie playing.
"Man, I enjoy watching him play. He's been spectacular. ... I had high expectations for him like everybody has and through four weeks I think he's exceeded those expectations and played better than anyone had hoped."
Palmer started 13 games during his second year in Cincinnati after sitting out his entire rookie season, completing 60.9 percent of 432 passes for 2,897 yards, 18 TDs and 18 INTs as the Bengals went 6-7 in those tilts. Burrow is on pace to smash those stats.
In his second year as a starter, Palmer was scorching, leading the Bengals to an 11-5 record and earning a Pro Bowl bid. The infamous brutal knee injury on his first pass in the playoffs against the Steelers that year changed the course of his history. After eight seasons, Palmer soured on the franchise and demanded a trade, ultimately going to Oakland.
Palmer hopes Burrow can finally get the Bengals over a playoff hump neither he nor any other QB since 1991 has been able to accomplish.
"I hope he can do what I didn't do," Palmer said. "I love the fans in Cincy. I want them to see their dreams and get what they want. They're as loyal as any fans in the country."
As good as Burrow has been, Palmer knows it's a long road through 16 games, and the rookie will have his bumps and bruises along the way. As he did, Palmer believes Burrow can lead Cincinnati to the playoffs within two years of his debut, if they continue to improve around the young quarterback.
"You have to slow down when you get excited about a young quarterback next year," he said.
"The Browns are still the Browns. Maybe it's early in the season, but I trust my eyes. You don't know what you've got in Baker (Mayfield), but you know what you've got in Joe. The issue is Baltimore," Palmer continued, conspicuously leaving out any mention of Pittsburgh. "They can still get in the playoffs next year in the Wild Card if you're the Bengals."
The Bengals have offensive weaponry surrounding Burrow. Now they need to protect the quarterback moving forward or risk perpetual injury or worse.
"He doesn't need a big-time No. 1 and a heavily paid No. 2 and a big-time tight end," Palmer said of Burrow. "You protect that guy and give him a chance to do what he does best, which is throw guys open and throw with accuracy and take off and run, it's exciting what they can build there."