Against better judgement (ok, I’m too lazy to change stations that early in the morning), I’ve listened to WFAN’s new morning duo of Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton a few times. While I’m not about to nominate either for a Marconi Award this early, there’s something a little surprising about the degree to which Carton is carrying the show. Newsday’s Neil Best is amongst those struck by the timidity of the former Bengals/Jets QB.

When a caller told Carton (above) he was an “idiot” and Carton called him one back, Esiason said, “I am not going to call our callers idiots.”

When Carton was on a riff about the benefits of workplace porn or some such thing, Esiason said, “I find you offensive right now.”

Later, Esiason pulled a verbal punch as he discussed Isiah Thomas making a distinction between a certain offensive word aimed at black women based on whether it came from a black or white man.

Esiason said he found Thomas’ thinking to be . . . [long pause] … “problematic.”

Problematic! Whoa. Can you say that on radio?

The X-factor is Carton, who comes off as a less dangerous version of Sid Rosenberg, a live wire with a distinctive voice – the chatty wise guy who keeps everyone entertained as long as he lives on the edge and doesn’t fall off of it.

Carton even has shown a journalistic streak, prying newsworthy quotes out of Jim Fassel Wednesday, as well as a touch for literate but blunt observations. He compared A-Rod to Achilles, an “imperfect superhero with two little problems: One of them is October and the other is blonde strippers.”

This could work, given enough time, assuming Esiason doesn’t get tired (literally) of getting up at 4 a.m. and of the dominant force of Carton’s personality.

It would help if he stopped deferring. During a discussion of the Thomas trial, he started interviewing Carton about his opinions rather than expressing his own.

The closest he got to controversy was a sarcastic line about being a misunderstood “former Norwegian quarterback,” a shot at Donovan McNabb for saying blacks at the position face greater scrutiny.