Rankings in the NFL are what this time of year is all about, with outlets looking for content and there being almost no real football news happening. So I came across this latest analysis piece by Mike Sando about the starting quarterbacks across the league, and noticed that Carson Palmer — through a system ranked by scouts, GMs and coaches — was tied for 21st among starters in the NFL’s “third-tier” of QBs.
You can debate this all you want. Obviously Palmer isn’t considered among the top QBs in the game anymore. That’s understandable. (Interestingly enough, he tied with Rams QB Sam Bradford on the list, who has questions about him for different reasons.) It’s fair to wonder about what Palmer can still bring to the table, although after watching he and the Cardinals wind their way through the first year in Bruce Arians’ offense, I think the hiccups he had last year can be explained — and improved upon.
As the season progressed (and as noted in the article), Palmer’s production rose (10 TD, 14 INT in the first eight games, 14-8 in the second eight — and that included the brutal 1-4 day during the big win in Seattle, that included Palmer’s clutch game-winning TD toss to Michael Floyd). That came as the offensive players all started to understand the playbook better and as Arians began to understand his chess pieces a little bit better.
I think it is noteworthy too how much Palmer stressed the comfort level for everyone in the offense now. In the year I have known him, he is mostly low-key in all his comments but when it comes to talking about the offense, he isn’t prone to hyperbole. He was very cautious last offseason about where the team was, and those brakes were not nearly applied as much this offseason. He also should have a better offensive line, especially at left tackle. That too will matter.
At his age and with what he has done, he’s not going to climb lists such as Sando’s. He is not the long-term guy for the Cardinals either, and everyone knows that too. But one last thing caught the eye in Sando’s Palmer write-up and it was a comment from a veteran player (although rankings did not include players’ thoughts). ” He is a tough guy,” an anonymous safety said. “I respect his game and his work ethic.” I think that feeling pervades the Cardinals’ locker room. I think Palmer is exactly the kind of leader the team needed at QB — and it’s the kind of leader you cannot be unless your teammates believe in you in the first place.
Tags: Carson Palmer
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