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Only in America…Only in America can a top-notch talent like Carson Palmer be written off as a has-been. Yeah I said it, TOP NOTCH! I thoroughly believe that Carson has all the tools to be a top 10 QB even at this stage of his career. I mean who else could be on possibly the worst assembled talent in football and still put up comparable numbers to guys inside of said top 10?
The 2012 Raiders were a rag-tag bunch of athletes put together by throwing darts it seemed. After a respectable showing in 2011 where the Raiders finished 8-8 for the second consecutive year. Long time owner Al Davis passed away and left the team to his son Mark. Instead of building upon what seemed like a budding offensive juggernaut (11th in passing, 7th in Rushing, 9th overall) with a mid-season acquisition of former Cincinnati Bengal Carson Palmer, (who was reunited with a former Bengal offensive assistant and then Raider head coach Hue Jackson) – the new owner blew the team up in an attempt to mold it to his own liking.
Gone were first year head coach Hue Jackson and all of his assistants on offense and defense. Also gone were the schemes that fit the type of talent possessed on the Raiders roster. A roster built on size, power and speed. Power on the line of scrimmage and speed on the edges. A scheme that needed a big arm QB with the ability to attack down-field to the fastest group of receivers in the league.
2012 should have been the season to retool the defense that had largely let the team down the previous season. Instead, what ensued was utter chaos! The new coaches brought in a zone blocking scheme/quick hitting passing game that didn’t mesh at all with the personnel. The team took a major step back and only achieved victory 4 times. As I studied the film – it didn’t take long to realize that the new coaching staff were in over their collective heads. The Raiders couldn’t get out of their own way! They had a ton of big plays nullified by penalty. Receivers often ran the wrong routes or simply let balls bounce off their hands for turnovers.
To be fair – it seems as though Palmer wasn’t on top of his game at times as well. A lot of that can be put on the lack of talent he was surrounded with, meshed with a scheme that didn’t suit his strong points as a quarterback. Regardless – Palmer threw 22 touchdowns (Good for 15th in the league) as opposed to 14 interceptions, for 4,018 yards (10th). This earned him an 85 quarterback rating (16th). These are very respectable numbers given the situation he was in. Being on a team that is picking 3rd in the draft yet having all your numbers be in the upper tier says a lot about his football acumen.
In typical Oakland Raider fashion, instead of building upon the positive – they opt to get rid of what little talent that remained and blow the offensive scheme up once again. A team that’s clearly in a rebuilding phase with the new management/ownership – determined that Palmer wasn’t apart of future plans as they attempt a youth movement. The team finalized a trade for Palmer to the Arizona Cardinals in an attempt to unload his salary. What I think will ensue is a match made in heaven.
As an Atlanta Falcons season ticket holder I was privileged to see some great football in the 2012 season. The Falcons firmly established themselves as a force to be reckoned with by garnering the best record in the league. A high-flying pass attack that’s only duplicated by a couple of other teams.
When the Arizona Cardinals came to town – it was expected to be a blowout as the Cards were in the midst of a long losing streak. What happened was exactly what I expected…A ferocious Cardinal defense out-muscled the Falcons and forced 5 Matt Ryan interceptions. Falcons fans were stunned. All except me. I know the Cards to have one of the most talented defensive rosters in the game. They are loaded in the front 7 with tons of depth. They have a budding superstar at corner in Patrick Peterson to anchor the back-end. But with all the talent you can imagine on defense, it still wasn’t enough to get the victory over the Falcons. The Cards only managed to put up 19 points off 4 field goals and one long TD run by LaRod Stephens-Howling. The Falcons managed only 23 points. To force that many turnovers and lose, lends itself to one thing. Ineptness on offense! A combination of John Skelton and rookie Ryan Lindley managed only 60 yards passing….TOTAL! It was the worst QB play I had ever seen live. All world receiver Larry Fitzgerald had one catch for 11 yards in an extremely disappointing outing. You got the feeling if the Cards had just an average QB they would have blown the Falcons out big time.
Well guess what? They now have that and then some! Carson Palmer is the perfect fit for new Cardinals coach Bruce Arians down-field passing attack. Last season Arians oversaw the Colts as an interim Head Coach/offensive coordinator. All he did was take a team that won 2 games the previous year and led them to the playoffs with a rookie QB of his own in Andrew Luck, who subsequently broke the rookie passing yardage record. Couple Arians system with Palmer, who by the way also came to Atlanta and gave the Falcons all they could handle on defense. (To the tune of 22/33 completions for 353 yards 10.7 yards per completion, 1 TD and 1 Int) and I truly believe you have the renaissance of what should’ve been a superstar career for Carson Palmer.
It wasn’t that long ago that Carson Palmer and his upstart Bengals team were dubbed the new greatest show on turf. Led by Palmer who at the time was the best deep ball thrower in the NFL, and a set of young, explosive, offensive talent. In a division, nonetheless, with two teams that were perennial Super Bowl contenders in the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Two teams known for great defenses and physical play.
Fast forward to the present day NFC West, where the Cardinals reside, and you have two teams that look to be perennial contenders of their own. The Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers respectively. Palmer is used to playing against top notch defenses on a weekly basis and putting up great numbers. In Arizona he has the chance to have a good defense to back him up. Paired with more offensive talent then he’s ever been apart of. This can truly be the start of something great.
Bruce Arians will take advantage of Palmer’s strengths which remain throwing the ball down the field with great velocity and accuracy. Only Joe Flacco, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers throw it better in that aspect in my humble opinion. I also can’t think of a better downfield receiver over the past decade than Larry Fitzgerald who seems to rise above the lack of talent in Arizona over the years until last season where he had career low numbers across the board. Budding tight end Rob Housler, receivers Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts, running backs Rashard Mendenhall and Ryan Williams, all form one of the most explosive rosters of offensive talent seen across the league. And Carson Palmer is just the QB to exploit all of that talent….Trust me.