Originally written on The Sports Headquarters  |  Last updated 4/3/13
The trade is completed; and Carson Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals seem to both be happy with the match. While I am not keen on the idea of Palmer in Cardinal red, the price was cheap, the risk is low, and the reward is… well to be determined. What Carson Palmer brings to Arizona is a guy who is comfortable dropping back deep in the pocket, hitting his last step in the drop and getting the ball out. He can play with trash around his feet, but he isn’t a guy that is going to make people miss in or out of the pocket, so getting through his reads quickly and getting the ball out is imperative for him to have any success. The Good Vertical Fit- We all know that Bruce Arians wants to get the ball down the field in a vertical passing game, well Carson Palmer is a guy that can do that in spades. Palmer is comfortable attacking down field in the vertical game and showed the ability to still spot the ball well even when attacking deep. The stats aren’t very telling in 2012, as the Raiders were implementing a new offense that didn’t necessarily play towards the strength of Palmer, the Raiders brought in noted West Coast aficionado Greg Knapp to run the offense, going away from the high octane Al Saunders attack. In only ten 2011 games Palmer put up some insane numbers: 2753 yards  13 TDs 16 INTs and completed 60.7% . I know, those numbers don’t look spectacular, but remember that Palmer was AWFUL in his first two games in Oakland, if you take those games out his numbers become: 2305 yards 10 TDs 10 INTs while completing 63% of his passes. That’s not bad considering Palmer was playing with a new team and coming into a tough situation having not taken a snap yet in the season. The reason those 2011 numbers are so important is because that offense is similar in style to what the Cardinals will be running in 2013. The Raiders finished ninth in total yards per game, and despite only playing in ten games, Palmer accounted for nearly 70% of the passing yards the Raiders had that season. Going Deep- Arians has talked about attacking deep, leaving no tricks in the bag, and being able to go for the home run from any spot on the field, well Palmer can do that. In 2011, in only those ten games, Palmer went deep, 20 yards or more through the air, 50 times.  The Cardinals as a team in 2012 went deep 58 times. Of those 50 deep attempts Palmer completed 20, for 7 TDs, meanwhile in 2012 the Cardinals as a team completed 11 for 3 TDs. Arians will have this team looking to get the ball deep, and making plays downfield, the only question I have is who is going to be catching those passes, but that’s for another day. The Bad Arm isn’t what it used to be- When Palmer came into the league he was one of the guys who had an elite arm, someone who could “make all the throws” and was able to put the ball in spots few other quarterbacks could. Well he’s played for nine seasons, and had numerous bumps and bruises that have sapped some of that arm strength from him. I said it yesterday on Twitter, but the reality is many of the interceptions that Palmer threw over the last two seasons, 30 for those not counting, are not a result of errant throws like Cardinals fans are used too, not they are because Palmer still plays like has that elite arm. Palmer tries to fit too many balls into tight windows, resulting in an opportunity for the opponent to make a play on the ball. Palmer, much like Kurt Warner, is about timing and reads, and he’ll throw the ball to where a receiver is supposed to be, not where they are. Well, that can get him in trouble at times now because that extra zip he had on the ball isn’t there consistently anymore. In Palmer’s defense, the wide receivers in Oakland were none too enthusiastic about coming back to and fighting for the ball.  They were more comfortable looking to run under the ball, or wait for the ball to get to them so they could turn and run after the catch. Overall- There is a lot too be excited about as a Cardinals fan when it comes to Palmer. No, Palmer isn’t the elite thrower that he was in 2005 and 2006 when he was going to Pro Bowls and taking the Bengals to the playoffs, but he isn’t nearly as bad as he is being made out to be on the internet. Palmer can come in and take the Cardinals offense to another level, even with the offensive line as assembled. Palmer is a quarterback that gets the ball out quickly, in 2011 his time to attempt average, as calculated by the guys over at ProFootballFocus.com, was 2.47seconds, compared to Kevin Kolb at 2.76 seconds and John Skelton at 2.7 seconds. Palmer above the shoulders is still a special quarterback, and maybe a change of scenery and playing with a group of strong, big bodied wide receivers, back in a vertical attacking offense will play to his physical strengths again as a passer. The reality is that the Cardinals can’t go anywhere but up from a positional standpoint at quarterback, despite the steady play of Kolb in 2012 he can’t be trusted to stay healthy, and Palmer is the perfect bridge to the future… Now about that future.
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