Healthy Carson Palmer makes Arizona a contender

Why the Cardinals are a Super Bowl contender with their starting QB back healthy.

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Healthy Carson Palmer makes Arizona a contender

On the Arizona Cardinals’ second drive of their preseason game versus the San Diego Chargers Saturday night, Carson Palmer connected on passes of 57, 14 and 17 yards, as he quickly drove the team downfield for the first score of the evening.

Palmer didn’t even play all of the first quarter of the preseason matchup, and those were his only three completions, but his ability to make the throws that no other quarterback on the Arizona roster can make is what sets the team up as a legitimate Super Bowl contender entering 2015.

The Cardinals had a solid 2014 season, finishing 11-5 before losing in the wild card round of the playoffs to the Carolina Panthers, with all five of those losses coming with Palmer out of the lineup. That’s not to say that Palmer was the main reason for all of the team’s victories when he was on the field and healthy, but his ability to make plays downfield gave the Cardinals something that they struggled with under Drew Stanton, and was essentially non-existent under Ryan Lindley.

When he was on the field in 2014, Palmer graded positively on throws 10 yards or more downfield, including throwing three touchdowns to zero interceptions on throws 20 yards downfield and beyond. We saw that on Saturday night, first hitting the speedy rookie J.J. Nelson down the left sideline for the longest gain, before two passes to John Brown, including the 17-yard score.

The Cardinals are a potential playoff team once again in 2015, and this is mainly because of their strength as a defense. But having a steady quarterback in Palmer — who may not be in the NFL’s elite group of quarterbacks, but is still a solid player at the position — gives them the balance they’ll need to survive in the NFC West and potentially make a postseason run.

| Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst

Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.

  • corners

    But isnt palmers biggest knack is he’s nothing in the playoffs? 11 seasons and hes only been to 2 playoff games.

    I know cardinals want to relive the dream(they deserved that SB against “stealers”), but Palmer is no Kurt Warner.

    • Bill Doerr

      Dude get lost …. Palmer has been on really bad teams most of his career , with not a lot of talent around him. Palmer took the Bengals who were the most moribund franchise in the NFL and had them in the playoffs when they had talent around and was playing extremely well.
      Now that Carson Palmer plays on a very talented team , he has played extremely well. His last 15 games he is 13-2 , his .767 winning percentage ranks as 3rd best in NFL over that time frame with the best being Manning, Brady, Palmer and Wilsons winning percentages. Over his last 13 games Palmer has the 2nd highest winning percentage ( .832 ) in the entire NFL. Over his last 15 games Palmer has thrown 29TDs-12INTs , completed 64%+ percent of his passes, thrown for 4400+ passing yards, has a VERY, VERY HIGH 68.9 QBR ( ESPN stat) and QB Passer Rating of 99.7….. Last season Palmer was on pace to throw for right at 29-31TDs with 9INTs , 64% completion percentage, 4500 passing yards, and had a 95.6 passer rating and very high 65.9QBR when he went down , after going undefeated in his starts leading AZ to a 9-1 start.
      This season Arizona’s roster is STACKED offensively , Palmer has a ARSENAL of weapons he can use in the pass game & not only that, but AZ’s offense is loaded with players with ELITE SPEED !!!!!! WR John Brown after having a sensational rookie season , has taken massive steps forward and literally been almost uncoverable in camp & straight up DOMINANT with his Elite 4.29-4.31 Speed and vastly improved excellent/crisp route running. AZ drafted the fastest WR at the combine in 5″11, now weighing 180 pound WR JJ Nelson with his elite world class 4.25 40 speed. Nelson has looked EXCELLENT in camp and has performed very, very well against #1 defenses and #1CBs burning them with speed for huge gains. Nelson is another mid round draft steal at WR Arians/Keim have drafted……. 6″2 1/2 225 pound very physical WR Michael Floyd ( Ranked as NFLs best blocking WR n 14) was looked extremely explosive having an excellent camp until dislocating 2 fingers. He will be back week 1 for the Sept 13th game. Floyd is a excellent , 1000K+ YARD WR w/ 4.41 speed all day long with Palmer at QB….. 6″3 220 pound WR Larry Fitzgerald is a STRAIGHT UP NIGHTMARE of a mismatch for opposing slot CBs playing in the slot. AZ also has 6″3 210 pound WR Jaron Brown ( Not John Brown ) who with his 4.39-4.41 speed is a very good WR as well , on most other teams not as stacked at WR he is a #2 quality WR. He will be getting a lot more playing time this season….. That is ONE HELL of a WR core unit.
      Arizona is much, much stronger at RB this year with a massively improved run blocking interior O-Line out in front blocking this season. Arizona drafted a very good very promising young RB in 6″2 225 pound n David Johnson, who at the combine was the top performer among RBs in every single measurable test w/ 4.45 speed n 41 1/2 inch vertical to name a few. He is a extremely polished route runner n excellent receiving RB on top of being a powerful between the tackles back that also has the elusiveness/speed to break outside runs for long gains. Many people have said he is a RB Matt Forte Clone & I agree. Against the Chargers #1 Defense , David Johnson carried the ball 13 times for 68 yards, averaging 5.1 Yards-Per-Carry, showing off how powerful of an inside runner he is just running guys over & breaking tackles, and also had 2 receptions for 15 yards. Ellington with his elite 4.38 speed and with his very rare explosive lateral speed n cutting ability is going to have a HUGE YEAR now healthy n now that he has a very good run blocking line. Ellington has looked extremely good & opening eyes all camp long both running n catching the ball , he had a 60 yard reception n 5YD TD run in week 1 Versus KC & last week for SD look very good with 2 carries for 15 yards, and 2 rec’s for 15 yards. Healthy I think Ellington easily will have a 1600+ yard from scrimmage season, he had 1100YDs from scrimmage in a down year last year in just 12 games n 1,000+YDs from scrimmage as a rookie. AZ has RB Chris Johnson as well as a backup who is still a very talented RB. I expect Johnsons role will be to help shoulder the load just a little bit to keep the top RBs fresh. AZ has two good backup RBs in Kerwynn Williams n Stephan Taylor behind him.
      The TE position has went from a question mark in OTAs to a position of strength by the time training camp came along!!!! AZ signed a very good TE in 3X Pro Bowl TE Jermaine Gresham this offseason. The 6″5 260 pound TE w/ his 4.55 40 speed , is a VERY good Receiving TE who can stretch the field whom also is a very good blocking TE….He gives Palmer yet another very dangerous pass catching target. AZ’s 6″7 270 pound TE Darren Fells Arians brought on a couple years prior started breaking out big time last season and coming on strong. Pro Football Focus ranked him the 17th best TE overall last season of the 137 that played n NFL last year. He is an excellent blocker , very good solid blocking TE but also has excellent very soft hands and is a excellent receiving TE. He stayed training all off season and has been dominant in camp its obvious he has taken a leap forward over the off-season.. Not only do both TEs make the run game even better but now Arians can start using 2 TE sets as receiving threats as well. AZ also has 2014 2nd round pick TE Troy Niklas who is both a great blocker n solid receiver who is coming along very nicely. Arizona also brought in 6″6 250 pound pure receiving TE I. Momah who has 4.4 speed who has been very , very impressive as a receiver who likely makes the team.
      Palmer has so many weapons it is borderline unfair. AZ most definitely paired with the elite offensive line protecting Palmer, easily have the most talented & deepest roster in the NFC-W. SEAs WR aren’t all that good at all . the only real pass catching threat they have that scares n e one is Jimmy Graham and their O-Line is hot garbage. Palmer has looked extremely sharp all preseason , id be willing to bet money he has a 30-32 TDs/ 12-14INTs , 65%+ completion percentage with a 97.0+ QB passer rating at minimum. Palmer was having a All-Pro/Pro-Bowl caliber season last year , this year I think he finishs it makes his 4th Pro Bowl n gets his second First Team All Pro honors

  • rxbandit

    What would make you think that he’d stay healthy with their OL, with Iupati already hurt?

    • Bill Doerr

      You act as if Mike Iupati is gone for the season…… He is only for 3 to 4 weeks being that hes alrealdy been out for a week , that’s only 2-3 weeks from now. All Iupati had done was knee scope , which is an extremely minor surgery , its the equivalent of having your teeth cleaned basically but for your knee. I have had it done and their was no pain , and the stiffness was gone in 6 days for me, and the little cuts they make healed in 2 weeks. Mike Iupati is a very tough player , he has played with a broken foot before and play a lot hurt, odds are by September 13th he will be 100% healthy or close to it and play , which is what the team expects. AZ has VERY solid backup OGs in last years starting LG Ted Larsen, only gave up 1 sack last year and is solid, and 3rd year player OG Earl Watford who is a beast. The odds are though Mike Iupati will play week 1 , week 2 most definitely.
      AZs Offensive-Line is now an extremely good O-Line. They only gave up 26 sacks last year and now have FAR SUPERIOR OG’s. AZ has an elite LT in 6″8 Jared Veldheer who only gave up 1 sack , and ranked as PFF’s 8th overall LT last year. At LG Arizona signed one of the NFLs best OGs in 6″5 330 pound Mike Iupati who is a outright BEAST. Despite coming off a broken leg from 2013 n playing on a broken foot for more than 50% of the season n 2014, Iupati ranked as PFFs 14th overall best OG and 2nd best RUN Blocking OG in NFL. Veldheer n Iupati are going to make a massive difference in AZs run game this year. AZ has a competition between two solid centers in AQ Shipley & Lyle Sendlein. Shipley ranked as the 13th best overall Center via PFF last season, giving up 0 sacks and ranking +2.0 pass pro & +4.5 run blocking. He has played very well so far in camp for AZ…. Center Lyle Sendlein played the entire season with a severe calf injury ( grade 3 calf tear suffered n camp) so while he only gave up 1 sack last season, he struggled run blocking because he couldn’t drive his power up thru his hips with his torn calf. Now healthy his run blocking is night and day. In 2013 Sendlein ranked as the 9th best run blocking Center in the NFL with a +9.5 run blocking grade, which is the kind of play AZ should get this season if he starts. Sendlein is a above AVG center and I expect him to be the starter.
      Arizona’s 2013 1st round 7th overall pick has looked and played like a beast all pre-season to long , looking borderline dominant but most definitely playing extremely well. Now that he is completely 100% healthy and over his leg injury suffered his rookie season, he is playing like the player AZ drafted. He looks more dominant by far than he did his rookie year when he looked so good until his injury. Cooper is showing the Power, Speed , Athleticism and Technique that got him drafted so highly and really looking good. This guy was thought to be the best OG to come out of College n the last 20 years when drafted and he is playing like it. He now looks like the guy AZ drafted. Cooper spent all off season at once of the best O-Line training camps in the country n O-Line performance all offseason, he lifted all offseason getting in incredible shape redefining his body and looks jacked. The 6″3 310 pound RG is going to have a very good season this year, being he knows the offense inside and out I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if he earns a Pro Bowl spot…. Next to RT is RT Bobby Massie who looked very good last year, playing like an above average RT but you could really see his potential. He is a mauling run blocker. Going into his 2nd season starting in Arians offense, now that he knows it, I think he will take leaps forward and have a really good season. Due to an Alcohol violation ( 1st offense ) he could face a maximum of 3 games suspension but the NFL has said for sure yet. If he said he will be appealing, in which case I suspect his suspension will be cut down to 1 or 2 games max , as almost every 1st time NFL offender has their suspension cut in half the 1st time in trouble unless they really screwed up…. Massie will be back very quickly though and is a very solid RT. AZ has solid backup OTs in RT Bradley Sowell (was AZs starting LT in 2013) & G/T Earl Watford , whoever wins is more than good enough to hold down the fort until Massie comes back. AZ has very good blocking TEs as well they can use to help chip at RT as well against top rushers if needed.
      Arizonas offensive line is absolutely LOADED this season. They just drafted 1st round tackle DJ Humphries as well who is their future LT & will eventually move Veldheer to RT. AZ will have 3 first round picks starting this season. Palmer is very good in the pocket and knows how to worked the pocket and gets rid of the ball quickly , I expect this linen to be one of NFLs best & give up 25 or less sacks.