Rejuvenated Carson Palmer leads NFC West title charge
Amidst the offensive struggles of the Seahawks and the rout of the 49ers by the Steelers, the Cardinals quietly lead the NFC West with a 2-0 record, due in large part to their rejuvenated quarterback, Carson Palmer.
Palmer currently ranks as our fourth-best QB this season, with a +6.2 grade; that feat is even more impressive when accounting for his sixth-fewest dropbacks among QBs (minimum of 25 percent snaps played). Through two weeks, he’s off to his best start of the PFF era.
Looking at his pass dispersion, he’s only connected on three of his 12 attempts traveling more than 20 yards in the air. However, inside that range, he’s been extremely efficient, racking up a cumulative +6.0 on 13 attempts from 10-19 yards (only one incompletion). While it’s not surprising for a right-handed QB, Palmer does seem to consciously avoid throwing to the left side of the field (only eight of 56 attempts), a trend defenses likely well aware of.
There’s been no significant change in the Cardinals’ pass-blocking efficiency metric from last season to this point, but Palmer is only one of two QBs who have a 0.0 percent sack rate (Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton is the other). And if you’re thinking it’s because of quick passes, Palmer’s 2.68 seconds per attempt is tied for the fifth-longest in the league.
Arizona uses play action on 25.9 percent of their passing plays; if they can get any semblance of a running game, it would make Palmer that much more dangerous, and possibly lead them to their first NFC West title in six years.