Rejuvenated Carson Palmer leads NFC West title charge

Palmer and the Cardinals sit atop the NFC West, and will likely stay there if their QB can keep up this pace.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

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.

  • crosseyedlemon

    I’ve never considered Palmer to be among the elite QBs but Larry Fitzgerald is something special and he can give defensive units nightmares – as he did all day against the Bears.

  • Cris Collinsworth

    I am surprised at the zero sack number. I thought they had issues in protection when we saw them in preseason, and RT Bobby Massie is suspended. Jared Veldheer is having a strong year. They must be leaving him 1-1 and helping to the other side. They have a lot of weapons at the skill positions and that David Johnson has skills. He is also one of the most interesting stories I’ve heard. His family moved to a safer place and it has paid huge dividends for him.

    • Bill Doerr

      3X Pro Bowl/All Pro LG Mike Iupati who is one of the NFLs best OGs will be coming back from injury this week to play on Sunday as will starting RT Bobby Massie, who is a above average very solid RT. With an Elite LT in 6″8 325PD Jared Veldheer and 6″5 330 Pound Mike Iupati on that left side , that easily gives AZ one of the best top 3-4 LT/LG tandems in the NFL. At RG 1st round pick now healthy Johnathan Cooper is playing at a very high level and RT Massie is coming back. You have 3 First Round talents on that Line as Iupati and Cooper are 1st round picks , Jared Veldheer easily was a 1st round quality talent but being he went to a tiny College he slipped a little bit in the draft. Palmer now has a top 5 NFL O-Line in front Protecting him now though.
      The one thing I wonder though , is if the coach stay with RT Earl Watford . For making the switch from RG to RT and coming from a small school, he is playing EXTREMELY well , he has allowed 4QB hits n 5 pressures ( Zero Sacks) but with experience he will only get better and he already is an excellent much better Run Blocker than Massie, Watfords +3.7 run blocking grade is the 4th highest out of 70 ranked tackles. Watford has serious potential at RT , he has excellent feet quick enough to handle speed off the edge and has a lot of explosion thru his hips as a run blocker and has a very fast get off , him and Cooper well work together in tandem, and he will only get better with playing time. Either way, Palmer has a very talented line.

      • Bill Doerr

        SEAs Offensive Line is absolutely horrible though.

        Their best linemen is LT Russell Okung who is AT BEST Barely AVG!!! Okung has already given up 2 sacks and multiple pressures w/ PFF ranking him below AVG, & lets not forget he has never played a full season, extremely injury prone!! All the rest rank at or near the bottom with Britt ranking 69th out of 71 OGs at LG, their Center Drew Novak ranking 27th overall of 32 starting centers, RG JR Sweezy currently ranking 67th of 71 OGs , their RT Currently ranks 68th of 70 ranked OTs w/ a negative -11.4 grade ranking horribly against both the run and pass giving up 2 sacks and 10 pressures already…. SEAs run game is what makes their Offense go, yet SEA ranks as one of the worst if not the worst run blocking line in the NFL !!!! Beastmode has atleast 2-3 sometimes even 4 players drapped on him in the backfield the second he gets the hand off and has no chance…..Without a rungame that offense will absolutely fall apart!!!
        I find it HILARIOUS that Arizona’s backups are better than SEAs starters along their Offensive Line. AZs backup LG ranks 44th of 71OGs Ranked, while SEAs LG Justin Britt ranks 69th of 71 ranked. SEAs starting Center D. Nowak ranks 27th of 32 Centers. AZs backup RT Earl Watford ranks 42nd out of 70 tackles , ranks as 4th best run blocking OT, While SEAs starting RT G. Gilliam ranks 68th out of 70OTs ranked!!!!

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      • jlcon99

        Wasn’t Romo’s line the best… also? It only takes one mis-step by an O-lineman and a QB’s fortunes can change. It’s football, it’s why they play the games.

  • TheDeliLama

    Arizona has played two of the weakest teams in the league.
    Iupati is a road grader when he’s run-blocking, but he’s been a turnstile when he’s trying to protect the passer.
    The anointing of the Cardinals is a bit premature.

    • Fitzgerald_

      Actually there’s nothing new here. Palmer, on 18 starts for the Cardinals since he arrived with Arians is at 16-2… It’s huge.
      Even
      with a poor line, a bad running game and so on, we won. Now we have
      fixed (for the moment) these issues, we’ll crush the division.

    • Valdez

      Kick rocks! Every yr they say the cardinals wont make it to the playoffs yet we still do. Shitty teams huh? I guess in that case the Seahawks are one of the worst teams in football, right? All we do is win win!

  • jlcon99

    Cardinals were cruisin last year before Palmer was knocked out. Of course, that happened before their two late-season games against the Hawks. Wishing the best of luck to AZ, if they get past Seattle. They would do well to represent the West if the Hawks falter, and Fitzgerald and Palmer are due a deserved SB ring for their many years of service.