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QB Carson Palmer - Arizona Cardinals

6-5, 230Born: 12-27-1979College: Southern CaliforniaDrafted: Round 1, pick 1

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Photo: Mark J. Rebilas, US Presswire

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Recent Stats and Projections

17 vs SEA 34 12 25 129 1 1 0 0 0 0 9.45
19 vs GB 66 25 41 349 3 2 0 0 0 0 26.45
20 at CAR 0 23 40 235 1 4 0 0 0 2 9.75

Recent Game Summaries

2015 Week 20 vs CAR (23 / 40 / 235 / 1 / 4 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)

Many of this season's recaps for Palmer had been filled with superlatives and hyperbole. Oddly enough, after the worst game of his career on the biggest stage he has seen, that does not feel quite right. Was Palmer's finger a bigger issue than anyone would admit? Maybe, it is possible, but I do not believe so. Is he too mentally weak to overcome the nerves of playoff football? Again, I do not think so, but your mileage may vary on that. To pin Palmer's performance and the loss on either of those factors seems to rob the Panther's defense of the praise it deserves and shift the blame from what seems more accurate. The protection all night was awful, the play calling-from the armchair perspective- was questionable at best and after digging an early hole, Palmer became anxious and forced some inexcusable passes. While there were no shortage of poor Palmer throws and decisions to highlight, his first interception of the night proved his most costly. Down 17 points late in the first half, a Patrick Peterson interception had the Cardinals just outside the Panther's red-zone. Palmer immediately gave the ball right back to the Panther's, failing to see Safety Kurt Coleman as he tried to force a touchdown to John Brown, ending the game for all intent and purpose.

2015 Week 17 vs SEA (12 / 25 / 129 / 1 / 1 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)

According to Head Coach Bruce Arians, pulling Palmer at the half was always part of the plan, despite telling the media otherwise. What clearly was not part of the plan, broadcast or not, was the effort displayed in the first half and the absolute domination at the hand of a division rival because of it. Palmer undoubtedly played his worst game, or half, of the season, but was done no favors by his teammates. Incorrect routes run by receivers led to Palmer's lone interception, nearly caused another and left many yards on the field. Dropped passes failed to convert first downs and an offensive line that did little to provide a run game nor much pass protection were all at fault as well. Nevertheless, Palmer was not sharp, and like the rest of the team, not invested in Sunday's game. Nothing should be taken away from the Seahawks effort, a team every bit as scary heading into the postseason as they have been the previous three years, but whether it was from reading their press-clippings or treating the game like an exhibition, this Cardinals team did not show much interest in the outcome of their week 17 matchup. Possibly the most troubling stat from Palmer that came out of this game was his 5.2 yard average, over three full yards lower than his season-long average. Pushing the ball downfield against Seattle always poses a challenge, but if these two teams do play each other again in the playoffs, Palmer must find a way to connect on more of the chunk plays that have driven this Cardinals offense all season long.

2015 Week 16 vs GB (18 / 27 / 265 / 2 / 1 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)

Celebrating his 36th birthday, Palmer played an efficient and effective game, making the plays necessary to guide the offense on four scoring drives, while otherwise ceding the game to his team's dominant, stifling defense. After a little sloppiness on the team's first two possessions, Palmer then guided the offense to three consecutive scoring drives to close out the first half, including touchdowns throws to Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown. Both touchdown passes came on fairly simple slant routes, with each receiver doing an excellent job sitting down in the defense's zone, providing a window for Palmer to thread a pass through. Two defensive touchdowns and a 14-yard David Johnson scoring run later, there was not much more Palmer had to do to help earn the win, but Palmer did so nearly flawlessly. His one gaffe, the team's only turnover in the last five games, came late in the second quarter when Palmer threw an interception to a Packers linemen while trying to sett up a screen. After intercepting Aaron Rodgers right back, Palmer led the team down 80-yards in less than a minute capping the drive off with the aforementioned touchdown to John Brown for Palmer's signature drive of the game.

2015 Week 15 vs PHI (20 / 32 / 274 / 1 / 0 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)

Multiple costly drops from John Brown likely robbed Palmer of another multi-touchdown performance, but apart from that statistical letdown, Palmer was simply sensational Sunday night. Facing a banged-up Philadelphia secondary, Palmer was quick to identify the open receiver and accurate in his ball placement all evening, allowing his talented pass-catchers the opportunity for additional yards after the catch. Palmer only connected on one deep ball, an incredible sideline throw to Michael Floyd, but two drops on deep throws to John Brown and the inability of J.J Nelson to better fight for a contested ball helped contribute to that. Palmer kept taking his shots throughout the night still, and in-between expertly worked the short and intermediate routes, picking up first downs with ease and continuously marching his team down on scoring drives. The box score for Palmer was not especially gaudy Sunday night, but the performance was impressive nonetheless.

2015 Week 14 vs MIN (25 / 35 / 310 / 2 / 0 pass, 3 / 3 / 0 rush)

The box score for Palmer's game on Thursday shows a game much in line with the MVP performances he has been putting together all season, but in reality Thursday was a much more disjointed effort than the stat line indicates. Palmer's accuracy, pocket presence, and ability to spread the ball around were all on display, but struggled more than usual pushing the ball downfield, with both touchdown passes featuring significant yards after the catch. The 65-yard touchdown pass to John Brown featured roughly 45 yards after the catch, while Michael Floyd's 42-yard score involved some 35-yards of YAC. This is not meant to denigrate Palmer's performance, he routinely drove his team down for scoring opportunities, including a crucial drive late in the 4th-quarter for the eventual game-winning field goal, it just was a little bit sloppier than anyone anticipated with so many Viking defensive injuries. Nevertheless, playing on a Thursday prevents proper preparation, but Palmer was able to overcome the obstacles and some less than stellar pass-protection to walk away with a crucial win in a tight NFC playoff race.

2015 Week 13 vs LA (26 / 40 / 356 / 2 / 0 pass, 0 / 0 / 0 rush)

Throughout the week of preparation for the Rams, many on the team talked about approaching the game with revenge on the mind, but nobody more so than Carson Palmer. The demons of the disappointing week four loss were largely exercised on Sunday, with a thorough domination of the Rams in St. Louis. A few early game offensive stalls in Rams territory deprived the Cardinals of more points, but Palmer passed with precision all afternoon, moving the offense down the field on seemingly every drive. Palmer threw two touchdown passes on the day, finding rookie speedster JJ Nelson in the back of the end zone on the team's first possession, then later threading a needing to David Johnson sitting down in a zone. Palmer hit on multiple deep attempts, found his hot-reads on Ram blitzes, and threw for over 350 yards all while spreading the ball around to seven different receivers. If revenge was a primary motivator, Palmer surely showed off his deadly side.

2015 Week 12 vs SF (24 / 40 / 271 / 0 / 0 pass, 3 / 6 / 1 rush)

Nobody was immune to the offensive struggles on Sunday, with the league's statistically best quarterback failing to out-gain his counterpart, Blaine Gabbert. With pressure in his face all afternoon, Carson Palmer never managed to find the groove and move the ball with any sort of consistency for most of the afternoon. San Francisco penalties bailed out the Cardinals offense all afternoon long, with four penalties inside the 5-yard line aiding the Cardinals in their first touchdown drive, and a highly questionable roughing call helping the Cardinals drive down for the game winning score. This was the first game all season long Palmer has failed to throw a touchdown pass, but did manage to score the game-winning touchdown on a broken play scramble late in the fourth. Palmer was sloppy, throwing often into double-coverage, and pressed a bit too much when frustrated by the pressure, but in the end, despite a porous offensive line and virtually no run game, did manage to guide his team into the win column once again.

2015 Week 11 vs CIN (20 / 31 / 317 / 4 / 2 pass, 1 / -1 / 0 rush)

After settling down from an admittedly overzealous start, which resulted in interceptions on two of the Cardinals first three offensive possessions of the game, Palmer snapped back into MVP form, picking apart an injured secondary for four touchdown passes, including three in the 3rd quarter. In typical Palmer fashion, all four touchdowns were caught by different receivers, letting the coverage dictate his targets, despite the absence of Michael Floyd. A week after picking apart the vaunted Legion of Boom in Seattle, Palmer followed up by hanging 31 points on a defense who had not given up more than 24 points all season. The Cardinals can and will score on anyone so long as they protect Palmer and he limits his mistakes; both issues the Cardinals have been able to impressively overcome as of late and still win games, but a certain recipe for failure come playoff time. With two tremendous quarterbacks currently leading their teams to undefeated seasons, MVP accolades may not be in Palmer's future, but presently, nobody is playing the position better than Carson.

2015 Week 10 vs SEA (29 / 48 / 363 / 3 / 1 pass, 3 / -2 / 0 rush)

Palmer continued his MVP campaign with another spectacular effort Sunday night in Seattle's hostile environment against one of the league's best defenses. Palmer was in part responsible for all three of the team's turnovers (blocking breakdowns bear much of the responsibility for both strip-sacks, but the red-zone interception was all on Palmer,) he overcame those negative plays with three touchdown passes and several more sensational throws. While nowhere near the crafty scrambler that his counterpart on the evening is, one of the most impressive attributes of Palmer's game on Sunday, and truthfully throughout the season, has been his ability to move around in the pocket, keeping plays alive for important conversions. Palmer was consistently moved off his spot Sunday night by an impressive pass rush, but still managed to complete over 70% of his passes against pressure. Palmer once again completed over 60% of this throws, and while his 7.6 yard per pass was over a full-yard shy of his season long average, he still managed to push the ball downfield including touchdowns of 27 and 35 yards. With the three unbeaten teams, all featuring excellent quarterback play this season, the narrative might not be on Palmer's side for an eventual MVP trophy, but nobody in the NFL is playing as well as Carson Palmer right now, a statement not many imagined at the start of the season.

2015 Week 8 vs CLE (23 / 38 / 374 / 4 / 1 pass, 3 / 6 / 0 rush)

The trends that Palmer has established through the first seven weeks of the season were on display again on Sunday- pushing the ball downfield, throwing with accuracy, minimizing mistakes, and converting on third-downs. Despite swirling winds and a sidelined John Brown, Palmer still threw for nearly 400 yards and four touchdowns, keeping him tied with Tom Brady for the most touchdowns in the league. Earlier in the week, Palmer mentioned to media members that red-zone and third-down conversions were the only two passing stats he was concerned with, and his 60% red-zone and 80% third-down conversions would certainly classify as a success. Palmer's one major miscue, a 3rd quarter interception, was a questionable decision at best, simply throwing it up to covered Larry Fitzgerald but also involved a questionable no-call for what appeared to be a defensive hold. Overall, it was another excellent game from Palmer, who also credited Coach Arians for having orchestrated what Palmer called "the best play-called game of [his] career." Heading into their bye-week Palmer has guided his team to a two-game lead in their division and himself into MVP consideration.

2015 Week 7 vs BAL (20 / 29 / 275 / 2 / 0 pass, 2 / 2 / 0 rush)

While Monday night's game lacked in the many deep pass attempts that Palmer has been so successful with this season, an efficient effort was all that was necessary to continuously lead the Cardinals down the field and into scoring opportunities. Most impressively, on the few instances Palmer did throw deep, all but one connected. Completing nearly 70% of his throws and once again excelling in the intermediate range, Palmer was able to exploit the sub-par Ravens secondary with relative ease all night. Palmer's distribution of targets reflected the lack of downfield attempts Monday night, with tight end Jermaine Gresham co-leading the team in both targets and receptions, while running backs Andre Ellington and David Johnson were also featured regularly in the passing game. The lone complaint unfortunately again for Palmer and the offense was its red-zone efficiency. While this was mostly due to a stagnant red-zone run game, twice the team kicked field goals on drives that ended within the opponents 5-yard line, something that simply cannot continue to happen as the team gets ready for its significantly harder 2nd-half schedule.

2015 Week 6 vs PIT (29 / 45 / 421 / 1 / 2 pass, 2 / -1 / 0 rush)

Palmer's day Sunday was a bit of a mixed bag both statistically and when watching the film. That made it even more surprising to see Pro Football Focus grade him as their #1 Quarterback for week six. What likely resulted in this apparent discrepancy was that many of Palmer's best throws were nullified by penalties (or in the case of a missed defensive pass interference call, the lack thereof,) or errors from his teammates. Easily the most impressive aspect of Palmer's play on Sunday was his downfield throwing, with his first throw of the game a 45-yard bomb to John Brown down the sideline. Ultimately, however, Palmer's success when throwing deep on Sunday led to a few of his more costly errors, including the late red-zone interception that all but ended the game. On the play, trailing by five from the Steeler's 20, Palmer lost sight of the free safety, and instead of finding Fitzgerald open underneath for an easy gain, Palmer forced the ball to a double-covered John Brown in the end zone for an interception. The play was a microcosm of the team all-day, falling just short due to a self-inflicted error.

2015 Week 5 vs DET (11 / 14 / 161 / 3 / 0 pass, 1 / -1 / 0 rush)

To borrow a cliché, Palmer's day was the definition of efficient on Sunday against the Lions. Taking advantage of short fields afforded from a turnover-happy defense, and a dominant run game, Palmer needed only 14 passes on Sunday to make his mark. With as many incompletions (3) as touchdown throws, Palmer made the most of nearly every attempt. Arguably, the truest mark of Palmer's impressive performance on Sunday was his 11.5 yards per attempt. To play so efficiently in an offense designed for short, quick throws is deserving of praise, but to do so in an offense that is pushing the ball downfield more than any other team in the NFL is simply remarkable, and unsurprisingly it was Palmer's longest throw of the day that was his most impressive. Facing 2nd-10 from his own 1-yard line, Palmer confidently dropped back into his own end zone, and tossed a beautifully thrown ball to John Brown running a simple go-route down the right sideline. The ball floated perfectly over the defender's outstretched arms and right into Brown's hands, traveling 40-some yards in the air. Four plays later the Cardinals founds the end zone for an impressive 5-play, 99-yard touchdown drive.

2015 Week 4 vs LA (29 / 46 / 352 / 1 / 1 pass, 1 / -1 / 0 rush)

Despite playing his worst game of the season on Sunday, averaging his lowest yards per attempt and an unfortunate 1:1 touchdown to interception ratio, Palmer still moved the ball effectively against the Rams and played well overall in the loss. While others' more costly errors ultimately lost the game on Sunday, Palmer's mistakes were noteworthy in that they came at crucial points in the game. Arguably, Palmer's two worst throws of the day came on the Cardinals last possession as they tried to convert 3rd, then 4th-2. In both instances, Palmer had a relatively clean pocket and an open receiver, Jaron Brown and David Johnson respectively, and overthrew both. Additionally, Palmer's second-quarter interception on an underthrown deep post to John Brown led directly to a Rams field goal while costing the Cardinals a scoring opportunity after they had easily moved the ball to midfield.

2015 Week 3 vs SF (20 / 32 / 311 / 2 / 1 pass, 1 / 1 / 0 rush)

Much like many of the players who claim to be in the best shape of their lives, it was fair to wonder if Palmer's offseason talk about improved mechanics and better arm strength would translate into results or simply unfulfilled hype. Through the admittedly small sample-size of the first three games, the results seem to speak for themselves. Palmer was stellar once again on Sunday, completing over 60% of this passes, racking up over 300 yards along with two touchdowns to his new favorite target, some guy named Larry Fitzgerald. Credit for the Cardinals offensive explosion can be passed around to many; the line's improved protection, the revamped running game, a fantastic wide receiver corps led by Fitzgerald and John Brown, and of course the mad-scientist Bruce Arians' play-calling. However, it is Palmer mastery of the offense that coalesces this into a unit capable of dominance. Palmer exploited the middle of the field with ease on Sunday and was exceptional on play-action, continually finding receivers who seemed to have 5-yards of separation on nearly every play. The schedule will eventually get harder and the gaudy numbers may come down a bit, but Palmer and the passing game are playing at an elite level right now, and barring injury, that seems unlikely to change anytime soon.

2015 Week 2 vs CHI (17 / 24 / 185 / 4 / 1 pass, 2 / -2 / 0 rush)

Wins are not a quarterback-stat, but Palmer's 14-2 record in his last 16 starts feels significant. It indicates a well-rounded team and undoubtedly some luck along the way, but it hints at a consistency from the position the Cardinals have very rarely had since relocating to the valley of the sun. Moreover, its not as if Palmer's other statistics betray this notion. He is tied with Tom Brady for most passing touchdowns (7) in the NFL through two weeks. On Sunday, he finished the day with a completion percentage just north of 70, a 4:1 touchdown to interception ratio, and a QB Rating over 115. Scouting service Pro Football Focus graded him at a +3.7. Palmer's lone mistake of the day, an interception late in the 2nd quarter, required an impressively athletic play from Jared Allen. Additionally, one of Palmer's best attributes as the Cardinals quarterback has been his ability to spread the ball around, but Sunday he both recognized and fed the hot hands of Larry Fitzgerald. With a full command of the offense, a healthy Palmer has the opportunity to take this Cardinals team to heights they have seldom reached.

2015 Week 1 vs NO (19 / 32 / 307 / 3 / 0 pass, 3 / 14 / 0 rush)

Ever since acquiring Palmer in the spring of 2013, Cardinals GM Steve Keim has repeated a variation of the same quote several times, saying that if given proper protection, Palmer could still spin the ball as well as anyone in the league. On Sunday, and for much of his Cardinals career, Palmer has proven that statement true. Palmer spread the ball around on Sunday, targeting nine different players throughout the game, accurate with his ball placement in tight windows, and applying continual pressure on the defense by attacking with deep and intermediate throws. Palmer averaged nearly ten-yards per throw on Sunday, and with a completion percentage just a hair-shy of 60, it is clear to see the Cardinals passing game was clicking on nearly every cylinder. His three touchdowns also showed the fantasy potential Palmer has when properly protected. The Saints do not bolster one of the league's better pass rushes, but giving up zero sacks and minimal pressure was an excellent start of the year for Palmer's protectors and a sign of great optimism for the team and fans.


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