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Arizona Cardinals: Carson Palmer as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | What is the Carson Palmer experience? It's equal parts Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. On one hand, Palmer looks like he could lead a team down the field, through the game and into the NFL playoffs. On the other hand, he looks like an amateur, happy feet and all, as he sails another pass into the opponent's grasp.

I'm not implying that Palmer has an identity disorder, but he often looks like two different quarterbacks during the same game. In the Arizona Cardinals 31-7 drubbing at the hands of the New Orleans Saints, Palmer went from terrific to horrific in the span of a quarter.


The first drive of that game was an 11-play, 80-yard drive that chewed up 5:47 on the clock en route to a touchdown that gave the Cardinals their first (and only) lead of the game. Palmer went 4-for-5 with 44 yards passing on that drive. He'd go just 14-for-30 for 143 yards and two interceptions the rest of the way.

Head coach Bruce Arians' play calling didn't help matters, as the Cardinals basically abandoned the run and went with a very pass-heavy plan the rest of the way. The offensive line crumbled when the Saints realized they could pin their ears back and the rest took care of itself.

Getting hit nine times will make any quarterback suffer, but that snowball of poor throws seems to creep up on Palmer more often than it should. He isn't all bad, though.


If you take a look at his career stats, it appears as if he's a solid, but unspectacular quarterback. His completion percentage of 62.4 is respectable. He's thrown for 30,227 (No. 7 among active QBs) yards and has thrown 192 touchdowns (No. 8 among active QBs).

Palmer is No. 8 in NFL history in completed passes per game (21.1) and is No. 10 in passing yards per game (241.8). The fact is, he's a solid quarterback who has played a good enough brand of football to stay in the league for 125 games (124 starts).

This season, Palmer has been excellent in the first half of games. His quarterback rating is 102 in the first quarter and 95.8 in the second. However, those numbers drop to just 43.5 in the third and 40.7 in the fourth quarter. That leads us to the flip side of Palmer. Inside the opponent's 19-yard line, Palmer has gone just 2-for-10 for nine yards, one touchdown and one interception.


We can't look at Palmer's good numbers without talking about his bad ones. His 134 career interceptions place him fifth among active quarterbacks. He's No. 6 among active QBs in passing attempts (4,224), which put a tarnish on some of his positive passing numbers. He's on pace in 2013 to take 48 sacks, which would be horrendous and is at least somewhat on the quarterback.

His career record of 55-69 leaves a lot to be desired, but the glaring fact is that he's appeared in only two playoff games. The first was in 2005 with the Cincinnati Bengals, when his knee was seriously injured after throwing a 66-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. His second appearance was in 2009, also with the Bengals, where he threw for just 146 yards in a 24-14 loss at home to the New York Jets.

This season has been all-too-familiar for fans of Palmer. In the first half, he's completing 63.3 percent of his passes, with 483 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. In the second half, he plummets to 51.9 percent with 279 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions.

A big reason for his slow start this season has been his struggles inside the opponent's 19-yard line. Palmer has gone just 2-for-10 for nine yards, one touchdown and one interception in the red zone. Where a quarterback should be feasting, Palmer and the Cardinals are starving.

Michael Dunlap is an NBA credentialed writer who covers the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Diamondbacks and Arizona Cardinals for the Yahoo Contributor Network. He is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief for the NBA site

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