Jun. 11, 2013; Glendale, AZ, USA: Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) and defensive tackle Darnell Dockett (90) during mini camp at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals Have the Best Quarterback in the NFC West

Carson Palmer, Russell Wilson, Sam Bradford, and Colin Kaepernick are the four NFC West starting quarterbacks. In that order is the way I have them ranked from best to worst. Niners’ fans and Seahawks’ fans would most definitely disagree with me no doubt about it. It was really tough to decide who was better between Wilson and Palmer, but I went to the stat book.

Kaepernick has to be the most overhyped quarterback in the NFC west. Is he even better than the guy he replaced Alex Smith? Sure Kaepernick is way more flashy and has the ability to run for huge yards, but how long will that last? Defensive coordinators are spending countless hours learning to defend against the option. Sports are Smith through nine games last recorded 1,737 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions. Kaepernick appeared in 13 games and started seven games. His totals were 1,814 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions.

Yeah he rushed for 415 yards and five touchdowns, but next season those numbers will be cut in half. He will probably throw for 3,300 yards and 22 touchdowns which is ok, but then again you don’t have to do much when you have a great team. It helps that he plays for one of the best overall teams in the league, their defense puts him in position to succeed with great field position and the offense plays old school ball with their tough hard nose running game. Michael Crabtree who is Kaepernick’s favorite target might not see the field at all this season, and other than Crabtree and Vernon Davis they are short at wide receiver. Who can he depend on? An aging Anquan Boldin that dominated in the playoffs, but has only reached double-digit touchdowns in the regular season once?

Bradford had a decent year last year throwing for 3,702 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. Bradford has yet to take the leap into the elite category many Rams’ fans have hoped he would have taken by now. Bradford wasn’t put in a position to succeed like his counterparts in the division. When Bradford first came to the rams they were a joke, but slowly Bradford and the defense have made this team better.Offensively his favorite weapon was Danny Amendola, and he is now in New England with Tom Brady. The Rams did draft speedy receiver Tavon Austin, but he is not a typical number one receiver. With some more offensive weapons I truly believe Bradford could be elite 

Wilson like Kaepernick is in a position where he doesn’t have to do very much he just has to do enough. Wilson threw for 3,118 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Now those aren’t elite numbers what so ever but they are good. Where Wilson is elite though is in the red zone where he threw 20 touchdowns and zero interceptions. To be a third round pick and start in his rookie season with so much poise is astounding to me, but when you have the best defense in the league and a beast in running the ball on your team you can play relaxed with little expectations.

Palmer will finish this season with the best statistics of all four, he has all the weapons to succeed with the Cardinals. Palmer had no help in Oakland and still managed to throw for over 4,000 yards. You also know what you are going to get from Palmer, we don’t quite know about Kaepernick and Wilson just yet since they have only started in a combined 23 games. If Rashard Mendenhall can return to old form in the desert and the line holds up Palmer will play at an elite level. The Cardinals’ defense will be better because of Palmer, he won’t constantly have the defense starting on their own side and he will give them more rest than they are used to. Palmer is ecstatic to get on the field he sees the potential in the offense to be a real threat this upcoming season.

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  • RoleyAnderson

    It’s pretty hard to agree with you…but I do. I think there is way too much hype between Wilson and Kaepernick, both of which are rookies, and people are still quick to praise Bradford, even though he put up worse numbers than Palmer on a team better than the Raiders where Palmer played. I truly believe Wilson and Kaepernick will develop into great quarterbacks, but the teams they play on have to be given some credit, both of which had o-lines that are some of the best in the league along with exceptional running backs and wide receivers. Palmer is the only quarterback who didn’t have ANY talent surrounding him and still put up numbers comparable to Joe Flacco in the regular season.

    Of all the quarterbacks in this division, you’ve got 2 unknowns in Wilson and Kaepernick playing on great teams and 1 known in Bradford playing on an exceptional team. Of all those quarterbacks, only Palmer and Bradford played on teams that had questionable talent…and Palmer played on the worst by far being the QB of the Raiders. Of all those quarterbacks, Palmer put up the most yards as well on a team with receivers, tight ends, and running backs who SHOULD play second-string in the Arena Football League.

    Now, Palmer will play on the best team he’s come into considering all the offensive talent he’ll be surrounded with. This year will prove whether Palmer is truly a top-10 quarterback, because he’ll have no excuse to play poorly, unless all of our starters on our o-line get injured like last season. I believe that this year will be a “break-out” year for Palmer, Fitz, Floyd, Roberts, Housler, and Mendenhall. If all those players have a great season, then I don’t see why we couldn’t at least compete with the Seahawks and 9ers and maybe even clinch a Wild Card spot.

    Only time will tell, and just like you, I could imagine what Seahawks and 9ers fans would say if they read this. BUT I am REALLY looking forward to seeing what they say if it actually happens! I’m going to love posting comments in the post season if we make it there, because either the 9ers or the Seahawks fans, which are both the favorites to win the division, will be making excuses left and right to why their team didn’t and the lowly Cardinals did.

    The Cardinals are heading into this season as a deep sleeper that nobody thinks has a shot…but we’ll see soon.

    • Nate

      It takes 11 players on both sides of the ball to make a team “great” and though I agree 49ers are heading that way and have a solid O-Line, it is still up to your QB to put points on the board and win a game. Don’t detract from what the QB on any team does because he has “help.”

      Every teammate has help, it is inherent to the word: team. I had the same belief in Alex Smith, because he didn’t “screw it up” for the rest of the team by throwing interceptions every other pass like Palmer seemed to at times. Call it game management or whatever, he is still responsible for putting points on the board for his team and not the opposition.

      • Vans

        do your homework…Kaepernick is entering his 3rd year

    • Chris

      No nfc west fans are sleeping on the cardinals. Everyone knows they were underperforming substantially due to having absolutely no qb play. That d is great and if you lose to a team in the NFC west there are no excuses. It’s the best division in football

    • Chris

      CK was not a rookie he was drafted the same year as Andy Dalton and Cam
      Newton. He may have not started his rookie season but that does not make
      him a rookie. I guess Ryan Mallet in NE is still a rookie since he
      spent a few years never playing behind Brady

  • http://Allcougdup.com/ All Coug’d Up

    WHOA WHOA WHOA! Since when? There’s no way…

  • Sean McConnell

    Good work! The homer in me hopes you are right about this season!

    • Edgar Valenzuela

      Thanks for reading man! I hope so to!

      • Chris

        Thinking CK will rush for 200 yards and 2 TD vs over 400 with more than 5 having a full season under his belt. YOu either know nothing about football or are praying for CK to struggle big time.

        • Edgar Valenzuela

          You want your Qb to rush for more than that? I want to see Kaep turn into a pocket passer, but if you want your Qb running instead of passing fine by me. Name me the last Qb who rushed for more than 500 yards and won a Super Bowl.

          • M. Jordan Pysher

            Steve Young

  • Eric the 9ers fan

    I agree with a lot of what you say, but I think that of the four coaches, Jim Harbaugh knows best how to raise a QB to the “next level”, and raise a player’s ceiling. Keep in mind how Alex Smith looked before and after a year with Harbaugh. I guess the main thing I disagree with is your assertion that he isn’t even better than Alex Smith. While I love Alex (and obviously I’m a diehard 49ers fan), I can’t see any argument that Kaepernick is worse than him. He is more accurate, with a stronger arm, and a better ability to run.

    ALL that said, I agree that Palmer is probably going to have the best statistical year of all of them. I also thing AZs defense, with Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu is going to take the next step, giving the NFC West 3 of the league’s most dominant defenses.

    • Edgar Valenzuela

      All I’m saying is your team was great with Alex Smith made it the NFC championship lost because Williams fumbled. If it’s not broke don’t fix it. Harbaugh did a great job with Alex.

    • RoleyAnderson

      Jim Harbaugh is definitely good with quarterbacks – Alex Smith of old vs Alex Smith of recent times proves that. I agree that Kaep has a much higher ceiling than Smith as well, so replacing him with Kaep was a good move. The guy knows how to throw!

      I’m really looking forward to seeing how this year turns out for him! I live in Arizona (Cardinals fan), was born and raised in San Francisco (9ers fan), and am a huge fan of Russell Wilson (so I’m also kind of a Seahawks fan). Overall, I’m an NFC West fan, but I don’t much like the Rams…Above everything else, I hope that one of our teams goes to the SuperBowl and claims and NFC West Superbowl ring so the NFC “Worst” can be proven to be the new NFC “Best.”

      To the point at hand, I believe Palmer will probably have the best passing stats (4000+ yards, 25-30+ touchdowns) based on his production on the Raiders with not nearly the talent he has in Arizona. I believe Russell Wilson will probably have best QBR and lowest interceptions with Kaep following close behind and Palmer coming in 3rd. Then, I think Kaep will probably have the most rushing yards and TDs – it’s hard for me to think that Kaep missing Crabtree will do better than Wilson with Harvin…

      The one thing that I’m looking forward to seeing most though is how these “rookie” (yes, I know Kaep is technically not a rookie, but it was his first year starting) quarterbacks pan out and the overall future of the option offense. How will the defenses respond? Will the QBs get hurt like RGIII? Will either of them have a sophmore slump? Big questions for the future of the NFL.

      Rooting for the Cardinals > 9ers > Seahawks > the rest of the NFL! NFC West Lombardi Trophy in 2013!

  • Nate

    Sadly, Palmer had his day with great receivers around him and showed his true colors when asked to carry a team…

    If you are missing the talent that was on display last year between the Seattle & SF QBs, then I beg you to watch football this year because you obviously were not watching last year. Bradford has the talent but he is so inconsistent to the point that hurts his team greatly. Blame it on his O-Line, whatever.

    Also, good luck with the ‘Zona O-Line… I am sure you will just blame Palmers bad production on that as well this season.

  • JV_Waterboy

    The only stat Palmer will own is Interceptions. Also pick sixes.

  • Chris

    Alex smith is better than Carson Palmer.

    Player Team DYAR Rk YAR Rk DVOA Rk VOA QBR Rank Passes Yards EYds TD FK FL INT C% DPI

    A.Smith SF 420 15 371 18 14.9% 10 11.5% 70.1 7 243 1,610 1,868 13 0 1 5 70.3% 4/35

    C.Palmer OAK 334 18 463 14 -2.4% 18 0.5% 44.7 29 592 3,820 3,526 22 2 5 14 61.7% 9/158

  • Chris

    This is the epitome of poor sports writing (I wouldn’t degrade the word analysis by using it to describe what you have done here). SHAME!!!!

  • Stephen Spiker

    Your entire argument hinges on the notion that QBs with good teams shouldn’t be judged as good QBs, which is absurd on its face. Carson Palmer threw for more yards because the Raiders trailed in so many games. Would Palmer have done better behind SF’s O-line? Sure. As good as Kaepernick? Maybe not.

    So yes, Palmer will likely finish with the best “statistics”, if you only look at passing attempts and yards. However, if you look QB Rating, ESPN’s QBR, completion %, and TD-INT ratio, Kaepernick and Wilson are far, far ahead of Palmer, and Bradford edges him out, too. And if you line up 32 NFL teams and ask them to choose between Carson Palmer and Colin Kaepernick, or Carson Palmer and Russell Wilson, you’d get a unanimous decision and your boy wouldn’t be the one picked.

    • Chris

      Thank god someone else actually knows how to analyze football here on this site! Totally agree with above comment, context is everything.

      • Mark7425

        I was starting to think i was in an alternate reality by the way people were talking about Palmer

    • Matty-Boy

      QBR is a skewed stat tool. Not accurate in its own context. The best “Experts” are on record as stating its a neat tool but not used for accurate depiction. It has its flaws. Secondly, How can you speak for all 32 teams?? How do you KNOW what they will or wont do?

  • Chris

    Garbage stats in a garbage division (afc west) does not the best qb in the NFC west make…

  • jaredholt

    i guess qb metrics don’t matter, either. kaep kills it in passer rating, qbr, whatever you want. you must be a tool

    • Edgar Valenzuela

      Has a higher rating than Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, and Drew Brees must be better than all them to huh?

      • Kevin

        Yes, he is. Except for Flacco (who was bailed out by the hand of God a few times in the playoffs), he has beat each of the above mentioned quarterbacks in shootout games in their respective stadiums while playing from behind. If you’re trying to be persuasive by name dropping, it ain’t working.

        • Edgar Valenzuela Villezcas

          That’s the funniest joke I’ve ever heard,so Bradford beat Wilson and Kaep he has to be better than them right? Kolb beat Brady so he’s better hahahahaha give me a break

    • Matty-Boy

      E. Valenzuela defends himself well here. Numerical stats are skewed and aren’t a good thing to fall back on. I’d change your avatar before you resort to name calling.

  • Mark7425

    Kaepernick/Wilson>>>Alex Smith>>>Sam Bradford>Carson Palmer I hope you wake up before this craziness spreads elsewhere.

  • Nic Albright

    Homer. Holy Cow.
    Spending too much time in the desert sun.

  • PaxMentis

    Possibly the stupidest so called “analysis” I have seen in 50 years of playing, coaching and following the game. Congratulations…

  • Joe Bob

    Carson Palmer will be lucky to finish the season with any numbers, let alone his health when his crappy O-Line gives up 8 sacks a game. And if you think Kaepernick is all about running maybe you should look up ESPN’s Sports Science on him going into the draft. He scored the highest numbers in decision making, reaction time, arm strength and accuracy EVER!!! That includes traditional pocket passers like Andrew Luck. It’s one thing to write for your fans, but let’s keep it all in the realm of reality please!

  • Kimo Baenen

    Well, you’re right about some of this, but you’re mistaken about a few things. First, 26TDs to 10 INTs is elite, for a rookie. It tied the most TDs ever by a rookie (as most every football fan knows), but it also stands alone as the high water mark for TD to INT differential at +16. Being in the record book, twice. Yeah, that’s elite.

    Yards aren’t everything. You claim that Palmer is the best since he’ll have the most yards, but he’ll also be the one that has to throw the most. He probably won’t have the best TD/INT ratio, he’ll probably have more INTs than 2 if not all 3 of the other guys, and he probably won’t have the highest YPA at seasons end.

    I understand that Arizona needs a reason to get excited after the last few years of QB play (and QB handling by the coaching staff, which has been worse than the play), but really, talk about your stout defense, you have more to stand on there.

    • Edgar Valenzuela

      Palmer threw 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last year which isn’t great but I believe his touchdown numbers will go up and his interceptions will go down because of Fitzgerald.

      • Kimo Baenen

        Bradford threw for 21 and 13 last year, which isn’t great but I believe his touchdown numbers will go up and his interceptions will go down with tavon austin, another year with chris givens, and another year of jeff fischer building the team his way.

        Kaepernick threw for 10 and 3, but why wouldn’t his numbers go up with a full season and a full off-season to get prepared?

        Wilson threw for 26 and 10, (which is elite as I stated already), and 16 and 2 with an additional 4TDs rushing in the final 8 games (not including playoffs where he went 3/1 + 1 rushing) but why wouldn’t his numbers go up when he’s not splitting reps 3-ways in training camp, and doesn’t have the coaching staff reining him in for the first 4+ weeks?

        You’re basing your ranking on optimism for Palmer and pessimism for the others. What has Palmer ever done? Thrown for a bunch of yards but not won many games. Thrown a few TDs and just a few less INTs.

        His best season was 32/12, but it was also almost a decade ago, in 2005. He was a total of 35/30 with the raiders, and his last season with the Bengals he was 26/20. That’s the same bengals team (minus palmer, plus dalton) that has made the playoffs the last two years.

        While I admit that Palmer is an upgrade over the last few years, he’s a stopgap. You’re trying to tell us that a stopgap is better than all 3 young, up and coming, improving, franchise quarterbacks. Sorry, but you’re just wrong on this one.

        • Edgar Valenzuela

          We will talk at the end of year. I respect you though man I agree we only have 3 years at most with Palmer. His career stats closely match up to Kurt Warner who he will likely pass in Touchdowns, Passing yards this year. Also the reason I think his interceptions totals will go down because of Fitz is how great he is in traffic you don’t have to make the best throw just has to be in his vicinity. Tavon Austin is not close to Fitz haha Thanks for reading

          • Kimo Baenen

            Lines up with kurt warner if you mean that carson palmer has 19 less TDs (209 vs 189), 2 more INTs (128 vs 130), completes 3% less of his passes (65.5 vs 62.5%) and averages .7 YPA less (7.9 vs 7.2) all while attempting more passes (32.8 vs 33.7) and averaging less yards per game (260.8 vs 241.5), and having a 7.5 lower (93.7 vs 86.2) QB rating. He’s worse in every category. The closest comparison is in games played, Warner is only 2 up on Palmer.

            Respect to you for taking the unpopular stance and defending it. Respect to Fitz for all the obvious reason, and yes, he’ll help Palmer. But you’re still off base. We will talk at the end of the year, and Palmer will not have had the best season of these 4, that’s a guarantee.

  • Sean Easterling

    This may be the stupidest article I have read in all my years of watching and analyzing sports. Everyone who reads this
    is dumber just for having listened to you. Please gash your eyes out and then cover yourself in gasoline and jump in to a fiery chasm.

  • Daniel Paul Lacaze

    I love how people on here act as if they can predict the outcome of the wild west better than this blogger. If every blogger was correct in their predictions then 32 teams would win the Lombardi trophy. Here’s how I look at it. When I read the article title, I immediately doubted the accuracy of your prediction, but after reading it, I feel as if there is definitely a chance. Fact is the matter is at least you got your blog on ESPN, so really all these haters who are clearly biased can continue reading the work of others like you. I understand people can disagree, but that is no need to be vulgar, especially when it is something so unpredictable. No one knows how the Cardinals will shape up this year, and no one knows how the young quarterbacks will perform. All in all, it was a good article that serves it purpose in giving ‘ZONA fans hope for this next season. To all the people hating on here, leave it off the comment board and add constructive opinions or statistics. Or come back after the season and just enjoy the off season predictions and chatter. Great article and way to keep it light and brief to the point.

  • M. Jordan Pysher

    Someone drank that Arizona Kool-Aid

  • Dionysus86

    I lol’d.