There is no secrete that the quarterback is the key to a successful offensive team on the field, and we have seen over the last four years how bad a team can be without this most important piece.
Watching Carson Palmer over the last three weeks and preseason and training camp, I notice the opposing defense react to him being under center, and it does not feel at all like last years quarterbacks, when the defenses did not respect the quarterback play at all.
There is a certain level of fear in a defender who knows the quarterback can hurt you with his mind and his arm, but if the quarterback gets rattled then the defense gets the advantage and that respect level starts to wane.
This has been the story of Carson Palmer in his entire career, a quarterback that is well respected enough to scare defenses around the league, knowing that if he remains in his comfort zone its going to be a long day for the defense. When things go bad he begins to wane, but that wavering is not in his own ability, but from another source.
Palmer has brought a calming level of confidence to the position, even when things go bad he does not get to down on himself, he is experienced enough to know that every quarterback, even the greatest of the great, are going to make some bad decisions and throw interceptions, and how they respond to this is the key to being elite in this league. Palmer does not lose confidence in himself, he looks the part of an always confident quarterback, confident in his ability to perform, but has never had the people around him that are as dedicated to the team concept as he is. For the most part he has played with either inexperienced teammates or selfish ones; it has been rare that he gets like minded players around him.
Palmer is the same quarterback today, with the Raiders last year he threw for over 4000 yards, but in the process he lost his confidence in who was around him, and it led to him forcing his way out, prior to that, the same situation in Cincinnati, Palmer had no confidence in the receivers and coaching game plan, it put him in situations that he was not comfortable in who was around him.
In this early part of the 2013 season Palmer has done that same thing during the course of the first three games, the first 2 drives of a game we see him confidently looking down field and making great decisions from the pocket and he looks good doing it. Second half has been a completely different story.
When the adversity comes, sacks, big hits from his blind side, miss communication with receivers, and a heavy pass rush, Palmer begins to feel the rush and it breaks his comfort zone, then he starts to get antsy in the pocket which causes those throws that make us say “what the blank was that” and it is simply a result of him not being confident in those around him, which is reverting back to his old habits from the two previous teams he played with.
This Cardinal team is the best team Palmer has been on in his career, in my opinion, and it will take him some time to play his way out of those bad habits that cause him to revert back to erratic play.
No team will be successful without team trust, all around the board, from coaching staff to the kicker, especially for the quarterback and his front line, along with his receivers. This receiving core is by far Palmer’s most complete bunch, but as for his offensive line, it looks a lot like what he has been used to, and that is clearly why he is looking like the same average quarterback.
They are all still learning each other to build that trust and once that happens, this team could really make some noise, but it all starts with Palmer, he must hang in there and build trust without wavering, even during the turmoil that is going on around him, he has the players around him in the skill positions. But he needs to get his trust in the wall in front of him, and that will not be easy, but he has to bring them together by believing in them and stand in there strong and make plays, if he does not then he will be labeled as the same old Carson Palmer.