May 14, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) looks on during organized team activities at the Cardinals Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Carson Palmer is the new sheriff in town for the Arizona Cardinals this season. For many Cardinals’ fans Palmer has restored hope in them after suffering horrendous quarterback play three years in a row. Fans were used to and spoiled with the resurrection of Kurt Warner’s career. Fans cringe at the sound of hearing names like John Skelton, Derek Anderson, and Max Hall just to name some who were picked to replace Warner and failed miserably.
Warner played at a elite level with a subpar offensive line, old running back, and a elite wide receiver. He took a mediocre football team and turned them into a Super Bowl contender. He had them one pass deflection away from hoisting the Lombardi trophy and bringing jubilation to a town where sport franchises were really struggling at the time. Suns had been dominated like always by their rival the San Antonio Spurs, and the Diamondbacks didn’t even make the playoffs.
Palmer has some mighty big shoes to fill here in the desert. The Cardinals are by far more talented than the team that surrounded Warner in 2008. A upgraded offensive line, two young running backs, and a monster defense Palmer is in postion to succeed. One problem is the division has improved drastically since 2008, and it will allow fans to see just how far the Cardinals are to returning to the playoffs.
One thing that shocked me is just how similar Warner’s and Palmer’s stats are. Palmer will likely surpass Warner this year in passing yards and touchdown passes this year, only trailing him by 2,879 yards and 19 touchdowns. For the Cardinals to be a playoff team Palmer doesn’t have to put up stats like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees. If Palmer can match his season totals from last season of 4,018 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions the Cardinals are a playoff team in my book.
I expect Palmer to put up better numbers this season if he can stay healthy. Now he isn’t a long term solution for Arizona, but if they can get solid production and have a young prospect behind him for the next three years it’s a win for the Cardinals organization. No doubt in my mind if Jonathan Cooper pans out on the line that the Cardinals are a few more elite offensive linemen, a stable running back, and a franchise quarterback away from Super Bowl contenders.
Palmer’s final stat line will be 4,147 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, and Rob Housler have the potential to reach 1,000 receiving yards each. Palmer has the weapons he just has to feed them, and with guys like Fitzgerald and Floyd who can catch the ball in traffic it will hopefully help keep Palmer’s interception total down. Don’t be surprised if Palmer passes his career high of 4,131 passing yards this season he’s never had a guy named Fitzgerald going out for passes.