Arizona Cardinals: Six keys to success in 2017

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 01: Carson Palmer
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 01: Carson Palmer /
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CHARLOTTE, NC – OCTOBER 30: Carson Palmer
CHARLOTTE, NC – OCTOBER 30: Carson Palmer /

6. Carson Palmer proves he can win the big games.

There is a narrative surrounding Arizona Cardinals starting quarterback Carson Palmer. It’s a narrative that purports he is a talented quarterback who lacks the clutch gene necessary to win big playoff games.

There are arguments that can be made for and against this narrative. On one hand, Palmer has a playoff record of 1-3, and his performance in the NFC championship game following the 2015 season, was repugnant. Moreover, anyone who has watched Palmer for an extended period of time, knows that a “gut-punch,” late game interception is always just a snap away.

On the other hand, one of his playoff losses was a game with Cincinnati in which he was injured during his first pass attempt, and his playoff win was the “instant classic” against Green Bay following the 2015 season. And lest we forget, that win involved an overtime play, during which Palmer escaped the pocket to find a wide open Larry Fitzgerald. If that’s not a clutch play, I’m not sure what is.

Finally, Palmer and the Cardinals were the only team to beat the Seattle Seahawks at home in 2016. While not a playoff game, the Seahawks are notoriously tough at home. In other words, winning a division game in Seattle is a big game, even if it’s not in the playoffs.

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The burden is on Palmer to prove the critics wrong, and the only way to do so, is to win more big games in the playoffs. Such a turnaround is not unheard of. There was a time when John Elway was considered a great quarterback who could not win the big game (three Super Bowl losses will do that to you). Same goes for Peyton Manning.

I’m not suggesting that Palmer is a quarterback of the same caliber as Elway or Manning. What I am suggesting, however, is that quarterbacks’ playoff fortunes can change. And ultimately, in order to be Super Bowl contenders, the Cardinals will need for Palmer to play more consistently in big games.