The time is near.
On July 21, the Arizona Cardinals will report to training camp with their first official practice coming the following day at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
From there, the team will build the foundation for what it hopes will be a playoff-caliber campaign with a reshaped roster bouncing back from the disappointment that was 2016.
In the days leading up to the opening of camp, we thought we would ask our Arizona Sports panelists a series of questions related to the Cardinals and their prospects for 2017. There are five in total.
Before we get into today’s, here are the published editions:
Is Carson Palmer the QB who struggled in the first half of 2016 or the passer who excelled in the second part of the season?
John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo
Depends on the offensive line. If they protect him then he is the second half quarterback. If they don’t — like in the Vikings game when he dropped back 42 times, was hit 23, knocked down 17 and sacked four — then he is the quarterback of the first half. When sacked two or fewer times, Palmer’s numbers and the Cardinals as a team are good. When he is sacked three or more times, they have a hard time winning.
Mike Jurecki, co-host of The Blitz with B-Train and Jurecki as well as Cardinals insider
Palmer needs to have a bounce back year. Last year he took a league-high 117 hits and to be effective he must be upright. He played better in the second half of the season throwing 16 touchdowns and only eight interceptions versus the first half when he threw 10 touchdowns, six interceptions and was sacked 24 times.
Palmer has 35 wins in 53 starts with the Cardinals and his victories are fourth-most in franchise history among quarterbacks. Only two starters return to natural positions from a year ago: left guard Mike Iupati and center A.Q. Shipley. D.J. Humphries will start camp at left tackle, Jared Veldheer at right tackle, and Evan Boehm at right guard.
Palmer numbers in wins: 136-of-223, 1,732 yards (61 percent) 12 touchdowns, three interceptions, seven sacks
Palmer in losses: 199-of-325, 2,159 yards (61.2 percent) 14 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 29 sacks
Palmer’s first eight games: 177-282, 2,068 yards (62.8 percent) 10 touchdowns, six interceptions, 24 sacks
Palmer’s last eight games: 187-315, 2,165 yards (59.4 percent) 16 touchdowns, eight interceptions, 16 sacks
Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley and Marotta
I believe Palmer is the quarterback we saw in the second half of the season. It’s easy to pin the failures of the passing game on the QB, and certainly, some of that blame belongs to Palmer. But the receiving corps, due to injury and ineffectiveness, was totally out of sync in the first half of the season. What impressed me most about Palmer’s second half last year was that it came behind a makeshift offensive line, yet he still had 16 touchdowns and only eight picks in his final eight games. I see him picking up where he left off in ’16.
Craig Grialou, Arizona Sports reporter
By monitoring and reducing his workload in the offseason and coming up in training camp, Palmer should be closer to the quarterback who excelled in the second part of last season rather than the one who struggled in the first half of 2016. The numbers prove it. During his final five games, he posted an 11-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio and 95.9 passer rating. And Pro Football Focus ranked Palmer the fourth-highest passer between weeks 8-17. Of course, protection will be a big key.
Dave Burns, co-host of Burns and Gambo
This is the toughest question to answer. If it’s the former then the run is done. But choosing the latter seems overly optimistic given his age and the potential for a rapid decline in his physical skills. I think the emphasis on rest and the hopeful return of John Brown and Jaron Brown will lead to Palmer putting up good numbers. Maybe not the MVP type numbers of 2016, but good numbers.
Doug Franz, co-host of Doug and Wolf
I’ll answer a question with a question. Is John Brown healthy? His health will determine Palmer’s success.
Adam Green, Arizona Sports reporter and co-host of Arizona Sports Saturday
Simply put, rumors of Palmer’s demise are overblown if not totally false. No doubt he was not great to begin last season, but much of that can be attributed to a rotating cast of ineffective receivers as well as poor protection and a scheme that did him no favors. Once things settled down and Palmer began getting more rest, the veteran looked about as sharp as he did the previous season with the statistics backing up the claim. Assuming the reshuffled offensive line holds up and he remains healthy, I think it’s fair to expect Palmer to have another good season.
Craig Morgan, Arizona Sports reporter and columnist
The fairest answer is to say he is both. Palmer’s 87.2 passer rating last season was a shade shy of his career average of 88 and in truth, he posted three games with a passer rating over 100 in the first half of the season; the same number that he posted over the second half. Measuring a quarterback’s effectiveness is a complex analysis because so many players can impact it through missed assignments on the offensive line, missed blocks by the running backs or dropped passes by receivers. That said, Palmer is comfortable in Arians’ offense and should continue to provide above-average to high-level QB play, health providing. A healthy John Brown should also help, but the Cardinals are still searching for a true No. 2 receiver, with Jaron Brown and Chad Williams in the mix.
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