Only three players received votes in the AP NFL Most Valuable Player balloting this season — Carolina’s Cam Newton, New England’s Tom Brady and Arizona’s Carson Palmer.
None of them contributed to a Super Bowl championship this season. None of the three played very well in the game in which his team was eliminated from the postseason.
Yet, nobody in New England or Charlotte has uttered a word about finding a new quarterback for 2016. Some people have said that in Arizona. Only Palmer is facing the “he’ll never win the big one” label.
It’s impossible to pin that on Brady. He’s already won four Super Bowls and is one of the most decorated quarterbacks ever to play the game.
It’s dumb to include Newton in the category. He’s only 26 and is improving every season.
But despite a complete team failure in a 49-15 loss to the Panthers in the NFC Championship Game, Palmer is still a target of critics, both locally and nationally.
“Carson Palmer is a choke artist.”
“Palmer showed his true colors on the big stage again.”
“The enormity of a championship game is too much for Palmer.”
If you paid attention after Carolina’s win over the Cardinals, you likely heard comments similar to these or ones more harsh in nature. Heck, you may have been one of the people spewing this narrative.
It’s all hogwash.
Newton, Brady and Palmer also had another thing in common in their respective playoff exits — they faced defenses that were relentless.
Brady was hit 23 times by Denver’s rugged ‘D’ in the AFC Championship Game. He was sacked four times and he threw two interceptions.
Newton was terrorized by that same Broncos defense in the Super Bowl Sunday night. He was sacked seven times by Denver. He had only been sacked twice in two prior playoff games by two pretty good defenses in Seattle and Arizona.
Palmer was under duress on pretty much every throw in the NFC title game against Carolina. His offensive line couldn’t block effectively, and the Cardinals paid for it. He was sacked three times and hit on six other occasions. He threw four interceptions and fumbled twice.
In fact, the Brady-Newton-Palmer trio combined to complete only 49.6 percent of its passes while committing a total of 11 turnovers and compiling a 39.52 QB rating in elimination games.
This is not an attempt to sugarcoat Palmer’s worst performance in an Arizona uniform. He was bad. But it had more to do with what was happening across from him.
Defense wins championships. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that adage in my life, I’d be on a beach, sipping an adult beverage and not thinking at all about football. It was proven again Sunday night, just as it was proven in both conference championship games.
No quarterback is immune to a great defense hell-bent on destruction. Not Brady, not Newton and not Carson Palmer.
So can we all get off Carson’s back now?
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