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Pro Football Focus: Cardinals’ Palmer poor under pressure

There are several reasons for the Arizona Cardinals’ loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, but the one that might get the most attention was the play of quarterback Carson Palmer.

In the team’s 31-7 defeat, Palmer completed 18-of-35 passes for 187 yards and threw interceptions while not registering a touchdown. His quarterback rating was 43.4, his lowest since Dec. 11, 2011, when he was with the Oakland Raiders.

While the offensive line could do a better job protecting Palmer, as he was sacked four times, he has not done well when the pressure has reached him. According to Pro Football Focus, he could not have been much worse.

He struggled when pressured, completing just one of nine attempts here and throwing a pick to leave him an imperfect 0.0 QB rating.

When a quarterback struggles against pressure it makes those instances stand out far more, and as a result can leave you exiting a game thinking there was a ton more pressure than there actually was. Take this game for example, on 39 drop-backs he was pressured on a third of them. Not great from the protection unit by any stretch, but not as bad as it seems, especially with one of the sacks being the result of Palmer getting spooked and climbing the pocket in such a way that his linemen would lose their leverage (Q3, 8:27).

Though Palmer got off to a good start against the St. Louis Rams, in the two games since, he’s struggled to maintain that performance. Improving the offensive line play is clearly the top priority for the Cardinals’ offense, but as PFF pointed out, they haven’t been as dreadful as it appears.

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