After the four-quarterback carousel the Arizona Cardinals went through in 2012, Carson Palmer appeared to be the team’s long lost answer behind center.
Acquired in a trade with the Oakland Raiders back in April, Palmer was supposed to bring to the table something the Cardinals had sorely missed since Kurt Warner’s 2009 retirement: a veteran quarterback with a big-play arm and an ability to make good decisions under pressure.
Well, that script hasn’t exactly played out for Palmer through the first five games of this season.
The two-time Pro Bowler has thrown nine interceptions (tied for second-most in the NFL) overall, including three picks in Arizona’s 22-6 victory over the Carolina Panthers Sunday.
While the Cardinals have managed to win each of the last two weeks in spite of Palmer’s costly errors (five combined INTs in Week 4 and 5), general manager Steve Keim didn’t hold back when assessing the 31-year-old’s most recent performance.
“He didn’t play well yesterday and made some critical mistakes, particularly with his decision making,” Keim told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug & Wolf Monday. “I think Bruce [Arians] hit on it yesterday. Two of those balls he was trying to force into Larry [Fitzgerald]. One time I don’t he didn’t see [Luke] Kuechly, but he saw Andre Roberts flash on a shallow cross. Then he tried to force it into Larry on a little seam. And, he just made a really poor decision.”
In 2012, Palmer only had two games in which he threw two or more interceptions. He’s already achieved the dubious feat on three occasions in 2013.
To make matters worse, Arizona actually got better production out of the Kevin Kolb-John Skelton duo (109-of-183 for 1,190 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions) through the five weeks of last season than they’ve received from Palmer (106-of-180 for 1,185 yards, five touchdowns and nine interceptions) in the same span.
“I heard Carson say yesterday that he has to be better than that and that he’s been in the league a long time,” said Keim. “And I completely agree. He has to pick his game up.”
Although Palmer’s errors are well-documented thus far, Keim also noted that the offensive woes are not all on No. 3. In particular, the Cardinals’ general manager focused his attention on wide receiver Andre Roberts and tight end Rob Housler.
“We need to help him in terms of the supporting cast,” said Keim. “Andre Roberts dropped a critical third down conversion on a slant. Rob Housler has to pick his game up significantly.
“I mean Rob is a guy who has all of the tools in the world but has not put it together on Sundays. He runs a seam on another third down conversion and doesn’t get his head around. So, there are also times where we aren’t helping Carson Palmer.”
Palmer could certainly use some help against Arizona’s Week 6 opponent, the San Francisco 49ers.
The reigning NFC champions have the second-best pass defense in the league (allowing 189 passing yards/game) and have picked off four passes over their last two contests.