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Carson Palmer’s resurgence: Is it magic or fact?

Maybe I’m just in a Pearl Jam state of mind with the concert on Tuesday trying to equate one of their songs to the recent play of Carson Palmer.

One of my favorite lines from a song that I just know they won’t play, “I’m Open,” goes something like this:

…when he was six he believed that the moon overhead followed him,
by nine he had deciphered the illusion, trading magic for fact
no tradebacks…

Are Palmer’s numbers over the last three games more than just an illusion? He’s completing 68.5 percent of his passes with 832 yards, six touchdowns, only two picks and a quarterback rating of 109.5 during that stretch. His coach, Bruce Arians, says Palmer has a “total understanding” of the offense now. Palmer’s team is 3-0 during this stretch and they are most decidedly in the hunt.

So when it’s pointed out that this great play has come against the Falcons, Texans and Jaguars – three teams that have combined for five wins and 25 losses – is that trading magic for fact?

It’s not. It’s trading fact for fact. The fact is, Carson Palmer has put up those numbers and that those numbers have come against lesser competition. It’s up to him and his teammates to determine if he can continue that success against much better competition over the next two weeks in the Colts and the Eagles.

It’s not unlike what the Kansas City Chiefs experienced Sunday night. Everyone knew the level of competition was suspect, but facts were facts: they were 9-0. The test was to see if they could play like that against a better team in the Broncos, and they could not. It didn’t make them a fraud or a phony; it didn’t expose them. It was a test and they didn’t pass. They’ll get a retest in two weeks, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them play much better at home against that same Broncos team.

Palmer has the same opportunity in front of him. For now, the “magic” of a team playing meaningful games in December outweighs any interpretation of the facts. At least is does for me. Moments like these don’t come around very often around these parts.

These last three games have provided the hope Palmer has turned the corner. The next two might bring with it the belief he actually has.