Consecutive losses to division foes, which followed a three-interception performance to the Carolina Panthers, once had the Valley calling for Drew Stanton to usurp Carson Palmer as the Arizona Cardinals’ starting quarterback.
A lot has changed since then, which was just back in mid-October.
The Cardinals have won four straight and Palmer has been no minor factor in the streak. His accuracy is way up, completing more than 70 percent of his passing attempts in three of those four games, tallying a pair of touchdowns in each.
After Sunday’s two-touchdown, 314-yard performance, which earned him NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors, the 33-year-old signal caller finally got out of the red in his TD-INT ratio, now with 16 touchdowns to 15 interceptions on the season.
It’s no coincidence that Palmer’s improvement has been in stride with that of his offensive line’s, but ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski says that’s not the only reason the quarterback has righted his game of late.
“I don’t ever think there is ever one single thing… It’s multiple things,” Jaworski told The Burns and Gambo Show on Tuesday.
Naturally, trust in his protective front has paid huge dividends for Palmer. Though being sacked 10 times over the last four games, the constant pressure on the quarterback has been significantly reduced.
Add that comfort to the list of factors leading to his betterment.
“There is no question Carson Palmer is much more comfortable in the pocket because he understands the system a lot better,” Jaworski went on.
“That’s just a matter of practicing every day. The offseason, training camp, the preseason — he has gotten a better understanding of what they are trying to do.”
The learning curve that came with learning a new offense, like that of head coach Bruce Arians, was surely working against Palmer’s early-season performance. The decision making mistakes seemed to be rapidly mounting, as the quarterback once had a 10-14 TD-INT ratio, the second worst such mark in all of football.
Beyond adjustment, another factor, Jaws told the show, has been the added tight end in the Cardinals’ offensive formations.
“Some of the things they’ve done with their schemes have been helpful (to Palmer),” he explained.
“The multiple tight ends — in the last three games… with two or three tight ends in the game, he is 32 of 47. That’s a quarterback rating of 113.9; four touchdown passes and one interception. He feels comfortable with multiple tight ends on the field. I think he feels comfortable because he feels protected.”
Of course, the multiple tight ends are an additional protection factor for the bullied Palmer, as Jaworski was quick to highlight.
“(The Cardinals) tight ends do an excellent job,” he said. “Now, Housler is certainly more of your receiving tight end. But if you look at what Bray is doing, a tremendous job in pass protection and some very well-designed scheme protections.”
All that and, vuala, the Cardinals’ quarterback looks like a new man.