TEMPE, Ariz. — A common story throughout the second half of the Arizona Cardinals’ 2013 season was that quarterback Carson Palmer was finally familiar with the offense, and thus playing at a higher level.
It was not an outlandish idea, especially given that Palmer threw 10 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in the team’s first eight games and 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions over the final eight. Palmer completed 61.3 percent of his passes in the first eight games and 65.3 percent over the last eight. His QB rating was 72.4 in the first half and 95.3 in the second.
In short, Palmer looked like a completely different quarterback, and his progression helped the Cardinals to a surprising 10-6 record.
“I think the guys I’ve been with have gone from as many as 20 (interceptions) down to eight,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “You’re still going to get a tipped ball here or there or a guy is going to make a play on a ball, but the huge number of interceptions should go away.”
The hope — the expectation, really — is that the quarterback will take another step forward as he heads into his second offseason with the team. Monday, as the players cleaned out their lockers at the Tempe training facility, Palmer said he’s looking forward to the team’s future and his part in it.
“I can’t wait,” Palmer said. “OTAs, all the stuff in the spring and just to add to foundation and see where we can go with this offense and see what we can add, that’s also exciting.”
It was no secret that coach Bruce Arians’ offense took time to learn, and probably a little more than anyone would have hoped. However, the coach noted that it usually takes about half a season for players to really get it, but once they do, things really take off.
Speaking of the team as a whole, Arians said the difference in year two is very substantial.
“Year Two, when you’re watching yourself do it on tape instead of watching the Colts or the Steelers do it on tape, it’s a whole lot easier to transform that onto the practice field,” he said. “The installation process is so much easier. The route concepts, the steps, footwork, all the little things, the minor details, they’re all in there now.”
Last offseason, Arians and his staff spent much of the time learning their players while the players were learning their schemes. That’s no longer the case, and that understanding makes heading into the offseason that much easier, even if closing the book on this season is a tough pill to swallow.
“It’s awesome, I can’t wait,” Palmer said. “It’s a shame it’s over.”