In the face of criticism, Cardinals QB Carson Palmer stays even-keeled

Sep 20, 2017, 7:21 PM | Updated: Sep 21, 2017, 11:29 am
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) throws while being pressured by Indianapolis Colts'...
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) throws while being pressured by Indianapolis Colts' Jabaal Sheard (93) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, in Indianapolis. Sheard was called for roughing the passer on the play. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

TEMPE, Ariz. – Hearing the criticism, dealing with the criticism and taking the criticism is part of the job — a job Carson Palmer accepted long ago as a quarterback.

No one likes to be criticized, of course. Yet, if you play the most important position in football, you had better be ready to be judged, often times harshly.

And Palmer is, and has been.

“That’s the game. That’s the position,” he said Wednesday. “There are going to be highs, and there are going to be lows. You’ve got to stay even-keeled throughout the whole process.”

Two games into 2017, there have been more lows than highs for Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals offense. That unit has scored three touchdowns, all in the second half with two coming in the fourth quarter.

It was Palmer who head coach Bruce Arians pinned the blame on for the offense’s struggles, first at halftime and then again postgame, in Week 2 at Indianapolis. The next day, Arians softened his stance after a review of the film.

Still, where the Cardinals were expected to be offensively and where they are currently is night-and-day.

Of course, the focal point of the offense this season, running back David Johnson, is hurt and will be sidelined two-to-three months. Four other offensive starters missed last week as well due to injury: wide receiver John Brown, tight end Jermaine Gresham, and the entire left side of the offensive line in tackle D.J. Humphries and guard Mike Iupati.

Gresham and Iupati appear to be on track to play against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football.

It would help, too, if Palmer was afforded more time to do his job.

Protection upfront, whether due to the linemen or tight ends, has been spotty, especially on some of Palmer’s deeper drop-backs. Through two games, he’s been sacked five times and hit 16 other times. On Sunday, the Colts sacked Palmer four times, including on the very first pass attempt of the game.

“I’d get frustrated if I took a quick five-(step drop) and got sacked right off the second play of the game,” Arians said. “Yeah, I’d get real frustrated. Just beat our guys one-on-one.”

Palmer didn’t admit to any frustration when speaking with reporters after practice Wednesday. He chose instead to put the responsibility on his shoulders.

“Get rid of the ball (quicker),” he said. “Always getting the ball out of your hands is always a good thing for those guys.”

The right side of the offensive line, and right tackle Jared Veldheer specifically, has struggled the most thus far. Veldheer and guard Evan Boehm went unpraised when Arians discussed the line’s play following the Colts game.

“(John) Wetzel had a good game. A.Q. (Shipley) had a real good game. (Alex) Boone had a solid game,” Arians said, adding about Veldheer and his switch from the left side to the right side, “It’s not easy, but he’s had enough work at it now to use the proper technique. He’s got to trust his technique.”

Asked his opinion of Veldheer’s play and Palmer, as expected, had his teammate’s back.

“I love him. He was my blind side for a long time, and now he’s on my front side. Bad plays happen,” he said. “You miss some guys when they’re open. You throw interceptions. Guys are going to get beat in one-on-one situations sometimes. That’s the game. There are good players on the other side of the ball, too.”

The Cardinals offensive line figures to be tested once again this week. The Cowboys defense boasts the NFL’s top-sack artist, DeMarcus Lawrence. He and Jacksonville’s Calais Campbell, the one-time Cardinal, share the lead with four. Lawrence also has a team-high six quarterback pressures through two games.

“I couldn’t be happier with (Veldheer) on my right side and Wetz came in and played really good on the left side,” Palmer said. “We’ll continue to get better and I know it.”

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