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Arizona Cardinals need to protect Carson Palmer, not pull him

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The last time the Arizona Cardinals played a Thursday night game was Week 5 of last season, and they gave up nine sacks in a 17-3 loss to the St. Louis Rams.

Thursday night in Glendale, they only allowed seven sacks in a 34-22 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.


Not enough to help the quarterback, who many fans seem anxious to replace.

“No,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said when asked if he had considered making a quarterback change. “It’s the reasons for the interceptions. Is it his decision-making? If it’s his decision making, then we will make a change.”

Palmer finished the night having completed 30-of-45 passes for 258 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Arians said the first pick, which came on a deep ball to Larry Fitzgerald, happened due to a bad no-call and a great play by Seattle safety Earl Thomas. He said the second, which was intended for Michael Floyd, was a bad decision.

But even though Palmer has been picked off a whopping 13 times in just seven games this season, Arians did not sound like he was ready to turn to backup QB Drew Stanton, at least not yet.

And he shouldn’t.

Palmer was under duress for most of the night, and there is little doubt the pressure led to his various mistakes. The seven sacks do not tell the entire story, as there were many other instances where he scrambled away from pressure or took a big hit just after getting a pass off.

While Palmer was not great — or even particularly good, for that matter — it would have been tough to expect any signal caller to have much success when given such little time to throw.

“We knew we needed to be great, and we were not great today,” Palmer said.


It was a team effort in offensive ineptitude, as the Cardinals rushed for just 30 yards on 18 carries, and the defense did not exactly do the team any favors by surrendering touchdowns on Seattle’s first two drives.

But any chance for the Cardinals to get in a rhythm and mount a comeback was thwarted by the offensive line’s inability to keep a good defense away from its quarterback.

“We obviously have to do a better job protecting,” left tackle Bradley Sowell said. “But we got down early and it turned into a two-minute drill from the third quarter in.”

As Sowell noted, it can be increasingly difficult to protect the quarterback when a defense can “pin its ears back every play” and just attack the quarterback. Yet, that was the situation the Cards were in, and the line was unable to hold up.

It’s a problem the team has seemingly faced year after year, and at this point it seems unlikely to completely resolve itself. Sure, the Cardinals will not face a defense as good as Seattle’s every week, but recent weeks have shown that you don’t have to be particularly adept at rushing the passer to get a shot at Palmer.

And the more defenders hit Palmer, the less likely Palmer is to hit his receivers.

Is that really his fault?

“No,” receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. “We’re 11 strong, everybody has to do their part to make it go. That’s not happening right now and we have to find a way to do it better.

“It’s as simple as that.”

If only it was.