The noise surrounding Cardinals QB Carson Palmer and his ability to win big games grew considerably louder last season when he struggled during Arizona’s two playoff games.
Having entered the season without a single postseason victory, the thought was that while he was a good quarterback, he was not the kind of passer capable of leading a team to a championship.
Needless to say, a six-turnover performance in the NFC Championship Game did nothing to diminish those beliefs, and Palmer understands that to be true.
“You can’t win the big game until you win it,” he admitted Monday following the team’s first OTA practice.”We’ll revisit that when we get back to the NFC Championship and that will be that.
“Right now I’m focused on what we’re doing today, what’s going in tomorrow, what’s getting coached up today in this afternoon meeting and moving on tomorrow. When we get to the NFC Championship Game we’ll talk about that again then.”
The funny thing is, Palmer did lead the Cardinals to 13 regular season wins last season, with some of the victories being of the “big” variety. And while he was not exceptionally sharp in the Divisional Round, the Cardinals did beat the Green Bay Packers to advance to the NFC Championship Game.
Was that game not big?
Narratives like the one following Palmer are tough to kill, and really will not die until he leads the Cardinals to even greater heights than he did last season. However, while Palmer is aware and understanding of why people may think that about him, his teammate Jared Veldheer doesn’t like it.
A guest of Bickley and Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday, the left tackle said the talk that surrounds his QB upsets him.
“Absolutely, because it’s interesting where it comes from — if you look at the entire body of work, there’s MVP talks the whole year,” he said. “You can’t just put one game on one guy and that’s why we can’t wait to get back into that big game to show that that’s a fluke.”
Palmer was indeed in the conversation for MVP the majority of the year, and he even received one vote for the award that ultimately went to Carolina’s Cam Newton. Having recovered from a torn ACL suffered in the 2014 season, Palmer threw for a career and franchise-best 4,671 yards with 35 touchdowns and posted a QB rating of 104.6.
The former Cincinnati Bengal and Oakland Raider was good — damn good — and there’s plenty of reason to believe he can have similar success in 2016.
And Veldheer, at least, has the utmost amount of confidence in the 36-year-old even after the way he played in Carolina last season, when he completed 23-of-40 passes for 235 yards with one touchdown, four interceptions and two lost fumbles.
“I love him,” he said. “There’s not a guy I’d rather play for than Carson, or block for. Such a good guy; such a great guy and it’s not just his fault for that game.”
Veldheer said the offensive line did not play well against the Panthers, adding there’s a lot of blame that goes to certain people.
“It’s a team game and team-wise we didn’t get it done,” he said. “He’s back; he’s got fire. He’s such an awesome guy to play for. You can see what he does every game and I don’t think it’s going to be a question heading into this season.”
Veldheer has a better read on Palmer than most having played with him in Oakland, and it’s clear the lineman is fond of the QB. Of course, he’s not the only one in that locker room who feels good about the captain and offensive leader.
“He’s got great humility, great accountability; he’s going to shoot you straight and you know you’re getting the most prepared quarterback every week,” Veldheer said. “He’s very dubious with his studies, he’s making sure he puts in all the work and guys see that.
“And he’s great in the huddle. He takes control of the huddle, takes control of guys — is able to grab a guy and bring him back in if he goes off a little bit. Just that kind of guy.”
Veldheer added that Palmer is relatable and easy to talk to as well.
“You can sit down, eat lunch with him, conversation,” he said. “He’s just normal. He’s just a good guy and I think guys really go towards that.”
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