Carson Palmer has been an Arizona Cardinal for three seasons, and in short time he has re-written some of the franchise record books and regained his status as one of the NFL’s better quarterbacks.
In 2015 he was named to the Pro Bowl and earned an MVP vote after throwing 4,671 yards and 35 touchdowns with just 11 interceptions. He completed 63.7 percent of his passes, had a QB rating of 104.6 and led the Cardinals to a 13-win regular season.
He struggled in the playoffs, though, and that has led some to question whether or not he is actually good enough to get the Cardinals to the Super Bowl.
Palmer himself understands those questions and does not shy away from them, but really, while Palmer may not be the best QB in all of football, he’s still one of the better passers in the game.
Could the Cardinals do better? Doubtful. Could they do worse? Absolutely.
See 2012 — the last season before the Cardinals traded for Palmer — as proof.
That season saw the Cardinals use four different quarterbacks, with John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley and late-season addition Brian Hoyer all making at least one start. The team’s QB situation was so bad that season Aaron Schatz, in an ESPN Insider piece, ranked it as the second-worst QB depth chart of the past 10 years.
The Cardinals drafted John Skelton out of Fordham in the fifth round of the 2010 draft. He was forced to start four games as a rookie and was as terrible as you might imagine a fifth-round rookie with only FCS experience would be: Skelton completed just 48 percent of his passes with a miserable 22.7 QBR. So the next offseason, the Cardinals traded cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick to Philadelphia for Kevin Kolb.
Except, Kolb was also dismal for Arizona, finishing 31st out of 32 qualifying quarterbacks with 23.1 QBR in 2011. Skelton came back in when Kolb was injured for a few games but wasn’t much better, with 33.8 QBR. However, he went 5-2 as a starter. Sure, the Arizona defense allowed less than 21 points in each game and all five wins came by less than a touchdown, but Skelton had shown he was “a winner.” That made him the starter in 2012 with Kolb as the backup. Third string belonged to Ryan Lindley, a sixth-round rookie out of San Diego State. All three ended up starting games in a lackluster 5-11 season for the Cardinals.
However, I didn’t rank this as the worst quarterback depth chart of the past 10 years because at least it could be argued that Kolb still had some potential based on his performance with the Eagles. Instead, the top spot goes to …
Schatz ranked the 2011 Washington Redskins, who had Rex Grossman, John Beck and Jonathan Crompton, as the worst QB depth chart, and that’s all well and good.
But fans in Arizona who remember the 2012 season probably will not look down on what Washington had.
The Skelton/Kolb/Lindley/Hoyer quartet combined to throw 11 touchdown passes and 21 interceptions.
Neither Skelton nor Kolb have thrown an NFL pass since that season. The Cardinals released Lindley before the 2014 season, but brought him back after they suffered a rash of injuries at the QB position. Lindley, in fact, started three games for the Cardinals that year — including the team’s playoff loss to Carolina.
Interestingly enough Hoyer, who was mostly an afterthought on the team that season, has experienced the most success of the group. After the Cardinals let him go he landed with the Cleveland Browns, for whom he appeared in 17 games — starting 16 — over two seasons and then last year he played for the Houston Texans.
- Arizona Cardinals release tight end Jim Dray
- Behind Enemy Lines: Arizona Cardinals open home slate against Cowboys
- Dealing Cards: Offense looking to click, Chris Johnson waiting his turn
- All-Access with Bruce Arians: Palmer can take the criticism
- Cardinals speedster J.J. Nelson reveals fear of flying, his playing weight