Cardinals' Palmer at a loss to explain struggles

Cardinals QB Carson Palmer has struggled since season opener, but past two fourth quarters offer hope.

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer offered few insights into his struggles over the team's past four games while addressing the media Wednesday at the team's practice facility.

"One thing is not taking a chance on jump balls, one-on-one. We haven't had success doing that, obviously," he said. "But really, just staying within the system, staying within myself, going through my reads, taking what the defense is giving me -- especially with the way our defense has been playing."

Since a promising season opener against the Rams in which he completed 26 of 40 passes for 327 yards with a TD, an interception and a passer rating of 96.6, Palmer has fallen on hard times.

The Cardinals are 2-2 over their last four games, but Palmer has completed 80 of 140 passes (57.7 percent) for 858 yards, three touchdowns and eight interceptions. In those four games, his passer ratings were: 73.5, 43.4, 62.2 and 57.

Palmer is currently the NFL's 30th rated passer (67) and has thrown more interceptions (nine) than any QB except New York's Eli Manning (12). Houston's Matt Schaub also has nine.

Coach Bruce Arians insists he hasn't seen any changes in Palmer's play since Week 1.

"He attacks it every week the same," Arians said. "The best thing about it, when things go wrong, is he can overcome it. He can set it aside and go to the next series. Young quarterbacks struggle with that."

The Cardinals have had more offensive issues than Palmer and those are surely impacting his play. The protection has been a problem often, the running game hasn't been consistent and tight end Rob Housler hasn't been a factor (nor has Andre Roberts lately).

Palmer admitted that at times, he has gotten away from the game plan, even forced the issue to make plays, but he didn't really answer why that was happening when asked directly.

Nor did he speculate on how difficult Arians' offense is to master compared to other offenses in which he has played.

"It's hard to judge it or compare it, but it's different than something I've been in," he said. "You can see at times how great it can be, and when we are all clicking on the same page and there are 11 guys doing everything the right way, it can be awesome. That's what we are working at every day."

The Cardinals haven't come close to achieving the aerial passing game that Arians talked about when he arrived. Arians said Wednesday that the team isn't connecting on the downfield shots as much as he'd like.

"We took six, seven or eight last week," Arians said. "We did not hit on any, I don't believe."

One source for optimism, however, might be this: In his last two fourth quarters, Palmer has completed 13 of 19 (68.4 percent) for 120 yards, two TDs, no interceptions and a 120.5 passer rating. 

The defense has clearly set the table for that success in both games, but when it's come time to win, Palmer has delivered. Maybe that's something to build on.

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