Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Carson Palmer must step up his game for the remainder of the season for the team to have a shot at the playoffs.
The Cardinals sit at 4-5-1 after the 11th week of this NFL season, and they’re on the brink of elimination from playoff contention. Missing the playoffs, after the expectations that the team had, would be a major disappointment. With six games left to play, they can make up the ground but, in order to do so, must have quarterback Carson Palmer at his best, and must have him be better than he’s been so far.
Palmer started out the season looking like a Super Bowl caliber passer. After a close loss to the New England Patriots and a blowout win versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he had 575 yards passing for five touchdowns and no interceptions, with a passer rating of almost 114. Then things went downhill.
The following week saw Palmer have a terrible game, and his numbers from then until now have dipped tremendously. From week three onward, he has just eight touchdowns to ten interceptions, and his passer rating is just 77. His worst games, though, were the ones he spent away from home. In the three road games this season, Palmer had seven of his ten picks, his two worst quarterback ratings this season, and the team is 0-3. They did win one road game where Palmer was injured and didn’t participate.
One issue has been bad decision making. Palmer has shown a proclivity to throw passes that shouldn’t have been thrown, often into double or even triple coverage. He still has a big arm at 36 years old, but sometimes trusts it too much, leading to negative plays. Injured offensive linemen are also a problem, causing protection breakdowns, which means Palmer stays under pressure.
Four of the final six games in this season for the Cardinals are road games. If they want to have any hope of resurrecting their playoff dreams, they will need to change their fortunes away from home. That starts under center. If he continues to struggle on the road, the Cardinals will miss the playoffs, and this might spell the end for Palmer.