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Quarter season review - Carson Palmer

Carson Palmer

The franchise quarterback has been anything but perfect. His projections are slightly behind last year's numbers through four games. But last year's schedule gave Palmer the chance to come out of the gates hot while this year he's facing a tougher schedule with injuries at key positions; not to mention his own recovery. Palmer had to play at Arrowhead in sloppy weather, the intense rivalry at Pittsburgh and against the never-die Patriots who always find a way to win. His offensive line is suspect and, at least from my perspective, the chances of hurting his knee again makes him hurry the pass; unlike last season where he could calmly remain in the pocket.

One thing I've noticed this season is the absence of the deep pass. I know that Houshmandzadeh's absence prompted the opposing defense to watch Chad more. I know Palmer is always on the run not allowing him to sit back and wait for the deep routes to develop. Losing Henry didn't help the team against the Patriots. I know all this. Palmer, last season, had eight passes of 40 yards or more -- only one (46 yards) this season. He had 43 passes of 20 yards or more last season -- only 10 this season. The inability to stretch the field is making it harder to find rhythm in the passing game on the short to intermediate routes.

His completion percentage (62.5%) is down from last season (67.8%). He's had one game with 300 yards or more and didn't reach 250 in his other three. In two of his four games he hasn't thrown a touchdown but has at least two interceptions in two games.

I'm not good with grading systems - too easy to throw out one of five arbitrary letters - so I just wanted to reflect on the first quarter of his season.

  • Through the first four games, Carson Palmer is 12th in passing yards, tied for fourth in touchdown passes and ranks 13th with an 88.8 passer rating.
  • Palmer's pass protection problems are evident. His 15 sacks are tied for second with -- you'll pout after this -- David Carr.
  • Of his four interceptions, three were when the Bengals were winning the game.
  • Palmer's passer rating with three receivers is deceptively low -- 80.0. Palmer missed T.J. Houshmandzadeh through the first two games and Chris Henry last week. Which means, in the first two games, Kelley Washington was your outside #2 receiver on three wide sets -- Henry played the slot. The top three receivers only played in one game together.
  • On the bright side, on two wide receiver sets, Palmer has a 116.3 passer rating.
  • The Football Outsider's DPAR (Defense-adjusted Points Above Replacement), which "represents the total number of points scored due to plays where this QB passed or carried the ball, compared to a replacement-level QB in the same game situations", ranks Palmer 23rd with a 7.7 (108.3 last season). His DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average), which "represents value, per play, over an average QB in the same game situations" is below average with a -0.1 (34.5% last season). You can read more about the quality work Football Outsiders does here.
  • Palmer has a 61.5% completion rate in the red zone.
  • In the first half, Palmer has a passer rating of 95.1; a 77.0 in the second half. Palmer has a rating of 81.9 at home but has 100.2 away.
I don't think Palmer is playing badly. Not even close. His guts and dedication brought him back without missing a game surprising 90% of the NFL community. His numbers are down for a variety of reasons; few of which are his fault. I have no reason to believe this trend will continue; even with the tough defenses upcoming.