FTP: Can Palmer pass for 5,000 yards?

August, 27, 2014
8/27/14
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Flush the Pocket will be your daily morning dose of the Arizona Cardinals. It'll recap the top story line from the previous day and give you a look at what everyone is saying locally and nationally.

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Can Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer throw for 5,000 yards in 2014?

Only five quarterbacks in NFL history have at least one 5,000-yard season. NFL.com's Gil Brandt seems to think Palmer could be the sixth.

Palmer
"The guy that's going to surprise everybody with 5,000 yards this year ... I think he's going to have a big year simply because he's got three really good receivers. One of them is my guy (rookie receiver) John Brown," Brandt said.

Palmer threw for a career-high 4,274 yards last season but that still left him 726 yards short.

So could Palmer throw for 5,000 yards? It'd take a few big games from the 34-year-old and a whole lot of consistency. Breaking down his 2013 numbers, Palmer, and the rest of Arizona's offense struggled in the first seven games, going 3-4. Palmer threw for 1,741 yards over that stretch, an average of 248.7 per game. Over the next nine games, in which Arizona went 7-2, Palmer threw for 2,533 yards, which averaged 281.4 per game.

If Palmer had averaged that rate for all 16 games, he'd have only totaled 4,503 yards, still well short of 5,000.

Palmer had just one 300-yard game in his first seven last season and two under 200 yards. By comparison, he had two 300-yard games and two 400-yard games in the final nine -- but he still had two games under 200 yards.

Neil Greenberg of the Washington Post broke down Brandt's claim that Palmer could hit 5,000 yards this season, but by leaving out a few key numbers. Greenberg shows Palmer was set up for a 5,000-yard season but came up short across the field.

"He would have needed another two to three regular season games (97 attempts) to reach it," Greenberg wrote. "He would also likely need a couple of 1,000-yard receivers."

Palmer had one in Michael Floyd, who had 1,041 yards, but Greenberg didn't mention Larry Fitzgerald had 954 yards on 82 catches -- and that's with finishing with fewer than 70 yards in every game from Week 2 to Week 12. It didn't help Seattle held Fitzgerald to 17 and 18 yards, respectively, in their two wins last season.

They both hit those numbers without having a firm grasp of the offense through the first seven games. They have that understanding now, which could lead to their receiving yards increasing early in the year.

"In seven of the eight 5,000-yard seasons, the quarterback had two wideouts with at least 2,100 receiving yards between them. In the lone exception (Drew Brees, 2008), there were four receivers with 500 yards or more," Greenberg wrote.

"The Cardinals might have had a chance at four with 500 or more yards receiving with last year's roster, but the departure of Andre Roberts (471 yards) makes it tough. That means Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd would need to be the 1-2 punch in Palmer's chase for 5,000."

Greenberg didn't mention Arizona almost had another 500-yard receiver aside from Roberts in tight end Rob Housler, who had 454 yards.

But what was missing from Greenberg's dissection were the receivers Arizona added this offseason, both of whom could have a bigger role than Roberts did last year. Brown should be good for about 500 yards with his speed and how much the Cards will look to him. Ted Ginn, who was signed during the offseason, had 556 yards last season in Carolina.

And running back Andre Ellington will be lining up outwide more this season, so he can add another few hundred yards. And that's all without the tight ends.

Hitting 5,000 yards is difficult, but if there's a season for Palmer to do it, it's 2014. He has all the pieces in place. They just have to figure out how to share the football.

In other news...

Kent Somers of AZCentral.com writes about Jonathan Cooper's turf toe.

Bob McManaman of AZCentral.com writes about the pass-rushers who Arizona's defense studies.

Craig Morgan of FoxSportsArizona.com writes about the risk in evaluating Cooper's injury.

Chris Wesseling of NFL.com previews the Cardinals.

Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com writes about the speed added on offense.

Kyle Odegard of AZCardinals.com writes about rookie kicker Chandler Catanzaro living a dream.

Josh Weinfuss

ESPN Arizona Cardinals reporter

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