Arizona Cardinals: Philip Rivers

A tale of two Mondays for MNF QBs

September, 5, 2014
Sep 5
TEMPE, Ariz. – Carson Palmer’s luck on “Monday Night Football” can only get better, especially from the last time he was showcased in the prime-time slot.

It was Week 1 of 2012, and Palmer was entering his first full season with the Oakland Raiders. They were playing the San Diego Chargers, who had become wily Monday night veterans by then, in the second game of the opening-weekend doubleheader. Palmer was playing under a new head coach, Dennis Allen, and the quarterback was moving the offense efficiently in the first half. But when long snapper Jon Condo suffered a concussion in the second quarter and the Raiders turned to his backup, their plans of opening the season with a victory started to unravel.

Three botched punts led to three Chargers’ field goals and a 22-14 loss for Oakland.

“I remember that happening and it being a mess,” Palmer said. “But this is a different team. They are a different team. There is a new staff. There are new players all over the place.

“Obviously, this is a new team, different team. Don’t really put much weight in that game.”

[+] EnlargeCarson Palmer
AP Photo/Rick ScuteriArizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer takes a three-game "Monday Night Football" losing streak into Monday's game against the San Diego Chargers.
That game was Palmer’s third straight loss on “Monday Night Football” after starting his career 2-1, a streak he takes into Monday night against the Chargers at University of Phoenix Stadium. Even though Palmer’s teams haven’t been victorious on Monday nights, he’s a career 61.1-percent passer in those games, averaging 224.5 yards per game. He’s thrown seven touchdowns and four interceptions on Monday nights.

For comparison, Palmer is a career 62.6 percent passer.

While he might be on a different team, the Cardinals’ history on MNF isn’t much better than Palmer’s 2-4 career record.

Arizona is 6-15-1 all-time on Monday nights and, like its quarterback, owns a three-game losing streak dating to 2008. The Cardinals’ MNF winning percentage (.295) is the second worst in the NFL since the 1970 merger, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

To make matters worse, the Cardinals are 1-8 on MNF since moving to Arizona in 1988 and are 1-6 at home during that span.

The Chargers come into Arizona treating “Monday Night Football” as old hat. They are 8-5 since 2006 under Philip Rivers, who is a career 64.8-percent passer on Mondays. He’s thrown 24 touchdowns to 10 interceptions.

Rivers, 32, said he’s used to playing on Monday night and even more used to playing on the road. He’s started 2012, 2010, 2009 and 2006 on Monday night on the road, but his last three MNF appearances have all been at home.

So he understands the importance of pacing himself as to not get too prepared too early.

“I don’t know that once you get out there, you’re thinking about the fact that it’s Monday night,” Rivers said. “Obviously, the build-up for the game has a little more to it and you’re the only game on and you’re waiting all day to play. It’s not like a Sunday night, when you’re watching games all day before you play Sunday night.”

“Monday, there’s nothing on before you. It’s a little different from a getting-ready standpoint, but I think once you’re out there, you’re not thinking about what day it is or what night it is or what channel you’re on. You’re just out there playing ball.”

Final 2013 preseason QB snap counts

August, 30, 2013
Six projected starting quarterbacks played in their teams' final exhibition games of the 2013 preseason. The Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson and the San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick were two of them, and both led touchdown drives before exiting after one series. None of the NFL's projected starters got hurt Thursday night.

The chart shows week-by-week snap counts for quarterbacks I singled out as projected starters heading into preseason. NFC West alums Kevin Kolb and Matt Flynn might not start after all, but I've left them in the chart for context.

St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher has generally played starters in the final preseason game. He did not this time.

"Typically I have, but I guess in the new world that we’re in, it’s hard to," Fisher told reporters after the Rams' game against Baltimore. "What that implies is that I'm pleased with where they are right now, those guys that sat. They worked hard. We got a great workout and it allowed them to fast-forward their minds to Arizona."

Fisher could have been alluding to the run of higher-profile injuries around the league this summer. Last year, the Rams lost rookie defensive tackle Michael Brockers to a high-ankle sprain in the final preseason game.

The Rams emerged from this preseason healthier than their division rivals. That did not stop the 49ers from playing their offensive starters or the Seahawks from playing starters on both sides of the ball Thursday night. The Arizona Cardinals rested most of their starters, though Michael Floyd was one notable exception.

San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh offered no explanation for playing his starting offense one series. Kaepernick hadn't gotten many snaps through the first three games, however. Getting additional reps for Kaepernick and the team's group of emerging receivers made some sense on the surface.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll went into the final preseason game saying he wanted starters to play because the team values this games as competitive opportunities.

Looking back on three things discussed here before the Arizona Cardinals' third exhibition game of the 2013 preseason, a 24-7 defeat at home against the San Diego Chargers on Saturday night:

1. Whisenhunt homecoming. Former Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt returned to University of Phoenix Stadium as the Chargers' offensive coordinator. His quarterback, Philip Rivers, averaged only 3.9 yards per attempt and threw one interception with no touchdown passes. However, the Chargers' first-team offense put together a 92-yard touchdown drive and generally outperformed the Cardinals' starting offense on this night. Both teams' running games were effective early. That provided some consolation for the Cardinals until the team lost running back Rashard Mendenhall (knee) and rookie first-round guard Jonathan Cooper (ankle) to injuries of unknown severity. Cooper rode a cart off the field and wasn't putting any weight on his left leg after the injury. Another player flew into his left leg from the side and behind, causing Cooper's left ankle to roll inside out. A serious injury to Cooper would undermine the team's efforts to upgrade the line. That seemed particularly true on this night, when the Chargers' Dwight Freeney dominated against Cardinals left tackle Levi Brown.

2. Williams at running back.Third-year running back Ryan Williams returned to practice late in the week and made his 2013 preseason debut late in the third quarter. Williams, troubled by knee issues lingering from a 2011 injury, gained 5 yards on his first play. He was the fourth running back to get carries in this game, after Mendenhall, Alfonso Smith and Stepfan Taylor. Rookie Andre Ellington was shaken up returning a kick right before Williams went into the game. Ellington then went back into the game on offense, replacing Williams. Williams returned when Ryan Lindley took over at quarterback in the final five minutes. He carried one more time and gained 5 yards. He ran well on his two carries. Time could be running out for Williams. Three other recent high draft choices for Arizona -- Cooper, tight end Rob Housler (ankle) and nose tackle Dan Williams (knee) -- left this game with injuries. Rookie seventh-round tight end D.C. Jefferson also left with an injury. This was a brutal night for Arizona.

3. Red-zone offense. The Cardinals wanted to focus on this area after settling for four field goals and a 12-7 victory in their most recent preseason game. They scored one touchdown in two red-zone possessions against San Diego. Housler dropped an accurate pass from Carson Palmer in the end zone, killing the first opportunity. Receiver Michael Floyd made an impressive leaping grab in the back of the end zone to score on the other red-zone possession. This was progress, in a way, but the shaky pass protection and injuries likely prevented Arizona from enjoying it.