NFC West: 2013 Week 3 QB Watch NFC

QB Watch: Cardinals’ Carson Palmer

September, 25, 2013
A weekly analysis of the Arizona Cardinals' quarterback play:

Rewind: This wasn’t the type of game the Cardinals had in mind when they traded for Carson Palmer. He started 4-for-5 on the opening drive, leading Arizona to a touchdown that quieted the Superdome. Then he went 10-for-23 on the next eight drives, all of which resulted in punts as the Saints outscored the Cardinals 31-0. But it was a slow decline. Palmer began that stretch 5-for-6 and then tailed off.

So I was wrong. Brutally wrong. I predicted Palmer would throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns. He finished with 187 yards, and the Cardinals’ 247 total yards were less than Palmer’s individual marks the first two games.

Fast-forward: Palmer will have to decide whether it’s worth throwing to Larry Fitzgerald with Bucs CB Darrelle Revis on him all game. Chances are Revis will be in single coverage, which Fitz enjoys because of his fundamental route running. That also allows the Bucs to double-cover Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts. Look for TE Rob Housler to break out.

Shake, rattle and roll: Palmer looked rattled after getting hit a few times against the Saints. His demeanor changed, and he appeared to rush his passes and decisions a little. But when he’s given time, Palmer is very accurate and can pinpoint his throws. The key, however, is him staying off the ground, which isn’t in his control every play. But when he’s hit a few times, Palmer turns into a different quarterback.

Prediction: These are getting harder because of the play of the offensive line. If Palmer stays upright, he can get back on track with 200 yards or more and two touchdowns. If he’s hit, we might see another performance like the one against New Orleans.

QB Watch: 49ers' Colin Kaepernick

September, 25, 2013
A weekly examination of the San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback play.

Rewind: Colin Kaepernick had his second straight poor performance in Week 3, a 27-7 home loss to Indianapolis. Kaepernick threw for 150 yards, but most of it was in garbage time. He had two completions in the first half. Kaepernick has thrown for 277 yards in the past two games combined after tossing for a career-high 412 yards in Week 1 against Green Bay.

Fast-forward: Kaepernick doesn’t have much time to fret about his issues. The 49ers play at St. Louis on Thursday night. Kaepernick completed 32 of 49 passes against the Rams last season. The Rams' defense allowed Dallas’ Tony Romo to throw three touchdown passes in a 31-7 Dallas win Sunday.

Downfield daze: Last season, Kaepernick enjoyed success throwing the ball 10 yards or farther. But the past two games, Kaepernick has completed just 2 of 13 passes on such plays. That type of futility allows defenses to tee off on an offense.

Prediction: Kaepernick should improve Thursday. The 49ers have real receiving issues, and tight end Vernon Davis is dealing with a hamstring injury. I don’t see Kaepernick having a great night, but I see him completing 18 of 31 passes for 242 yards and two touchdown passes.