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Thursday, October 17, 2013
WRs not always to blame for Palmer woes

By Josh Weinfuss

TEMPE, Ariz. -- When Cardinals coach Bruce Arians started the week by blaming Arizona’s receivers for quarterback Carson Palmer’s poor start Sunday in San Francisco, a few heads turned. Quickly.

Arians said the receivers were in the wrong places early in the game and that’s why Palmer threw two interceptions. But with how Palmer has been playing this season – his 11 interceptions are second most in the league behind Giants quarterback Eli Manning – Arians couldn’t be right in levying all the blame onto the receivers, could he?

As it turns out, Arians was just half right.

Tarell Brown
The 49ers' Tarell Brown made Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer pay for trying to force a pass to Larry Fitzgerald.
Palmer’s first interception, intended for tight end Jim Dray, was actually Dray’s fault.

“It was a crap route by me,” Dray said. “I was just drifting. Carson’s got enough on his plate, I can’t leave him out to dry like that. It’s just a bad play by me.

“It was just a zone coverage and I kept drifting up field and I should’ve sat down. I didn’t give Carson a good enough read. He didn’t really know what I was doing. I kinda messed him up on that. If I had just sat down like I was coached to do, it would’ve been fine. Bonehead play by me.”

But Palmer’s second interception was all his fault.

Just a play before he threw the pick, Palmer was nearly intercepted when Niners cornerback Tarell Brown jumped the route and stepped inside Larry Fitzgerald, but Brown simply dropped the pass.

On the next play, Palmer tried to force a pass to Fitzgerald again in the middle of the field, but Fitzgerald was bracketed on top and bottom and then had two defensive backs coming in from either side. There was a slim chance at best that he was coming down with the pass, which was underthrown and intercepted, in the middle of four defensive backs.

All season, the Cardinals have talked about having nine or 10 players on the same page of Arians’ new offense. Palmer mentioned it again this week, saying it’s a long process without a quick fix. To become fluent in the offense, Palmer added, it takes repetition.

“We got to be on the same page with him,” Fitzgerald said. “We got to make sure that when he’s dropping back he can trust that we’re going to be in the position in places we need to be in so he can be confident when he’s releasing the football.

“That will give him peace of mind that will settle him down. We got to do a better job for him. We got to make it as easy as we can for him.”

It’s one thing when Dray doesn’t sit down on a pass, but it’s another when Palmer tries to squeeze a pass into an opening that’s not there. He got lucky on the play before the Fitzgerald interception, but that luck ran out on the next play.

While Arians is right to an extent, it has been the receivers’ fault at times for Palmer’s mishaps, the men trying to make the catches aren’t totally to blame.