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Wednesday, October 23, 2013
QB Watch: Cardinals' Carson Palmer

By Josh Weinfuss

A weekly analysis of the Arizona Cardinals' quarterback play.

Palmer
Rewind: Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer pulled out a new move Thursday night against Seattle: He ran. For his life. Palmer used his legs more last week to avoid getting hit, showing an athleticism that many doubted he had, and ran away from the defense. It was potentially key to his staying in the game against an NFC West rival and staying healthy for the rest of the season. Palmer again threw two interceptions and twice he forced his receivers to turn into defensive backs, but this game helped Palmer in a way. With how poorly the offensive line performed, it showed that every mistake, every bad throw, can't be heaped on Palmer's shoulders.

Yet again, I underestimated Palmer. I predicted 225 yards and two touchdowns, but he threw for 258 and just one. I was right about Palmer not completely outrunning "the shadows of the proverbial corner." He still made a few bad decisions but it was hard for him to find a rhythm.

Fast-forward: The Falcons don't have a stellar pass rush, which makes the Cardinals' offensive line breathe a hefty sigh of relief. Atlanta has 14 sacks this season. If Arizona can keep the Falcons at bay, Palmer may finally be able to have a breakout game for the first time since Week 1. Atlanta gives up more than 7 yards per pass and has allowed 14 passing touchdowns.

Statistically speaking: After a breakdown of Palmer's stats on Pro Football Focus, the veteran may not be as bad as once thought. He's played the ninth-most snaps this season, surprising considering how often he hands the ball back to the other team. Sure, his 13 interceptions are second-most in the NFL, but he's been sacked 20 times and thrown the ball away and had passes dropped 10 times each. His 266 attempts are sixth-most in the league, and his 60.5 completion percentage is 20th-best. He has the numbers to be a productive quarterback; he just needs to make better decisions and be given more time to do it.

Prediction: I'm going to go out on a limb here and say everyone steps up -- meaning the offensive line, the running backs and receivers -- and helps Palmer, who'll throw for 315 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.