Go to Google (or Bing if you’re a rebel), and search “Carson Palmer Jake Delhomme.” Some two-hundred thousand articles pop up, the most recent ones are columns drawing parallels between Delhomme’s downfall to the potential for the Arizona Cardinals quarterback to fall flat this year.
The basis is that both were aging quarterbacks that couldn’t keep up the pace on a big stage. Palmer’s four interceptions in the NFC championship incited those fears and his preseason woes affirmed them. Now Palmer is starting to show that those who doubted him based off the preseason simply fell into confirmation bias.
Right now, Palmer sits pretty with a passer rating of 113.7 and joins Drew Brees and Philip Rivers as the only quarterbacks to throw five touchdowns without an interception this season. The only knock against him is the Cardinals lost the opener to the seemingly unstoppable New England Patriots.
Palmer can really prove the doubters wrong with a solid outing against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
While the Bills haven’t been the most daunting challenge for quarterbacks, they’ve at least held their own, having allowed just two touchdowns and one play over 40 yards through the air this season. The most daunting challenge is avoiding their pass rush that’s forced a sack on 6.94 percent of dropbacks this season led by Jerry Hughes on the edge.
As a nice anecdote, the last time Palmer met the Bills in 2010, he helped build a 17-point in the first half only to let the Bills go on a 35-point run. Different teams, different schemes. But his history with this franchise hasn’t been pretty, and he can only redeem himself from there.
But even the Cardinals have mixed relations with the Bills, as the last meeting in 2004 saw Larry Fitzgerald go catch-less for what he said was “probably the first time in my life I didn’t catch a ball.” Right now he’s holding strong to a catch streak of 181 games, and he’s been wildly successful these past few weeks with 158 yards and a league-high three touchdowns to open the season.
Though, it might be in Palmer’s best interest to find someone aside from Fitzgerald to prove he doesn’t have to rely on just one set of hands to be successful. Of course, he’ll be targetted, but spreading the wealth can only help the Cardinals’ cause. In particular, getting John Brown more involved would be a good omen.
Brown currently sits with just two receptions on seven targets for 22 yards, certainly not the hot start he was expecting after surpassing a thousand yards last year. Though, the third-year receiver seems to be taking it in stride.
But if Palmer is to be taken seriously again, rekindling that connection will be vital. So far his second-leading receiver is David Johnson out of the backfield with 141 yards on seven receptions. That has largely to do with Johnson’s ability to run after the catch. Wise playmaking on Palmer’s part, getting the ball into a playmaker’s hands but until he can incorporate like Brown and even Michael Floyd to a great extent, people will still question just what quarterback is playing.
Is it Palmer the MVP? Or has Delhomme reincarnated?