In what is the understatement of the year, the quarterbacks for the Arizona Cardinals struggled in 2012. Turnovers were a big deal. John Skelton threw nine interceptions. Ryan Lindley threw seven. New Cardinals QB Carson Palmer threw 14 as a member of the Oakland Raiders.
Now, the actual interceptions don't tell the whole story.
Football Outsiders compiles some advanced stats and some other intriguing stats. One such statistic of note is the concept of adjusted interceptions, which takes in to consideration the picks that were tipped by the quarterback's receiver and into a defender's hands, as well as the throws where the defender dropped what should have been an interception. It also adjusts for Hail Mary picks and fourth down throws in the final two minutes of the game (desperation throws)
In 2012, Skelton and Lindley were two of the three worst at the adjusted rate, and Palmer was not super. Lindley had the highest adjusted rate of all quarterbacks at 5.3 percent. In addition to the seven picks he threw, there were two that were dropped. Skelton's adjusted rate was 5.0 percent. He had the nine picks, but one was discounted as a Hail Mary/fourth down desperation throw. But he also had two that were dropped.
Palmer? He is quite the lucky player. In 2012, his adjusted rate was 19th highest. However, the change is what is notable. With 14 picks, he was intercepted 2.5 percent of the time. We discount two picks that receivers caused with a tip, but he had EIGHT potential picks dropped by defenders. His adjusted rate goes up a full percent!
This is no anomaly, either. In 2011, he was the worst in the league, with an adjusted rate of 7.1 percent. He had nine potential picks dropped. Football Outsiders did not compile the number when he was in Cincinnati, but my memory tells me that he was extremely fortunate in 2009 as well.
You would think that should concern fans. It should...but not too much. He is a quarterback who will take some risks. But the fact that the trend of defenders dropping interceptions covers a span of years rather than one isolated season gives me reason to not be too concerned. Is it his arm strength, the ball placement or what?
One of the knocks on Palmer is that he is prone to turn the ball over. It turns out that he also is a bit lucky. They say being lucky is better than being good.
Oh, interesting thing. Not all the Cardinals QBs were terrible. You know who had the lowest adjusted INT rate? Kevin Kolb, tied with Tom Brady. He three picks, but no other throw was dropped by a defender. His rate was 1.6 percent.
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