Is Carson Palmer a bridge or anchor at quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals?

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Carson Palmer's first season was a success on paper, but what does that mean for the future?

Shaun Church is awesome, not just because we see the Cardinals a different way, but because his belief in the Cardinals stems from the ability to put numbers down that were not there before.

Shaun more than any other writer on the ROTB staff is a wizard of the stats department, extrapolating the impactful, the non impactful and the downright jaw droppers.

There's a twofoldedness (yes that word is made up) to stats though, and people have been known to bend stats to their favor in order to shape their arguments.

Bulk stats are the worst, most of us can agree on that, as it shows only a fraction of the truth of what is truly going on.

For instance, Carson Palmer has thrown for 24 touchdowns on the season, 24 passing touchdowns in a season would tie him for the sixth most touchdown passes in a single season in Arizona Cardinals history. Actually, in the HISTORY OF THE CARDINALS FRANCHISE (every team ever).

Put that into context this way though, that number 24 put him middle of the pack in the league in 2013. Guys he'll be around include Tom Brady, Ryan Tannehill, Alex Smith, Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick and Andrew Luck.

Without much effort, most would agree that the Cardinals have the most receiving talent out of those quarterbacks listed, so the question becomes is Palmer elevating the play of those around him or is he being elevated?

Here's the craziest stat about Palmer's 2013 season, courtesy of the fine folks of pro-football-refence.com's season finder, Palmer with his 22 interceptions and 10 wins becomes only the 21st quarterback in NFL history to win ten or more games while throwing 22 interceptions.

Of those 21 quarterbacks eight threw for less touchdowns than the 24 Palmer threw this season, and only one was older than Palmer, that was Mr. Ken Stabler who was bridging the gap at the time in Houston with the Oilers, let's hope that Palmer's second season with the Cardinals does not turn out like Stabler's when the Oilers went from 11-5 to 7-9 and Stabler was 5-7.

That begs the question, is Palmer to good to be a bridge but too much of an anchor to be a quarterback to lead the team to that elusive Super Bowl ring?

This isn't to indict Palmer, but to ask the question, with Palmer are the Cardinals going to be consistent contenders that can't get over the hump?

Palmer has been to the playoffs two times in his career and only had three winning season in his career, he's never won a playoff game, and he's followed up every winning season with a .500 season or worse.

The other problem is that the Cardinals don't have a better option readily available.

Sitting at 20 in the draft, with Brett Hundley already returning, doesn't bode well for the Cardinals getting a quarterback in round one of the draft and getting to sit and learn behind Palmer for a year.

Johnny Manziel, Derek Carr and possibly Blake Bortles are all being talked about in round one right now, none of these quarterbacks look ready to make an impact in year one, and all three would be good fits for Arians to sit and learn, but there's already chatter that all three will be top ten picks.

In round two there are interesting, but flawed names:

Zach Mettenberger: Coming off an ACL injury, an already questionable pocket presence and slow trigger begs the question, is Mett the guy to fit into Arians offense?

Arm-wise yes, but his lack of pocket mobility (he's not even Joe Flacco within the pocket, and he's less aware than Carson Palmer) and long trigger are concerns that he may struggle to adapt to the NFL speed of the game.

Brett Smith: Someone that if there at the Cardinals pick in round two I would run to the podium for, Smith is a smaller version of previous Arians quarterbacks, at 6-2, but he has added weight at Wyoming and is a very athletic player.

He lacks zip on the ball when his feet aren't set, and that happens quite a bit as his footwork within the pocket can be... only ok at times.

David Fales: Fales isn't what I would call a fit in Arians offense, as he struggles to drive the ball down the field, but has excellent accuracy and pocket poise.

The other quarterbacks, like Tajh Boyd, AJ McCarron and Aaron Murray are all interesting but flawed prospects that should be available on late day two or day three.

Carson Palmer was a success in every sense in year one from a historical look at the Cardinals, but when you step back and look at the bigger picture, Palmer was average amongst his peers:

11th in completion percentage
8th in yards
12th in touchdowns
19th in touchdown percentage
2nd in interceptions
5th in interception percentage
20th in quarterback rating
20th in ProFootballFocus quarterback rating
15th in Football Outisders quarterback rating
21st in ESPN QBR

We've seen teams get to the playoffs with average quarterbacks plenty of times, we've even seen teams win with slightly above average quarterback performances, hello Joe Flacco, but the Cardinals as an organization need to finally find the answer at quarterback long term, because the longer they rely on Palmer, the less likely they are too find that answer.

There's always next year though -- at least that's what we've said for 27 years.

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