With the way the NFL has turned over the last decade, the days of having a game managing quarterback be the "answer" at quarterback, or be good enough to get your team over the hump seems to be gone.
While Joe Flacco, Eli Manning and even last year’s Super Bowl winning quarterback Russell Wilson are not yet in the realm of Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning, they do offer their teams the ability to make plays throughout the game, and more importantly not turn the ball over at crucial times.
If you look at the numbers each displayed during their teams run to Super Bowl wins, they all have similarities:
2011 Manning post season: 106/163 65% 1,219 yards 9 touchdowns 1 interception
2012 Flacco post season: 73/126 58% 1,140 yards 11 touchdowns 0 interceptions
2013 Wilson post season: 43/68 63% 524 yards 3 touchdowns 0 interceptions
While Wilson’s numbers were not nearly as gaudy as those of Manning and Flacco’s, they show the importance of a quarterback that can make plays, but do so without fear of turnovers.
Manning and Flacco both missed the playoffs in 2013 because they didn’t have nearly enough help around them, but on top of that, both were careless with the ball when they were asked to do more than they were capable of.
In that regard, you have to feel like there is a great chance for the Cardinals in 2014, with Carson Palmer employed at quarterback, to get on a similar hot streak and make a run to and through the playoffs.
Palmer’s 2013 season was a tale of two parts, as Palmer finished the last eight games of the 2013 season with a 14 touchdown eight interception mark, as the Cardinals were a healthy 6-2 in that stretch.
Then there is the question about the 2014 NFL Draft, and whether or not a quarterback could be in play, and some people, many people look at that idea and scoff.
"Look at Palmer’s last nine games of 2014," they’ll say.
He picked up the offense, and turned it on to the tune of a 7-2 record, with losses coming to two playoff teams.
The part that many with this thought are missing is one simple thing: Palmer will be 35 by the time the playoffs roll around, and the success rate of quarterbacks drops stunningly about this time.
What happens with Palmer is yet to be determined, but out of the numerous quarterbacks who have played past the age of 35, few have been successful.
Since 1970, post merger NFL, 35 times has a team had a quarterback that started 16 or more games as a 35(+) year old quarterback, and it was only done by 23 different players.
Of those 23 players, 16 players have won nine or more games; they include four Hall of Famers and guys like Brett Favre, Kurt Warner, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning who will be in the Hall soon.
That’s why when reports from Peter King come out saying the Cardinals are "sweet" on quarterbacks like Derek Carr and AJ McCarron, they should not be taken lightly.
Steve Keim was around for the Kurt Warner years, and understands the fragility that is the older quarterback, and while he will not "force a pick" the idea that Carson Palmer could become one of the few that has ever been successful past the age of the 35 is not something he wants to bank his career on either.
Steve Keim has proven thus far that he understands the road he must navigate to not only get the Cardinals to where fans want them to go, but also to maintain that throughout his tenure, his hopefully long tenure, as Cardinals General Manager.
If Keim believes in a quarterback at 20, or 52, or 84, then there’s no reason to believe he wasn’t the "best player" on the Cardinals board when they picked.
Of course, picking the wrong quarterback quickly bring an end to his tenure as GM as well.
The safe thing to do may be waiting until the right quarterback comes around, but who knows when that may be.
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