So far in our Carson Palmer series, we have looked at many things -- play action, under center, by down, by direction and more. In today's edition, we will look at his numbers by pass distribution -- the players he throws the ball to.
Pro Football Focus broke the numbers down for the entire league.
How do things look for Palmer?
He threw the ball 572 times. 539 of those were "aimed," meaning the rest were throwaways, balls thrown as he was thrown and balls that were batted down.
Of those 539 attempts, he threw the ball to the following positions:
- 88 times to tight ends
- 106 times to running backs
- 345 times to a receiver
In terms of alignmnent, He threw 401 passes to players (receivers, tight ends or running backs) lined up outside or in the slot.
Throwing to someone lined up like a receiver, Palmer completed 63 percent of his passes for over 3200 yards, 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He would throw the ball an average of 11.6 yards down the field -- one of the highest rates in the league -- and gained 8.1 yards per attempt. That is above the league average in either category.
Throwing to a player lined up outside, Palmer was 162/258 (62.8 percent) for over 2100 yards, 10 scores and 10 picks. His YPA was 8.2 and his throws were on average 12.2 yards down the field. That is right at about the league average.
Throwing to players in the slot, Palmer was 92/143 for 1145 yards, eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Palmer only attempted 88 passes to tight ends. This is not the Arians way and it shows how ineffective the position group was in 2013. He was 67/88 (76.1 percent) for 701 yards, three scores and five picks. His throws to tight ends were short throws -- 7.3 yards down the field on average.
62 of those throws were to a tight up lined up next to a tackle, not in the slot or outside. He was 49/62 (79 percent -- one of the highest in the league) for 517 yards, three scores and one pick. The numbers would suggest that these were the throws to Jim Dray and Jake Ballard later in the season. Rob Housler would figure in some.
Palmer threw to a tight end that lined up in the slot 22 times (This would have almost always been Rob Housler.) Palmer was 16/22 for 168 yards and two interceptions. His yards per attempt was equal to the league average, but depth of throw was the lowest of all that were listed, only six yards past the line of scrimmage.
The numbers for throws to a tight end lined up outside were not listed for Palmer because there were so few. Based on our last couple of paragraphs, Palmer threw the ball only four times. He was 2/4 for 16 yards and was intercepted twice. Yuck.
Looking at the personnel in 2014, we might see even less tight ends in the slot. John Carlson, Jake Ballard and Troy Niklas are more inline guys. Housler is more of the guy in the slot, but he is projected to be the fourth tight end on the roster. Expect more throws to tight ends in general this season, as Palmer was quite effective when throwing it to an inline player.
Throws to running backs:
Remember when Bruce Arians said that running backs weren't there to catch passes? He changed his tune a bit with Andre Ellington playing dynamically as a receiver.
Overall, Palmer attempted 106 throws to a back, completing 82 of them (77.4 percent, below the league average). It was good for 716 yards, three scores and one pick. The 6.8 yards per attempt he averaged was above the league average. Palmer's depth of throw led the league, but that is in part to the fact that Ellington was lined up a lot at receiver and went down the field. Palmer attempted very few running back screens.
Throwing to a back out of the backfield, Palmer was 59/76 (77.6 percent) for 490 yards, three scores and one pick.
Throwing to a running back in the slot, Palmer was 7/11 for 101 yards, leading the league in yards per attempt in this category with 9.2.
Palmer attempted more throws than anyone else in the league to a running back lined up outside. He was 16/19 for 125 yards. That is the Andre Ellington effect.
You will notice one thing about the turnovers. The play at the slot or thr throws to the slot led to more turnovers per throw. There were 10 picks in 143 throws. Throwing to the outside guys, there were 10 picks in over 250 throws. The question will be how much was a talent problem at the position, how much was missed assignments and how much is on Palmer? The team has upgraded the slot receiver position and the tight end positions.
Palmer was effective with throws to the inline tight end and to backs out of the backfield. This agrees with the trend where he did better with quick throws. Pressure wasn't an issue and he was able to make good decisions without getting hit.
Hopefully PFF can run this series again because I for one would like to compare 2013 to 2014 when all is said and done.
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