Arizona Cardinals starting quarterback Carson Palmer is out for the rest of the season. He tore his ACL on Sunday in the fourth quarter of Arizona's 31-14 win over the St. Louis Rams. Now it is Drew Stanton who will lead the Cardinals the rest of the way. Arizona stands now at 8-1 and has the inside track to the top seed in the NFC.
Can he be the guy?
The team is saying all the right things for now. Head coach Bruce Arians told Peter King, "There is no doubt in my mind we can win a Super Bowl with Drew Stanton."
He told the media postgame, "Like I said from day one, I'm always comfortable with Drew at quarterback."
Defensive end and team captain Calais Campbell said he team is confident in Stanton and went as far to say "he's a great quarterback," citing what they see from him in practice.
Stanton already has started three games this season. He is 2-1, but Arians doesn't pin the loss on Stanton. ""He didn't lose any because he didn't finish the one that we did lose," he said after the game.
Stanton's numbers look like this -- he has completed just under 50 percent of his passes (46/93) for 614 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. He has a passer rating of 81.6.
Those are respectable numbers.
The key? No turnovers.
Looking ahead, the question is whether or not the Cardinals can achieve their potential, which at this point should be a championship, with Stanton.
He would not be the first backup quarterback to take a team to a Super Bowl win. In fact, there have been nine, as noted at Arizona Sports. Since 1990 it has happened four times -- Jeff Hostetler with the Giants, Kurt Warner with the Rams, Trent Dilfer with the Ravens and Tom Brady with the Patriots.
Arians doesn't plan on doing anything different in practice with Stanton, "except maybe a little sliding practice," he noted when he spoke to the media on Monday.
He said Stanton will have to be a little less careless with his body.
"He just has to play a little smarter at times because he does love to run," Arians explained. "But he's got to be smarter and slide."
Of course, Arians says that and we might remember on of the plays where he got hit the hardest was when he did slide. He did not suffer a concussion then, playing the 49ers, but it did happen against the Broncos.
"He's proven to everybody that he is more than capable of doing and finishing the job this team has started," Arians continued. "We just need to get him to slide a little better, throw some balls away, get rid of some 'machoism' sometimes and that's hard to do sometimes because you don't want to change a way a guy plays, but we need him out there."
The Cardinals are in a great spot. They are atop the NFC. But they haven't relied on great quarterback play to get wins. Palmer played well, but he wasn't the reason the team had been winning. The defense has done its job. Palmer had not been turning the ball over.
That formula should continue to work.
The one thing where there is a difference is Palmer is a guy you know can win a game for the team. He can put the team on his shoulder and be a star. Stanton? we don't know. The fact he has always been a backup would lead one to believe he probably isn't that guy.
What are your expectations for Stanton for the rest of the season?