We looked at Carson Palmer and his throws by down and we found that he was pretty consistent from first to third down.
That isn't the case when it comes to performance by quarter.
Pro Football Focus broke down the league's quarterbacks and how they did by quarter. Let's look at Palmer.
Palmer was not good in the first quarter.
He dropped back 127 times and was sacked seven times. He scrambled twice. His completion percentage was solid -- over 65 percent on 77/118 attempts. The issue is decision making. He threw for three touchdowns and NINE interceptions. Nearly half of his picks were in the first quarter.
Another interesting fact -- his yards per attempts was still reasonably high --
7.9, but his average depth of throw was just under eight yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
Suddenly in the second quarter he is better. he attempted 160 second quarter passes. He was sacked 15 times. He was 99/160 (good for 61.9 percent completion rate) and threw nine touchdowns to three interceptions -- the exact opposite of the first quarter.
His throw attempts went farther down the field -- 11.5 yards beyond the line of scrimmage on average, and his yards per attempt was solid at 7.7.
It goes downhill again. Palmer is 84/137 (61.3 percent completed) for 1032 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Again, he is making deeper throws (10.1 yards down the field is the average per throw) and his yards per attempt is 7.5 yards.
The final quarter again he turns it around. He was 102/157 (65 percent completion) for 1087 yards, seven touchdowns and only tree interceptions.
His yards per attempt goes down some to 6.9 as does his depth of throw (9.2 yards down the field).
For whatever reason, whether it be the scripted plays or players on the offense not knowing their role or failing to execute it, or Palmer just is more likely to make riskier throws -- he just has bad things happen early.
What is interesting is that the numbers show that he isn't taking riskier throws down the field -- he averages shorter throws in the first quarter than in any other. In the second quarter, he throws the ball deeper than any other quarter and is more effective, but in the second half, it is the opposite. He throws the ball deeper in the third than in the fourth, but is better late in the game.
What you can see is that he adjusts well. Whether he is more likely to try and thread the needle in a very small window early or he has not caught on to what opposing defenses doing, he does better after he has made mistakes.
And perhaps it is that -- he focuses better once he has made mistakes. He doesn't get flustered. He goes out and plays.
But you can see that he is clutch in the fourth quarter. That is probably the veteran experience. He can read defenses and make adjustments, while at the start of a game he is following a script.
Can the Cardinals be a playoff team with such a contrast in play from quarter to quarter? Probably not. The interceptions are the biggest thing. We know that many of those were because of bad routes by receivers, so Year 2 of Palmer with the Arians offense should look more even.
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