Carson Palmer's season was okay. He ended up with over 4000 yards passing and 24 touchdowns, but did throw 22 interceptions. He came in to an offense in which passing down the field is important. So let's take a look at his numbers by the type of throw. The numbers of course come from Pro Football Focus's article that gave those number for all the quarterbacks in the league. See where Palmer ranks in each category.
By depth of throw, this means from the line of scrimmage to where the ball was thrown. A ball caught eight yards deep in the end zone, but thrown with the line of scrimmage at the two is a throw of 10 yards (down the field).
On throws between 1-10 yards past the line of scrimmage, Palmer was 168/231 for 1436 yards, seven TDs and seven INTs. 40 percent of Palmer's throws were within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. On average those throws were five yards past the line of scrimmage and on average it was a five-step drop. As you can see, there were plenty of interceptions. The pass catchers were not great at getting yards after the catch, gaining only 3.5 yards per throw of this type. In contrast, Aaron Rodgers' pass catchers ran almost six yards per throw within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. This was 6.2 yards per attempt. That is a QB rating of 86.1.
On throws between 5-10 yards past the line of scrimmage, Palmer was 91/137 for 918 yards, four TDs and four INTs. Those throws were on average using a five-step drop and were on average 7.3 yards from the LOS. The team only got 3.0 yards after the catch per throw of this type. This was 6.7 yards per attempt. His QB rating was 82.9.
Using that info, we can see what his numbers were on throws between 0-5 yards. He was 77/94 for 518 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions -- 5.5 yards per attempt.
On throws between 11 and 20 yards down the field, Palmer led the league in attempts with 150. This where you can see that the offense is designed to push the ball down the field...not necessarily all on deep balls, but using the intermediate passing game. Palmer was 88/150 (58.7 percent completion) for 1636 yards, 10 TDs and seven INTs. That is 10.9 yards per attempt. On average those attempts were between 14 and 15 yards down the field. His QB rating on these throws was 99.2
On throws 21-30 yards down the field, Palmer's numbers drop. He completed only 12/42 passes (less than 29 percent completion rate) for three scores and four picks. His QB rating was 47.7. Yuck.
On all throws 20+ yards, the numbers don't get much better. He was 23/74 (31.1 percent completion rate) for 737 yards, seven scores and eight picks. It is a paltry 61.4 QB rating.
On all throws 30+ yards, Palmer was 8/26 (almost 31 percent completion rate) for 314 yards with three scores and four picks. His QB rating was 76.9.
Between 31 and 40 yards down the field, Palmer still struggles more. He was 3/14 for 88 yards, two TDs and two INTs.
However, on throws 40+ down the field, he fared better. He was 5/12 for 226 yards, one score and two picks.
Take away the throws 40+ yards and you can see that he really struggled with the deep ball between 20 and 39 yards down the field. That would be 18/62 (29 percent completion rate) for 511 yards (only 8.6 yards per attempt on deep throws), six scores and six picks.
You can see that, despite the claims of Steve Keim and Bruce Arians that Palmer had as good an arm as ever, he really struggled down the field. In part, you have to look at pressure numbers. While he had an average of 2.76 seconds from snap to his throws 20+ yards down the field, he had pressure on average after 2.38 seconds. On throws between 11-20 yards, where he did his best work, the time to pressure was 2.37 seconds. When you getting pressure just as quickly as the shorter throws, this will affect the throw quality.
Clearly, decision making was an issue underneath.
Turnovers down the field will happen. They are risky throws. Cut out some turnovers in the short and intermediate game and complete a couple more down the field, that incremental improvement will go a long way.
But when it comes to those "home run balls" that Bruce Arians preaches, Palmer struggled. Maybe the addition of greater speed in Ted Ginn and John Brown will improve things -- better separation down the field and more space in the short and intermediate game as a result -- but Palmer simply was not good at the deep game.
He still is a good fit in the Arians offense because he does have a very good intermediate game, which is every bit as important, but, like he has been for a couple of years now, he just isn't a good down-the-field passer.
We'll look at more Palmer numbers over the next few days as well.
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