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How Carson Palmer played both well and poorly against the Pittsburgh Steelers

How is this possible?

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer has had a solid season so far. In a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, he threw for over 400 yards, completing 29 of 45 throws. Pro Football Focus graded him very highly -- a +5.6 for the game. But when head coach Bruce Arians was asked on Monday how Palmer played, he gave a different answer.

"Average to poor," Arians told reporters. "He made a lot of throws and we made a lot of catches, but we didn't execute very well inside the 20-yard line."

Can a guy play poorly while amassing so many stats and making so many good throws?


Should Palmer have gotten such high grades from PFF? Yes.

It seems conflicting, but it really is not.

PFF grades look at every play and determine whether a player made a positive impact, no impact or a negative impact on the play. There were certainly a lot of plays Palmer positively impacted. His ball placement on a lot of throws was spot on. The PFF numbers show he has been money on intermediate throws between the numbers. Such was the case again on Sunday, when he completed 8/9 for 123 yards.

However, when the Cardinals got down into scoring position, Palmer was less effective. He threw the critical interception in the fourth quarter, when he failed to make a read and didn't see the safety. He badly underthrew John Brown on one throw in he end zone in another instance when he was wide open.

That is where Arians is looking at things. Yes, Palmer moved the ball well between the  20s, but he didn't execute as well when it counted. That would take  good game down to average or even poor. He threw two interceptions. That is bad. One was on a bad throw. The other was a ball Jermaine Gresham probably should have caught.

But Palmer is expected to get the Cardinals in the end zone. with 469 yards of offense and only 13 points, he didn't do his job.

As was noted on the Burns and Gambo Show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, Palmer was the guy he was while in Cincinnati -- a volume passer with a lot of numbers, but not great at getting the team in the end zone and winning games.

So, yes, a player can simultaneously have a good game and a poor one. It is how you look at it.

The Cardinals need Palmer to be more than the guy he was in Cincy. They need him to be not only good until they get in the red zone. They must get in the end zone. They cannot afford poor Palmer play in the red zone.

It has been said for some time how the season rides on Palmer's shoulders. Let's hope they are strong enough.