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Pro Football Focus Ranks Carson Palmer as Middle of the Road Quarterback

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NFL: St. Louis Rams at Arizona Cardinals Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

For the Arizona Cardinals to be special, they need Carson Palmer to be special and through the first quarter of the season, Carson Palmer has not been that.

In fact, it has gotten so bad that after being the toast of Pro Football Focus in 2015, Palmer is now considered a middle of the road starter. Based on Pro Football Focus’ own grades, that is being generous, as Palmer currently ranks 30th in the NFL in Pro Football Focus’ quarterback ratings.

From PFF:

2015 grade: 93.0

2016 grade: 48.1

Regression has been rough for Carson Palmer, as it still remains to be seen if last year’s outstanding regular season is simply an outlier in an otherwise above-average career. He played incredibly well in 2015, throwing with precision to the intermediate and deep levels like no other quarterback in the league; however, a late-season slide (perhaps due to a finger injury) has carried over into 2016, and he’s been far more likely to throw an interception-worthy pass (highest percentage in league) than he’s been to make a big-time throw (17th in league). If he can get even remotely close to last year’s level, the Cardinals will once again become a contender. If Palmer continues his careless play with the ball, though, they’ll be in trouble in the NFC West.

It hasn’t been a good season for Palmer or the Cardinals, and while we haven’t heard much criticism about the quarterback, much of the focus has been on the offensive line and wide receivers, it is clear that Palmer is not playing at the same high level as last year.

That was always the question, was last year the real outlier?

Pro Football Focus tends to think it was, simply an aberration. Look at the career chart for Palmer and you’ll see that last year was clearly his best year, in terms of PFF grading, and while he has been this bad before, it is also not a common thing with Palmer in his career.

He has been consistently a quarterback in the mid 70’s in terms of PFF grades. If we import that to this year he’d be right around the 15th ranked quarterback, where he has been for much of his career.

Maybe last year was the best you could expect from Palmer, or maybe he just needs to get back to playing at a high level.

What do you think?