Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer had a season to remember in 2015. Then he had a postseason to forget. After the best quarterback season the Cardinals have ever had (and that includes players like Kurt Wrner, Jim Hart and Neil Lomax), he didn't play well against the Packers and then had the famous six-turnover performance in Carolina.
According to SI's Don Banks in a recent column, Palmer is under a whole lot of pressure in 2016.
He is right.
But this is nothing new. People have been saying this since the Cardinals' season ended.
That's the stark reality that Palmer faces in 2016. It boils down to this: After an MVP-level season, Palmer experienced a monumental meltdown in the playoffs for a Cardinals team that was on the cusp of a Super Bowl. And in built-to-win-now Arizona, the Super Bowl remains the goal. There's pressure of varying degrees on a host of starting quarterbacks this year, but for Palmer, the heat on him is at a whole different level. And it can't be dismissed for months and months.
Arizona is in a unique situation for its franchise. It has never experienced sustained success. They had a flash in the pan playoff appearance in 1998. They had a two-year run with Kurt Warner. Now they are a real Super Bowl contender. The pressure is the fact that of all the expected Super Bowl contenders for this coming season, Palmer (along with Andy Dalton in Cincinnati) is the one guy who has not had any playoff success.
That's where the difference is.
Palmer got the unfair playoff monkey off his back with the win against the Packers, but he still has the reputation of a guy who crumbles in big games.
The memory of Carolina does nothing to help that.
But the truth is really no one played well. The defense gave up 17 first quarter points. Patrick Peterson muffed a punt when the Cardinals looked like they were getting back in it. The secondary played terribly.
It is true Palmer perhaps the most pressure on him this season. There is nothing he can do during the 2016 season that will answer the postseason doubts. We all have to wait until January. It is Andy Dalton territory.
But Banks is off base with one thought -- the notion Palmer has lost the trust of his teammates.
A very real issue that will go largely unspoken this year in Arizona is how Palmer must somehow regain the trust of the teammates and coaches he let down last January.
This. Is. Absurd.
There is no trust lost in Palmer. Every man in that locker room and every coach on that staff knows Palmer got them where they made it last season. He had a historic season. No one doubts him. He is the unquestioned leader in the locker room.
It would have been one thing had Palmer been the weak link in Carolina. But the offensive line couldn't protect him. There were dropped passes. The defense couldn't stop Ted Ginn or Philly Brown. Peterson muffed a punt.
There are no trust issues. There is blame to share.
There is pressure on Palmer and the entire Cardinals squad. 2016 is a crucial year. The championship window is open now. It might come crashing down in a season when the Cardinals have almost everyone with expired contracts. There is pressure on this team that no other Cardinals team has ever seen. It is expected to be good.
But to say Palmer has to earn trust back? That's not even close to the truth.