As an Arizona Cardinals fan you may be thinking that the 2017 season is lost following Sunday’s 0-33 defeat to the Los Angeles Rams in London. Couple the embarrassing display with the loss of starting QB Carson Palmer who was placed on injured reserve following a broken arm in the game. The feeling of crashing back to Earth after the elation felt the week before during Adrian Peterson’s Cardinals debut is especially difficult to handle when it felt like the 2017 season could be saved due to the new dynamic future hall of fame running back taking the place of David Johnson who we lost during the first game of the year.
So, the question must be asked, is all lost? Is a 3-4 team who could not score against a team that allows an average of 19.7 points per game going to rally? The quick answer is, we don’t know… but with Drew Stanton taking over at quarterback it doesn’t look good. He’ll be protected by an offensive line that has been offensive, often struggling with consistency, and now will be asked to protect a QB who is even more statuesque than Palmer and often is the cause for turnovers.
Cardinals head coach, Bruce Arians, made the controversial statement that Drew Stanton will be starting after the bye week to travel to battle the 49ers, Blaine Gabbert’s most recent team as a starter. His bold statements about Stanton having earned the starting position show a level of trust from the Coach that cannot be backed up by the numbers.
Comparing the statistics across the 2014 through 2016 season for the three Cardinals QBs on the active roster we can see how accomplished Palmer has been over that period, even including games missed due to injury. Trying to replace a prolific player like Palmer is never easy, but when comparing statistics, it becomes easy to notice trends and even get a sense of a player’s performance in the NFL.
I’ve always thought seeing graphics helps provide some perspective of statistics and looking across these, it becomes very clear that while Blaine Gabbert is not nearly as productive as Carson Palmer, he has had more recent success in the NFL as a starter with the statistics to back that up.
The Cardinals are technically competitive in the division and wildcard race, and I have to wonder how long Drew Stanton will keep his job as the named starter. In a win now league where every win matters, how many games will they risk using Stanton as the starter before giving Gabbert, the statistically better performing QB, a chance to lead the Cardinals?
Stanton is not the long term answer at QB due to age and performance, the Cardinals need to see what they have in Gabbert, the younger and more experienced starter on the roster, especially with the increasing likelihood that they’ll be drafting very early in the 2018 draft. Why not kick the tires and see if he can perform in this offense?