Jason vs Palmer: some obscure stats and a professional evaluation

Campbell has done a lot of good things for us and I am very appreciative of his efforts.  I feel that comparing him to Palmer is not only unfair but also somewhat rude. But making comparisons is how we think, it's how we perceive value. The first thing that comes to mind when you get something new is to see how it compares to the one  you already have. Well atleast that's how I justified writing this to myself. So take a moment to appreciate Campbell's contributions and let's see what we've got...

Question: Some people knocked on Campbell saying that he was indecisive and held the ball too long. Is that true? How does Palmer compare?
Answer: In 2010 Campbell took 16 sacks because he held the ball for longer than 3 seconds. That's 5th worst in the league. Palmer on the other hand only took 4 sacks all season long for holding the ball that long. Other starters with such low numbers are Drew Brees at 5 and Eli Manning at 1. The difference between Campbell and Palmer is even more significant when you notice that Campbell only had 329 passing attempts last year while Palmer had 586. This is not a perfect metric by any means but it's good enough. As JJ Cooper explains:

3 seconds [is a good] demarcation line because it's a pretty fair cutoff point for where a sack can no longer be blamed on a quarterback's blockers. The median sack time in the NFL last year was 2.7 seconds, just as it was in 2009. Obviously a line should be able to hold a three-man rush back longer than a eight-man all-out blitz, but for practical purposes, three seconds is the point where a quarterback should generally know that he has to get rid of the ball.

Question: It was usually an unpleasant sight to see opposing teams blitz Campbell. How will Palmer fare?
Answer: This has to do with the ability to read coverages and making fast decisions. Campbell appeared to struggle with both. Campbell's QB rating was 11.7 points worse in blitz situations vs non-blitz situations. Palmer's on the other hand was better by 5 points. Another interesting fact is that Palmer was less likely to get sacked in blitz situations compared to non-blitz situations.

Question: Palmer probably won't give us a Brady/Manning type season. But are his 2010 stats a good indication of what to expect?
Answer: Palmer threw for ~4000 yards and 26 TDs in 2010. We haven't had anyone do that in Oakland since Gannon's 26 TDs in 2002. We'll be happy if he replicates those kind of numbers. But there is reason to expect better. Why? For one, Palmer had the second toughest schedule(in terms of passing defenses faced) of all QBs last year (Brady had the toughest). Secondly, Palmer threw almost a quarter of his passes to T.O. who has led the league in giving up interceptions for 5 years in a row. Third, according to Wall Street Journal film study confirms that 9 of Palmer's interceptions last year were due to the receiver running the wrong route.

Tl;dr: At 31 years of age after having lost some arm strength to an elbow injury, Palmer is not an elite QB by any means. But he still is, as Al Saunders said, a real quarterback; something we haven't had since 2002. I'll conclude this post with Reed Albergotti's evaluation of Palmer in Sunday's game.


Palmer of the Raiders was called onto the field for his Raiders debut after spending the entire season in semi-retirement fueled by an impasse with his former team, the Cincinnati Bengals. The nine-year NFL veteran looked rusty and sluggish. His three interceptions were the tent poles of a humiliating 28-0 loss.

Palmer's debut with the Raiders against Kansas City Sunday was—how do we put this charitably—a bit below the threshold of what might be considered excellent. During about 30 minutes of football, Palmer had three interceptions and a woeful 38% completion rate.

It's important to note that until the middle of last week, Palmer had no idea he'd be playing for any team. After he reportedly demanded a trade from the Bengals, the team decided to do nothing instead, essentially making him a retiree. Finally, the Bengals traded him to the Raiders for draft picks. "Show me a player who can get off up the sofa and can jump into an NFL game," Wilcots says.

Last season, Palmer threw for an impressive 3,970 yards and 26 touchdowns and completed 61.8% of his passes. The biggest knock on him was his 20 interceptions, the third-highest in the league. But a look at the tape of those interceptions shows Palmer's picks weren't entirely his fault: Nine came on plays where there was an apparent misunderstanding about what route his receiver was supposed to run. (Wilcots, a former player for the Bengals, says it's been an open secret in Cincinnati that Palmer's numbers have suffered because of receivers who haven't fully grasped the playbook.)

During Sunday's game, one of Palmer's best plays was an incomplete pass in the fourth quarter. On a second and 10, with Palmer lined up in shotgun with three receivers, Kansas City ran a disguised blitz and sent six men after the quarterback. Palmer took three steps back, set his feet and in less than two seconds, launched the ball 34 yards to receiver Louis Murphy. The ball, which was slightly overthrown, hit Murphy's left hand and fell to the turf.

On paper, it was another incomplete pass. But what's important to NFL coaches is that Palmer quickly made the right read and that his receiver had a chance to make a play.

On another fourth-quarter play, Kansas City ran a safety blitz up the middle. It was the same kind of play that led to two Tebow sacks on Sunday. Palmer read the blitz, knew where the open guy was going to be and released the ball in 1.5 seconds. Murphy was hit in the numbers with a perfectly thrown ball. Again, he dropped the pass.

Another thing to note: While one of Palmer's interceptions resulted from a bad read of the defense, another came off a tipped pass that had been thrown on target. The third was the result of a miscommunication between Palmer and one of the receivers he just sat down with for the first time last week.

Wilcots says Palmer should be able to ease nicely into Oakland's offense, which is similar to the West Coast offense USC ran when Palmer won the Heisman Trophy there. It revolves around the running game and play-action passes and is significantly less complicated than the one run by Cincinnati last season.

Palmer has shown the ability to dissect a defense, monitor up to five passing routes and release the ball—in less than two seconds.

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