Best is Yet to Come for Carson Palmer

I was recently having a discussion with Oz and it left me inspired to write this post. We were talking about Carson Palmer. After something Oz said I realized that the position many of us have on the Carson Palmer Trade might actually depend on our perception of his career with the Bengals. I know for me I have always thought highly of Carson throughout his career, but that is not the case for all of us.

I think we can agree for the most part that the compensation we gave the Bengals was exorbitant, but I don't like that his tenure with the team is probably always going to be judged by the amount we paid for him. His start with us has had ups and downs, to put it lightly. I think the judgement on the trade should still be reserved, although some people already think that the trade is horrible and that there is no argument to dissuade them. Despite that thought process and the impossibility of dissuading them probably being true, I am still going to try. I am too much of an optimistic not to at least try!

Jump over for more....

Anybody that has read previous posts from me knows that I am a Homer and often wear rose colored glasses so anything I say should be taken with a grain of salt. Here are his career stats:

Carson Palmer Career Stats 2003-Present
Year Team G Att Comp Pct Att/G Yds Avg Yds/G TD TD% Int Int% Lng 20+ 40+ Sck SckY Rate
2011 Oakland Raiders 9 285 171 60.0 31.7 2,336 8.2 259.6 11 3.9 15 5.3 61T 37 10 17 119 77.2
2010 Cincinnati Bengals 16 586 362 61.8 36.6 3,970 6.8 248.1 26 4.4 20 3.4 78T 45 9 26 201 82.4
2009 Cincinnati Bengals 16 466 282 60.5 29.1 3,094 6.6 193.4 21 4.5 13 2.8 73 36 5 26 213 83.6
2008 Cincinnati Bengals 4 129 75 58.1 32.2 731 5.7 182.8 3 2.3 4 3.1 36 7 0 11 67 69.0
2007 Cincinnati Bengals 16 575 373 64.9 35.9 4,131 7.2 258.2 26 4.5 20 3.5 70T 51 8 17 119 86.7
2006 Cincinnati Bengals 16 520 324 62.3 32.5 4,035 7.8 252.2 28 5.4 13 2.5 74T 52 15 36 233 93.9
2005 Cincinnati Bengals 16 509 345 67.8 31.8 3,836 7.5 239.8 32 6.3 12 2.4 70T 43 9 19 105 101.1
2004 Cincinnati Bengals 13 432 263 60.9 33.2 2,897 6.7 222.8 18 4.2 18 4.2 76T 34 8 25 178 77.3
2003 Cincinnati Bengals 0 -- -- -- 0.0 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 0.0
TOTAL 106 3,502 2,195 62.7 33.0 25,030 7.1 236.1 165 4.7 115 3.3 78 305 64 177 1,235 86.1

Now in 2003 he was a rookie behind Jon Kitna and did not play. In 2004 it was his first year starting and he had 18 TDs and 18 interceptions in 13 games, which is not horrible and not great. He did have a completion percentage over 60 and average 222.8 yards which are very decent stats for a first year starter. He also showed his deep ball accuracy with a 76 yard touchdown.

The year 2005 was undeniably his best year. His completion percentage was 67.8% and his QB rating was 101.1 which is great for a single game, let alone an entire year. He also showed he is capable of making better decisions with 32 TDs to only 12 INTs. He averaged an impressive 239.8 yards per game and played in every game that season. In fact there are only 2 years where he missed any games out of injury in his 9 years of playing. That is actually pretty impressive durability. Unfortunately for Carson 2005 was the year that he had a horrendous knee injury in the first round of the playoffs against Pittsburgh after only 1 pass.

In 2006 he returned from that terrible knee injury and performed a lot better than many people think he did. He was not able to duplicate his 05 numbers but he did come pretty close. The stat that went down the most was his completion percentage dropping down to 62.3 percent. His yardage did go up to 252.2 per game, but his TDs went down to 28 with his INTs going up by 1 to 13. His QB rating was good at 93.9. This year though was the beginning of him becoming disgruntled in Cinci after being unable to return to the playoffs.

For 2007 his interceptions skyrocketed to 20 and I believe it is because he started feeling like he had to do everything himself. He still had 26 touchdowns but it means far less when it is accompanied by 20 INTs. He still had a 64.9 completion percentage which is impressive and had a decent 86.7 QB rating. The Bengals had another disappointing season and finished 7-9. This was his first year starting that he did not finish at least 8-8.

2008 was a hard year for Palmer where he had another devastating injury, this one to his elbow. He only played 4 games and did not play well in those. It was the only year he did not have a touchdown pass of 60 or more yards. He came into this year with bad body language and was beginning to show real signs of being unhappy. He would have a horrible 69 QB rating for that injury shortened season.

He definitely loss some velocity on his throws after the injury. He had the least amount of yards per game averaged in 2009 for his entire career at 193.4. His interceptions were lower at only 13, but so were his TDs at 21. I think his interceptions were lower because he did not trust his arm to attempt some of the more dangerous throws. His QB rating was still 83.6. They finished an impressive 11-5 but lost badly in the playoffs. To me even with the success he seemed to be ready to leave Cincinnati.

The Bengals decided that one prima donna WR wasn't enough and decided to add T.O. for the 2010 season. With Palmer playing despite obviously being unhappy he still put up ok numbers. He once again ended the season with 26 TDs to 20 INTs which were the same as he did in 07. We had Bengal fans come over and adamantly claim that a number of those interceptions were from the receivers not running their correct routes. The Bengals season was horrible all the way through and finished 4-12. Palmer had finally had enough with the Bengals organization and eventually forced his way out of Cinci.

Whew! That was a lot of numbers! Now we are finally at this year. He has had some horrible games for us that have left his numbers looking grizzly. He has more INTs than TDs for the first time in his career outside of his shortened year in 08 at 11TDs and 15 INTs. However, I think that shows that he will only get better for us. His QB rating is a pedestrian 77.2 but that is almost 10 points below his career average. Take away the first Chiefs game and he is at 11 and 11 for his TD/INT ratio as a Raider. Still not good enough but that looks a lot better.

He is averaging 259.6 yards per game with us though which is the best of his career. I think that shows the talent we have at WR more than anything. He is throwing for more yards per game than ever before with his worst completion percentage of any season that he played at least half of. That gets me very excited for our future with him. He has consistently played all around better than he has for us throughout his entire career and yet he is consuming more yardage than ever before. That gives reason to believe that he is more than capable of playing at a higher level than he has as a Raider.

His Career Averages end up being 62.7 completion percentage, 236.13 yards per game, 1.55 TDs per game, 1.08 INTs per game, and a 86.1 QB rating for his career. Compare that to 60% completion percentage, 259.6 yards per game, 1.22 TDs per game, and 1.66 INTs per game with a QB rating of 77.2 and I understand the frustration some feel. Those stats are low but they are not indicative of the player we now have. He now has more weapons than ever before and he is just scratching the surface of what he can do with them. He is beginning to look comfortable and that is before he has had an off season in Hue's offense.

I think his career stats show that he is not nearly so prone to interceptions as he seems. This is his 9th year in the league and he has had less than 14 interceptions in 6 of his 9 seasons. This season's numbers are completely different than any across his career and really show that we haven't seen the real Carson yet. Right now he is trying to do too much and is not playing his game yet. When he calms down he is going to show us that he is special. He is not as far from a good season as it feels. This season is an anomaly for him and when he gets used to being here he is going to show us why we traded for him. We need him to be the 12-13 INTs per season Carson, and there is every reason to believe we will get him in the near future. No team wins Super Bowls because of one player, but Palmer's numbers show with the right team with him he is more than capable of getting us to the promised land in the years to come.

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