Thearon W. Henderson
Some people will tell you numbers never lie. Others will tell you they almost always lie. In sports, the answer lies somewhere in between.
Carson Palmer is on the cusp of becoming just the second ever 4000 yard passer in Raiders history. He needs 195 yards to do it and it stands to reason he will surpass that number against the Chiefs on Sunday.
With a few big arm quarterbacks over the history of the Raiders, you would think more of them would have went over the 4000 yard but no, only Rich Gannon surpassed it. He blew it out of the water as a matter of fact, throwing for 4689 yards in an MVP season to lead the Raiders to the Super Bowl.
Not only is Palmer on the cusp of 4000, he is on pace for 4683 yards which would be near Gannon's all time Raider record.
Palmer is far from an MVP this season and the Raiders are even farther from the Super Bowl. That alone would tell you the numbers are close to meaningless. As it stands, Palmer's season is more on par with the guy he is most certain to surpass for second all time in Raiders history - Jeff George.
George reached the 3917 yard mark in 1997. That season the Raiders went 4-12. If the Raiders can beat the Chiefs on Sunday for the second time this season, they will sit at four wins on the season with a bleak outlook to get any more before season's end. Oh, and by the way, Jeff George was replaced the following season.
Jeff George was known for having a big arm but lacking those qualities necessary in a quarterback to win. Palmer has done better than that. He has had two winning seasons including going 11-5 and 10-6. Plus he is not the head case the likes of Jeff George (few have ever been). But thus far he has yet to prove he has that extra something to lead a team to the promised land.
The numbers he has put up this season are part and parcel to the lack of a running game in Oakland. It also is attributed to the porous defense forcing him to resort to putting the ball in the air more often. The good news is we do now have evidence that he is capable of putting up those kind of numbers. His pace has him eclipsing any of those he had previously in his career and he has done it in a new offense.
The bad news is we have no evidence he can put the team on his back and lead them to victory. Everyone likes to talk about what could be if Palmer has help from his teammates. There is a point to be made there. But great quarterbacks make their teammates better. The offense revolves around them and is built around them. We have little evidence he can be that guy.
If the coaches see those qualities, his numbers will be something upon which to build for next season. If not, his numbers will be a placeholder as the team looks to build for the future.