Carson Palmer's stats last season looked pretty impressive on paper. He threw for 4018 yards with 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Those numbers put him in the top ten in passing yards and just above the average NFL starting QB overall. And yet the Raiders still had one of the worst offenses in the NFL with a 4-12 record to show for it.
The conclusion many have come to is those yards from Carson Palmer were not all they cracked up to be. The term "garbage time" stats has been thrown around like Carson Palmer threw the ball around the yard last season. Typically it's used as a way of saying those yards were easier to come by because there was nothing on the line.
So, I thought it would be worthwhile to find out just how many of those Palmer's yards were padding and how many really mattered.
For this study, I must also point out that passing yards Palmer had after the Raiders were no longer in playoff contention still count. Just because at some point he was unable to get the Raiders in the playoffs doesn't mean those stats were worthless. Garbage time is the time in a game when the stats are no longer meaningful toward the outcome of that particular game.
We start from the beginning of the season and work out way through.
Week 1 the Chargers went up by a score of 22-6 with 5:06 remaining in the fourth quarter. Carson Palmer immediately led the Raiders on a scoring drive, but it was too late. The Chargers were up by two scores at least and the drive took 4:12 off the clock which allowed the Chargers to kneel out the clock and end the game.
Total stats for Palmer: 297 passing yards, 1 TD
Garbage time stats: 64 yards passing, 1 TD
Week 2 the Dolphins went up 35-13 with 5:18 remaining in the game. Anything after that was inconsequential.
Total stats for Palmer: 373 yards passing, 1 TD, 1 int
Garbage time stats: 53 yards passing, 1 int
Week 4 this game was over by the end of the third quarter with the Broncos up 31-6. Anything after that was not going to change the Raiders' fate.
Total stats for Palmer: 202 yards passing
Garbage time stats: 65 yards passing
Week 6 was a close loss to the Falcons 23-20. Palmer threw a terrible interception returned for a touchdown with the Raiders in scoring position. He drove the team back to tie it and in the end the Falcons drove into field goal range and won it. So, though it was at least partially Palmer's fault for the loss, this game never had a garbage time.
Total stats for Palmer: 353 yards passing, 1 TD, 1 int
Garbage time stats: None
Week 9 the Raiders gave up 251 yards rushing to Doug Martin but the Raiders' offense kept them in the game right up until the end. They were down 35-32 when Palmer threw an interception and the Bucs drove for a score to put the game away. But before you blame Palmer for the loss anyway, he is the reason the Raiders were about to get back in the game in the first place after being down by 18 points twice including early in the 4th quarter.
Total stats for Palmer: 414 yards passing, 4 TD, 3 int
Garbage time stats: 5 yards passing, 1 int
Week 10 this game looked to be over shortly after halftime. The Ravens went up by a score of 34-10 on their first drive of the third quarter. Palmer made a valiant drive to score a touchdown on the following drive to make it 34-17. But that was as close as he would get. The Ravens answered with another touchdown and everything after that was window dressing.
Total stats for Palmer: 368 yards passing, 2 TD's, 1 int
Garbage time stats: 106 yards passing
Week 11 For the second straight week, the game was over before the end of the third quarter. The Saints went up 35-10 late in the third quarter and they went through the motions after that and cruise to a win.
Total stats for Palmer: 312 yards passing, 2 TD's, 2 int
Garbage time stats: 120 yards passing, 1 TD
Week 12 the Bengals raced out to a 21-0 lead in the first half but this game wasn't officially in the books until early in the fourth quarter when they took a 27-10 lead. One might argue that there were garbage time yards before that but the Raiders did pull within two scores in the third quarter, down 24-10. Two scores in a quarter is very manageable. They just didn't manage it.
Total stats for Palmer: 146 yards passing, 1 TD, 1 int
Garbage time stats: 49 yards passing
Week 13 the 20-17 result made the Raiders' loss to the Browns seem like a close game. But it wasn't really that close. The Raiders were down 20-10 with 6:04 left on the clock but their drive took so long, it rendered the entire thing worthless. They scored the touchdown and kicked off down three points with :01 on the clock. You can definitely blame that one on the coaches but it still rendered Palmer's stats on the drive meaningless.
Total stats for Palmer: 351 yards passing, 2 TD's, 1 int
Garbage time stats: 102 yards, 1 TD
Week 14 Midway through the third quarter, Carson Palmer fumbled the ball, the Broncos recovered and drove for a score to go up 26-7. Cruise control time.
Total stats for Palmer: 273 yards passing, 2 TD's, 1 int
Garbage time stats: 125 yards passing, 1 TD
His total stats in garbage time during 2012 were:
689 yards passing, 6 TD's, 2 int's
Which makes his adjusted total of stats that truly mattered:
3329 passing yards, 16 TD's, 12 int's
It's kind of worthless to say where his new figure would rank among the other quarterbacks in the league because to do that is to assume those other quarterbacks never had any passing yards in garbage time. It's like saying "What about all those drops by his receivers?" as if every quarterback isn't subject to their receivers dropping passes.
The purpose of this is not to say Palmer deserves no credit for those passes he made in garbage time or to blame him for the fact the Raiders were subject to garbage time at all. It is simply to put an actual number on something many have pondered when deciding how much of Palmer's 4018 passing yards, 22 TD's, and 14 interceptions came during times when the game was still on the line.