Carson Palmer had a career year in 2015 at age 36, passing for 4,671 yards and 35 touchdowns while compiling a career-best 104.6 passer rating.
But after all of the good feelings Palmer built among the Arizona Cardinals fan base and general NFL onlookers, it all came crashing down in a disaster of an NFC Championship game last winter in which he threw four interceptions, lost two fumbles and watched the Super Bowl dream slip away in a 49-15 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
Now, when you combine that with a less-than-impressive preseason in which Palmer threw three interceptions in his final two appearances, and suddenly the Chicken Littles have emerged, whispering that the sky just might be crashing down on Palmer’s career.
It is certainly fair to wonder about the future of a guy who only had one other season in his career in which he had a passer rating over 100 (101.1, in 2005). And it’s also fair to worry about a veteran having his best season at age 36.
But while it is logical to expect that Palmer would regress some from his amazing 2015 season, that doesn’t mean he will fall off the table completely. One bad game against an elite Carolina defense, while certainly disappointing for the Cardinals, does not necessarily spell doom. And one shouldn’t place too much stock in preseason performances, when veterans tend to go through the motions and merely focus on making sure they have kicked off the rust.
Palmer, for his part, simply shrugs things off and says he’s ready to move forward and have a successful 2016 campaign.
“You just move on,” Palmer told the team’s web site. “You start working on what you need to improve on and preparing for what’s ahead, not what’s behind. There’s no other choice.”
And the Cardinals themselves don’t seem to be worried.
Tight end Darren Fells said “He took more blame than I think he should have, but he’s like a rubber band. He bounces right back.”
And defensive tackle Frostee Rucker, a teammate of Palmer’s since USC, says “I’ve known him for so long and been in this business long enough to know that you have to kind of have the hater repellant and let it roll right off of you, and get back to what you know how to do best. It just sucks that you get criticized for one day at the office, when you’ve probably made the company a whole lot of money. It’s unfortunate, but that’s what we signed up for. Kid’s game, king’s ransom.”
Fair or not, that’s what sports are all about. It’s a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world, and what Palmer has done lately is have disastrous playoff game followed by uninspired preseason performances.
That doesn’t mean the sky is falling on Palmer and what should be an excellent Cardinals team, it just means that he is going to have to endure questions about his play until he changes the narrative on the field.
He can begin doing just that on Sunday night at home against the New England Patriots.