Carson Palmer did not play well in New Orleans. Although he has only played three games for the Cards, this was his worst showing. Palmer completed just over 50 percent of his passes, threw for only 187 yards and two picks.
And the offense responded to his performance in kind. Big Red scored only seven points. The offense was relatively anemic on third down and only got into the Red Zone twice. That's what happens in the NFL when your Q struggles and that's why quarterbacks get paid the kind of money they do. Most teams go as far as their QB will take them.
The question is why did Carson Palmer play poorly? And the answer is getting old.
The offensive line created a Context of Crisis for Palmer, where every read was a little quicker, every throw a little sooner than it should have been and every decision not as sound as it needs to be. Palmer let the pressure get to him and that is something we have not seen heretofore.
When we watch a QB under duress make bad decisions and/or bad throws, we can empathize with why he didn't execute. It's completely understandable. Coaches are no different. They look at the film, break it down, pick it to pieces and grade every play with the eyes of one who knows the context of every play in which a QB is operating. They understand the situation…but can never accept poor decisions or ill-advised throws.
And this is how I feel about Palmer's performance on Sunday.
It's unacceptable...but I completely understand how it happens. Getting your back waxed by a 300-pounder is something our brains rail against and warn us of -- consciously and subconsciously. Self-preservation and instinct take over and those primal attributes begin to affect our gross motor skills and psyche.
The problem is you cannot be a successful quarterback in the National Football League if you anticipate the hits or expect the hits. A quarterback needs to anticipate the rush but not the hit; and the only expectation they should have is to be successful.
But theory is not reality and the reality for Carson Palmer came crashing down around him on Sunday -- literally.
Palmer is going to be fine; he's not the problem for the Cardinals. He has played very well considering he hasn't had great protection. But, unfortunately, he has got to settle his soul, accept his plight and bear the burden of responsibility that comes with being a quarterback in the NFL.
Being a successful quarterback in professional football translates into big dollars. The rewards are real for crisis management…and so is the punishment.