Oakland Raiders: Comparing Carson Palmer to Other AFC West QBs
John Doublin – Jul 11, 2012
With just 18 days remaining until training camp starts, news of the Oakland Raiders has been scarce. No no player signings, re-signing, cuts or acquisitions whatsoever. It is indeed, the "slow time" in Oakland.
In this dead time, Raider Nation Times has been doing a series of articles called, Know Your Enemy. David Wilson is covering each team in the AFC West as a whole and Jerry Rump has been doing a position by position breakdown of how each team matches up with the Raiders at each spot on the field.
Now, it's time to discuss the most important position on the field, the quarterback.
Much has been made of AFC West quarterbacks recently. If you believe everything the mainstream sports media tells you, Peyton Manning has turned the Broncos into a Super Bowl contender, Philip Rivers is going to magically turn around his dismal performance in 2011 to lead the Chargers to the promised land and Matt Cassel is being considered one of the most under-rated quarterbacks in the league.
Forgotten in all of this is Raiders' signal-caller, Carson Palmer. No one is talking about him, covering him, interviewing him or giving him any chance to lead the Raiders to the playoffs—or even respectability.
Whatever! Since when has Raider Nation given a hoot about what the mainstream media has to say?
Let's have a look at how Palmer compares to the other quarterbacks in the AFC West.
Matt Cassel-Kansas City Chiefs: When the Chiefs signed Cassel from the New England Patriots, he was coming off of a very solid season in which he led the Patriots to an 11-5 record. Due to a great turnaround season from Tony Sparano's Dolphins, that great record wasn't enough to make the playoffs.
Cassel's best year came in 2010 with the Chiefs. A 58.2% completion rate, 3,110 yards, 27 touchdowns and just seven interceptions is a solid season, but hardly worthy of the Pro Bowl berth he received.
Does anyone reading this honestly believe that numbers like that would have resulted in a Pro Bowl nod for a Raiders' quarterback? Not a chance.
Cassel would be best classified as "adequate," but not much more. He doesn't have the arm strength, the accuracy, the experience, the "football IQ" or the fiery leadership that Palmer does.
There really is only one attribute that Cassel has over Palmer. Mobility. Well, that's good for Chiefs' fans because behind that offensive line, he's going to need it.
The Chiefs' line is one of the best run blocking lines in the league, but often struggle in pass protection as evidenced by Cassel being sacked an average of 30 times per season and missing eight games due to injury since arriving in Kansas City in 2009.
Phillip Rivers-San Diego Chargers: Perhaps the most hated player in Raider Nation, Rivers has had a decent career after being traded to the Chargers on draft day 2004. However, most would agree that the Giants got the better end of that deal—with two Super Bowl rings on Eli Manning's hand, it'd be tough to argue that sentiment.
Rivers has a strong arm, but not as strong as Palmer. He is an accurate passer, but not as accurate as Palmer. He reads defenses pretty well, but not as well as Palmer. Unlike Cassel, one can't even say Rivers is more mobile that Palmer.
The Bengals didn't surround Palmer with as much talent as the Chargers did Rivers. The fact is, most teams would take Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates and LaDainian Tomlinson over Chad (Johnson) Ochocinco, Reggie Kelly and Rudi Johnson.
In fairness, Rivers' career numbers are better on average than Palmers', but again—that really comes down to system and supporting cast. Palmer played under Marvin Lewis, who is a defensive minded head coach, with the distinction of being the architect of one of the greatest defenses in history, the 2000 Baltimore Ravens.
Rivers had one of the most successful regular season coaches in history, Marty Schottenheimer, and now has one of the best offensive coordinators in history, the architect of the dominant offense of the 1990's era Dallas Cowboys, Norv Turner.
All of this leads to just one conclusion: If Palmer had the coaching, the system and the supporting cast Rivers has had in his career, his numbers would be similar or even better than Rivers'.
Both are talented, but Palmer gets the nod based on doing more with less help.
Peyton Manning-Denver Broncos: What can be said about Manning that hasn't already been said? If Rivers is the most hated quarterback in the AFC West, then Manning is the most talked about of late.
Of course, the mainstream media "hype machine" is singing Manning's praises and the Broncos' band wagon is filling at an astonishing pace.
Manning's arm strength used to be elite, but reports are saying that since his multiple neck surgeries, his arm strength is only "above average" now. Advantage Palmer.
As for accuracy, there are few quarterbacks in history more accurate than Peyton Manning. When it comes to "football IQ" there aren't any quarterbacks better than Manning.
As for mobility—even Palmer is more mobile than the statue that is Manning. Palmer will not threaten a defense with his feet, but Manning is about as mobile as the Rock of Gibraltar, if even that.
The battle between these two will come down to supporting cast. Palmer has a much better one in Denarius Moore, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford and Darren McFadden than Manning has with Eric Decker, DeMarius Thomas, Andre Caldwell and Willis McGahee.
Then, there are the offensive lines. This is where the Raiders' quarterback, (regardless of who it is) will have an ENORMOUS advantage. The Raiders' front five were ranked 4th overall last season by ProFootballFocus.com, which takes pass protection stats and running game proficiency into account when grading the big men up front.
The Raiders "big uglies" allowed just 25 sacks last season, while the Broncos allowed 42. Keep in mind this number would have been much higher for the Broncos had Tim Tebow, (the most hated name in Raider Nation until his trade to New York) not been such an athletic/mobile quarterback.
The Broncos have done almost nothing to improve their offensive line in the 2012 off-season. They drafted a center in the 4th round, but literally added no one else to the interior of that line. The fact is, the Broncos' guards are absolutely horrible in pass protection and general manager, John Elway, (the most hated in Raider Naiton until his retirement) didn't do anything to help protect his shiny new quarterback.
If you ask most defensive coordinators how to beat a Peyton Manning led offense, the majority of them will say, "Get pressure in his face." This is exactly what teams are going to do in 2012, and the Broncos don't have the personnel to stop them. Peyton Manning is one solid hit away from retirement and it's highly likely he'll take that hit early in the 2012 season.
Make no mistake, Manning was one of, if not the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the game—but as the old cliche' goes, "That was then, this is now" and he is not the same player he was in Indianapolis.
In closing: Should Raider Nation expect Carson Palmer to get to the Pro Bowl? Maybe, maybe not. Should Raider Nation expect Palmer to throw for 5,000 yards, 50 touchdowns and zero interceptions? Absolutely not. But, can Raider Nation expect Palmer to perform as well as, or even better than the other quarterbacks in the AFC West?
The Raiders have more offensive talent than every team in the division, more defensive talent than Denver and San Diego, and the Raiders have the most hungry coaches, the hungriest players and the most motivated general manager in the division by a wide margin. Don't think for one second that head coach Dennis Allen or general manager Reggie McKenzie are going to settle for mediocrity from this 2012 Raiders' squad.
The team and coaches have been put on notice that the "Scholarships" are gone and that every player will have to fight for his job. If any of them think McKenzie and Allen are bluffing with this statement, go ask Stanford Routt and Kamerion Wimbley if the "New Era" of Raiders' management are serious or not!
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