Is Oakland Raiders' Carson Palmer Really a Super Bowl QB?
John Doublin – Aug 3, 2012
Heading into the 2012 NFL Season, Oakland Raiders' starting quarterback Carson Palmer has big things expected of him. This comes with its fair-share of pressure. Pressure from the coaches for Palmer to lead the team and execute head coach Dennis Allen's vision; pressure from the fans to get this franchise back to its winning ways.
Thus far Palmer is saying all the right things. In a recent interview, Palmer stated that he was excited about the upcoming season, that the team is really beginning to gel and he expects to win a lot of games in 2012.
What else was he going to say?
The big question about Palmer is: Did the Raiders get the 2005 version of Palmer, where he completed 67.8% of his passes, threw for 3,836 yards, 32 touchdowns and only 12 interceptions on his way to the playoffs and a Pro Bowl appearance? Or, did the Raiders get the 2010 version of Palmer that led the Bengals to a 4-12 record while throwing 20 interceptions?
Some "experts" like to say that ever since the knee injury delivered by the Steelers' Kimo Von Olhoffen in the 2005 playoffs, Palmer has never been the same. Statistically, that may be true. However, Palmer has had games in which he looked like the Heisman Trophy winning, College National champion he is, and other games where he looked downright awful.
So, is Palmer a Super Bowl quarterback? Technically, no. He's not. He's never won a Super Bowl and he's never led his team to the Super Bowl. In fact, he's never won a single playoff game.
Let's remember, the mainstream sports media is never going to give any Raider their due until they win it all. According to ESPN and the other "haters," Jim Plunkett was the biggest quarterback bust in history—until he won two rings. The same was true for Stabler before him—no credit until there was no choice but to recognize them.
Yet somehow, Tony Romo is an "elite quarterback?"
One cannot be called a Super Bowl quarterback until he has been to a Super Bowl, so perhaps the more important question is: CAN Palmer be a Super Bowl quarterback?
To answer that, we have to examine what it takes to be a Super Bowl quarterback. What is required from a quarterback to get a team to the biggest game of a given year?
Accuracy: The first thing all Super Bowl quarterbacks have in common is accuracy. Montana and Stabler weren't going to throw the ball 70 yards in the air, but it was always in the right place and catchable when it arrived 40 yards away.
After watching the passes Palmer made to fullback Marcel Reece down the seam against the Browns, and to Jacoby Ford on the sideline of the endzone against the Chargers, it's clear Palmer not only has accuracy, but has incredible accuracy.
Poise: Another factor that contributes to being a Super Bowl quarterback is poise. Poise in the huddle; poise on the sideline; poise in the pocket.
When you see Palmer standing strong in the face of pressure in the Thursday night game against the Chargers last season and deliver a perfectly thrown bomb to Denarius Moore, it's clear poise in the pocket isn't an issue. He has that.
When you observe Palmer on the sideline discussing an unsuccessful series or a turnover, he never seems to get confrontational with coaches. He listens, asks questions and learns. That's poise.
Leadership: One thing Palmer has been most criticized for is his leadership—or lack thereof. Some former teammates have called him out for not putting in 100% and for blaming others for his own failures. It's not clear where that comes from, but it has yet to manifest itself in Oakland.
Watching Palmer interact with players that drop passes or miss blocks reminds this author a lot of Rich Gannon. Like Gannon, Palmer isn't afraid of letting a player know when they need to pick up their game—in a confrontational, borderline angry way.
Palmer also took it upon himself to lead informal, voluntary workouts with the Raiders' young receiving corps in the offseason. This is something that speaks volumes about Palmer's desire to be prepared for success.
Good decision making: This is an area in which Palmer could get himself into trouble. For the most part, he gets the ball out on time and to the correct receiver. However, there are occasions when he relies on his arm strength a bit too much and attempts to force the ball into windows that simply aren't there.
As far as pre-snap reads of the defense and calling out the protection scheme for the offensive line, Palmer does a fantastic job. Rarely do you see an unaccounted-for rusher get to Palmer unblocked. This may be a result of his self preservation instinct taking over, but the result is all that matters.
With a full offseason to prepare and a returning Darren McFadden to bring the running game back up to full strength, Palmer will have all tools he needs to improve on this, the only chink in his proverbial armor.
Decision making? Only time will tell.
The verdict: Is Palmer a Super Bowl quarterback? The answer to that is a simple no, since no player can be considered a Super Bowl player until they actually play in the big game.
Answering whether or not he can be isn't as cut-and-dried. Unequivocally, yes—Palmer CAN be a Super Bowl quarterback. He as the physical tools and leadership to lead the Raiders to the biggest game of the year, but he'll need to improve his decision making for it to come to fruition.
Ultimately, if you really think about it, Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer are technically Super Bowl quarterbacks. No disrespect to them, but most teams and coaches would choose Palmer over either of them.
Maybe that's the true test of a player.
Like Raider Nation Times
How Would You Grade the Raiders Live Mock Draft?