Hold your horses, desperate fans and writers looking for an easy story: Going into Week 8, Carson Palmer isn't going anywhere.
The Raiders have compiled a record of 2-4, and have looked dreadful in the process. It hasn't been all bad, but it has been far from good regardless.
With Oakland not looking like a playoff candidate, we may start hearing calls for the team to bench its starting quarterback in favor of Terrelle Pryor, current third-string quarterback and heir apparent to the throne of Palmer.
First of all, Oakland is 2-4. The Denver Broncos currently lead a weak AFC West at 3-3. The race for the playoffs is still wide open, and there is absolutely no reason to give up on the season just yet.
Palmer hasn't been bad. If people were to look past the stat sheet and take a look at the game film, they would see a quarterback leading a team with a bad defense, a shaky offensive line, receivers that aren't fully healthy and his main offensive weapon, Darren McFadden, not putting up the kind of production the team is used to seeing.
Despite all of this, Palmer is keeping this team competitive.
People may want Pryor to start to see what he's capable of, and that's understandable.
Hypothetically speaking, say the Raiders lose three of their next four games and find themselves far removed from the playoffs. Starting Pryor (or second-string quarterback Matt Leinart) wouldn't have anything to do with going with the player that gives you the best chance of winning you games. That player, clearly, is Palmer.
On the surface, this makes sense. The season is over, so let's see what the other guys can do. But what signal would that send to Carson?
Starting quarterbacks don't like getting benched in favor of the younger guy. It messes with their confidence, and tells them the team doesn't really believe in them. The head coach would basically be telling Palmer that the team is more interested in looking for his replacement than actually win games.
Not that Palmer would have a choice. He's stuck with the Raiders, as they are stuck with him. Oakland gave up a king's ransom to obtain his services and wouldn't be interested in letting him walk for a lot less than that. And while his play hasn't been horrible, no team is going to be willing to pay him the kind of money he's currently getting.
Before Oakland can even think about benching Palmer, there's two questions that need to be answered: Given his age, is there enough time to bring in the necessary pieces to surround Palmer and challenge for a Super Bowl? And more importantly, is Palmer even good enough to lead the Oakland Raiders to a Lombardi Trophy?
As long as the Raiders' front office can't answer these questions, benching Carson Palmer isn't an option. He gives the team the best chance to win in a season that is far from over.
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