This weekend will mark the 10th anniversary of Carson Palmer winning the Heisman Trophy, but, as he gets ready to face the Denver Broncos on Thursday Night Football, things are not so promising for the Oakland Raiders’ quarterback.
Division-leading Denver has developed into one of the stingiest defenses in the league. At the moment, the sexy statistic is that they have forced interceptions in their last seven games, while Palmer has given up interceptions in eight straight.
At 32 years old, Palmer was never meant to be the full-time starter when he was acquired in 2011. Instead, he was a short-term solution to an injured Jason Campbell, who had put the Raiders in position to win the AFC West.
A 3-9 start is not explicitly Palmer’s fault, however. In losses, he has averaged over 300 yards and sports a 61.3 completion percentage versus just 59.0 percent in victories. Nevertheless, the season is all-but-over for the Raiders and now is the time to start evaluating for 2013.
Now, with just Terrelle Pryor and Matt Leinart to turn to, it seems high time that Pryor get his shot with the team that took the chance on him.
Denver travels to Oakland on short rest Thursday, but still has the upper hand with a defense that is seventh in the league versus the rush and sixth against the pass.
When these two first met in Week 4, the Broncos held Palmer without a touchdown and just 220 yards through the air. The result was a 29.4 QBR for the former No. 1 overall pick. Denver figures to do the same in their second meeting if Oakland cannot come up with something new.
That’s where Pryor fits in.
The trend recently has been to turn to young and mobile quarterbacks like Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick. Even Andrew Luck can break a big gain if he needs to and has five touchdowns on the ground this year.
At Ohio State, Pryor rushed for a total 2164 yards in three seasons with the Buckeyes.
The only true rushing quarterback that the Broncos have encountered this season was Cam Newton in Week 10. Denver’s combination of Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller took care of Newton handily, holding the slumping sophomore to just seven yards rushing on four attempts.
Carolina, however, uses a standard shotgun formation, a la the spread offense Gene Chizik employed for Newton at Auburn.
At 6’5” and 6’4”—respectively—Newton and Pryor match up pretty well in terms of their size. If Dennis Allen does choose to go to Pryor, his best bet might be to also develop a pistol offense to help Pryor break into the second level of the Bronco defense, where he can move better in space.
A short week for both of these teams makes it hard to work on any sort of trickery, but it does mean that Denver likely focused their attention on Palmer. They will have to respect a healthy Darren McFadden. Pair that with Pryor and Denver could find itself in a trap game Thursday night.