Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer was selected as the NFL's FedEx Air Player of the Year for the 2015 season by a fan vote. According to Darren Urban of the Cardinals' official website on Saturday, Palmer beat out New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and New Orleans Saints gunslinger Drew Brees for the award.
|FedEx Air Player Finalists (2015 season)|
|Player||Comp. %||Pass Yds||Pass TD||INT||Y/A|
En route to helping the Cardinals clinch a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs, Palmer completed 63.7 percent of his passes and posted career highs in passing yards (4,671), passing touchdowns (35) and quarterback rating (104.6).
Although Palmer's season ended in less than spectacular fashion with four interceptions in a 49-15 loss to the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship Game, the Arizona signal-caller was the most dynamic pocket passer in the NFL throughout the 2015 season.
Playing in head coach Bruce Arians' wide-open offense that encouraged downfield shots, Palmer led all quarterbacks in yards per pass attempt (8.7) and yards gained per completion (13.7), according to Pro-Football-Reference.com.
The signature moment of Palmer's season came in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs. After Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers extended the game with a successful Hail Mary attempt as time expired in the fourth quarter, Palmer took the first snap of overtime, scrambled around, fired across his body and found wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald for a 75-yard gain, per the NFL on Twitter:
This is the play before The Play after The Other Play: Larry Fitzgerald starts OT with a 75-yard catch #BeRedSeeRed https://t.co/PQIxOy1FMX1/17/2016, 4:53:54 AM
Brady and Brees both posted monster numbers playing in pass-happy offenses, but Palmer was also fighting adversity the other two veteran quarterbacks weren't. The 36-year-old tore his ACL in November of the 2014 season, and he battled back to post outrageous numbers while lifting the Cardinals to a franchise-record 13 wins.
The NFC Championship Game slip-up put a damper on Palmer's spectacular season without question, but Arians knows his quarterback is capable of responding.
"There’s no doubt in my mind," Arians said, per AZCentral Sports' Dan Bickley. "He’ll come back with more vengeance than before the injury."
Surrounded by weapons like Fitzgerald, John Brown, Michael Floyd and up-and-coming running back David Johnson, Palmer has the supporting cast necessary to keep producing at a high rate even as he approaches 40 years old.
Asking for another 35-touchdown season may be a lofty request, but Arians' offense is conducive to masking some of Palmer's flaws while letting him sling away from a comfortable pocket.