Carson Palmer Will Re-Establish His Reputation with a Playoff Run in Oakland
The Oakland Raiders followed the loss of a monumental piece of their franchise by attempting to bring in a big cog in the form of a starting quarterback.
However, that does not mean that Palmer will not have a lot of success with Davis' franchise. The trade to acquire Palmer was a very Al Davis-esque move in that it was widely criticized and, in places, laughed at. It was an aggressive move, and while they did pay more than the market value for Palmer, it is a move that should prove a good one in the long-term. Much like Davis' decisions in the draft to build a team based on speed, this move should surprise quite a lot of people.
The first thing you must consider of course is the price that the team paid. Palmer is not a franchise quarterback because of his age and injury history. That said, the Raiders did the right thing in bringing him in. Waiting for Jason Campbell was not an option, regardless of how fast he believed he could heal.
The Raiders team is maturing behind the leadership of Darren McFadden on offense and Richard Seymour on defense. With Jason Campbell at quarterback, the Raiders offense had shown a lot of promise early in the season without becoming a juggernaut. The youthful receiving corp appears to finally be full of playmakers, as Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford and even Darrius Heyward-Bey are all contributing in the absence of Louis Murphy.
Kevin Boss should be a reliable target for Palmer, while Darren McFadden is arguably playing the best football from his position in the league, outside of Adrian Peterson.
Defensively, the Raiders may be 25th in the league, but the division rival Kansas City Chiefs are 32nd and the Denver Broncos are 31st with Tim Tebow taking over on offense. This leaves the AFC West to be fought out between the Raiders and San Diego Chargers.
The Chargers are playing solid football, but Philip Rivers is not at his elite level yet, while Anotonio Gates has big health concerns. Defensively, Bob Sanders is already gone, while Luis Castillo and Larry English have been out also.
This year is the Raiders' best chance to make the playoffs in a long time. With Campbell at quarterback, they were on course; with Kyle Boller that course would have been diverted. Campbell is a solid quarterback, but he does not have the same arm as Palmer.
Giving up two first-round picks, which is essentially one and a second-rounder, isn't a bad move. It is an aggressive move hoping to take advantage of a window of opportunity.
The difference between Kyle Boller at quarterback and Carson Palmer at quarterback is vast, despite how his reputation has been tarnished in recent years.
Many people will point to what Andy Dalton is doing with the Bengals offense and say that it proves that Palmer is done. For glaringly obvious reasons, it does not. When Palmer last played a snap for the Bengals, he was playing in a dysfunctional offense. Much like in this situation, the perception of Palmer was not the reality. During his last season in Cincinnati, Palmer had more combined fumbles and interceptions, 27, than touchdowns, 26.
However, Andy Dalton is throwing the ball to AJ Green, Jerome Simpson and an experienced Jermaine Gresham, behind one of the better lines in football; Carson Palmer was throwing to two aging, diminishing receivers who didn't complement each other, with a rookie tight end and a problematic line.
Many of Palmer's interceptions were as a result of pressure to Andre Smith's side, which is not there in Cincinnati today, or the tight windows he was forced to throw into because defenses did not have to respect the overall speed of the offense.
Palmer is going from having zero deep threats to multiple ones with the Raiders. His pass protection should be solid, even if Jared Veldheer cannot meet the high standards of Andrew Whitworth as a blindside protector. He will also have a stronger running game with McFadden to alleviate the pressure to carry the offense.
He may have suffered from injuries, but Palmer still throws an accurate football with good velocity. He has completed over 60 percent of his passes during every full season that he has played in the NFL, including his most recent one.
Palmer's mechanics have never been an issue. His ability to handle the football and use play action will be important for the Raiders also. Palmer has no issues there as he proved previously when he effectively handed the ball off one handed in Cincinnati.
With better threats on the outside and less offensive responsibility, Palmer will be a much better quarterback than he has been in recent years. He may never return to his form of 2005—67% 32 TDs 12 INTs—but he has the potential to put this offense over the top in the AFC West.
The Raiders have the type of team that will be just looking to get into the playoffs. Once they do get in, they have enough talent to make a run at the Super Bowl in a similar fashion to the Arizona Cardinals of 2008.
Winning in the NFL isn't always about being the best or being the healthiest. It's often about being hot at the right time. However, you still have to be involved to make that happen. With the acquisition of Carson Palmer, the Oakland Raiders made their chances of playing in Indianapolis next February much more realistic.
Many of us laughed or cried when Al Davis built this speed-biased team. You can bet that Al did neither. You can bet, too, that Davis is delighted with the direction his organization has gone in order to prove all of us who doubted him wrong.
*Being that this is the first Raiders article I have written since Davis' passing, I would like to end it with RIP Al from a non-Raider but respectful outsider.
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