Carson Palmer’s arrival in Oakland was met with mixed reactions. On the one hand, Hue Jackson paid a Robert Griffin III’s ransom for the services of Palmer. The two high draft picks the Raiders gave up might not amount to anything for Cincinnati but at this point in time those are two picks that the silver and black traded are badly need.
On the other hand had Jackson stayed the course and Palmer stayed on his couch then the 2011 season would have been over the instant Jason Campbell’s collar bone broke and Kyle Boller broke the single-game interception record.
As we all know things ended pretty badly for the Raiders. Sitting in the driver’s seat to win the AFC West, the wheels came off as Oakland won just one of the last five games. Jackson was one and done as the head coach and Palmer was plagued by costly turnovers in his self-imposed shortened season.
But that was then. Here and now the tide is changing around Raider country.
Speaking for the first time since the season ended, Palmer chatted with former Raider QB Rich Gannon on Sirius XM. A full transcript of the interview can be found here.
There is no doubt that Palmer is excited about the prospects of the Raiders contending next season. When asked if he thought his team had a chance at making the playoffs in 2012 Palmer went one step further.
But as far as being close to a playoff team, I think it’s more than that. I think we’re close to a championship team. There’s a lot of work that needs to be put in and a lot of hurdles that we need to get over, but I think we need to be heading into this season thinking more than just playoffs and trying to get to the playoffs and trying to win the AFC West. I think it’s bigger than that, and we definitely have a lot of pieces to the puzzle than being more than just a playoff team.
There is no doubt Palmer likes the weapons he’s got around him. In the short allotment of time he had to learn the playbook, Palmer helped make Oakland’s already explosive offense even more deadly. What was truly amazing about that is the fact that Carson never got a chance to play with the full compliment of weapons. He was quick to remind the Sirius listeners of that too. Keep in mind Palmer and Darren McFadden never once took a snap together last season.
With regards to those weapons, Palmer said he sees the Raiders as having more than enough talent at wide receiver. He spoke glowingly of Denarius Moore and his big play ability not forgetting to mention Darrius Heyward-Bey’s breakout year, Jacoby Ford’s injury issues and how hungry Louis Murphy is to get back into the mix.
What is even better than Palmer’s praise is that he’s been talking to all those weapons during the offseason including fellow USC Trojan David Ausberry who Palmer thinks has a bright future.
While all that was nice the real question is just how Palmer viewed all the changes that have occurred since Oakland’s season ended. He, like many players, was close to Jackson. However Palmer seems very excited about learning Greg Knapp’s offense and the direction Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen are taking the franchise. Palmer said as much when asked about the firing of Coach Jackson.
It was tough. Myself and a lot of guys on the team were close with Hue, and good friends, and looked up to Hue in a lot of different ways. It’s going to be different. It sounds like things are really changing in a lot of different areas and going in a number of different directions, so it will be exciting and this team will be ready to roll once the offseason kicks off in April.
As great as it is to hear how excited Palmer is about his offense, very little was said of the defense during the interview. We all know that is the real elephant in the room. Even with all those injuries Oakland’s offense was good enough to contend for the AFC West crown and the automatic playoff berth and home date that comes with it. The only defender Palmer even mentioned was Tyvon Branch as he made a point to state how important the soon-to-be free agent is to Oakland’s title hopes.
That said a lot without saying much. It also says that Palmer’s Lombardi dreams are still a fantasy until the Raiders revamp their underachieving defense. At least that’s going to be the argument unless the defense does improve and Palmer’s turnovers persist. But like the man said, it’s going to take plenty of work by every person in the organization in order to fully restore the Raider Way.
Topics: Carson Palmer, Darren McFadden, Darrius Heyward-Bey, David Ausberry, Denarius Moore, Dennis Allen, Greg Knapp, Hue Jackson, Jason Campbell, Kyle Boller, Louis Murphy, Reggie McKenzie, Rich Gannon, Robert Griffin III, Tyvon Branch