So much has been said and written about Carson Palmer in the last 8 months that it almost feels like he’s been a Raider for 8 years. But that’s the nature of the position he plays and it comes with the territory when you play the “trade me or retirement” card. Palmer’s path to Oakland is already forever locked in Raider lore. How he’ll be remembered is what remains.
No matter what you thought of Palmer’s play in 2011 you’ve got to give him the benefit of the doubt. Anybody that goes from sitting on their couch to learning a new offense and being thrown into the middle of a playoff push has got to be given some leeway.
Then again, Palmer made enough big plays that made most of that leeway unnecessary.
We know this much – Carson still has the goods. He made his share of mistakes but he also proved there is enough left in the tank to keep this burgeoning Oakland offense among the league’s elite. Never forget Palmer didn’t get to play with his full compliment of weapons. Until the recent OTAs Palmer and Darren McFadden hadn’t played a single down together.
So I’m more than willing to let 2012 play out before passing any serious judgment on Palmer. But make no mistake, this is a make or break year for Palmer under the watchful eye of Reggie McKenzie.
What can’t be overlooked are Palmer’s 16 picks in only 10 games last season. Rust be damned. A quarterback has got to take better care of the ball. Unlike Jason Campbell, Palmer is more than willing to take risks downfield. In this game you’ve got to take risks but Palmer needs to make sure his are more calculated. I’m not big on stats but Palmer is trending downward as his QB rating has dipped in each of the last three years. Some of that is health related but you can’t ignore that kind of warning.
Now Palmer is again learning a new offense and again has to try and prove he was worth the price Hue Jackson paid for his services. It’s not Palmer’s fault Jackson gave up the future to try and win now. But as a QB it will always be his burden to carry the franchise on his back. Palmer got a pass last season but this year he won’t have any built in excuses. It’s a show-me season and so far Palmer has shown he’s up for the task. Now it’s just a matter of executing it.