The 1-2 Arizona Cardinals are still unrecognizable to their counterparts from 2015, but head coach Bruce Arians thinks quarterback Carson Palmer is giving the team a chance to revisit their recently dominant past.
“I don’t think our quarterback could have played any better,” Arians said of Palmer’s Monday Night Football performance against the Cowboys (29 of 48 for 325 yards and two touchdowns), via ESPN.com. “He was lights-out from the start to finish. Even getting hit that many times, he moved his feet great. He was sound around the pocket.”
He added: “This is the best I’ve seen him in about two or three years.”
The Cardinals, like the New York Giants, have been wobbling through their first three games trying desperately to keep their aging star quarterbacks upright. Palmer was hit 11 times by Dallas on Monday and sacked six times, including three from Demarcus Lawrence alone.
For both Eli Manning and Palmer, the murky pockets have obscured what they truly have left in the tank and complicated some questions about their effectiveness. Pro Football Focus so far has graded the Giants with one “above average” offensive lineman, one “below average” offensive lineman and three “poor” offensive linemen. The Cardinals, by comparison, have just two “below average” performances and three “poor” performances.
Arians is as cut-and-dry a coach we’ve seen in recent NFL history. He pulls few punches during press conferences. If he thought Palmer was washed up, wouldn’t he say so? Wouldn’t he have pushed much harder for a rookie in last year’s class?
With a relatively friendly slate of games coming up against the 49ers, Eagles, Buccaneers, Rams and 49ers again, the Cardinals could easily slip back into contention and make us forget about their disappointing 2016 season. Arians thinks Palmer is already well on his way to doing so.