Whether you think it was the best trade in the history of the NFL or you take a more practical approach and recognize it as an abysmal move by a desperate head coach, the trade for Carson Palmer gave the Oakland Raiders a weapon. Palmer has completed over 60% of his passes in every season except 2008 when he only played four games. Palmer has an impressive 173 touchdowns in 112 games (1.5 per game). He has passed for over 4000 yards twice (2006, 2007) and has three 3000 yard seasons.
Yet the man was thrown out of Cincinnati after not getting what he wanted and holding out. If it weren’t for an injury to Jason Campbell in Oakland last year he probably would be out of the NFL. But he does still have that weapon of an arm. Since joining Oakland last season he has 4187 yards in 15 games, is completing 61.4% of his passes and has 19 touchdowns. He also has 19 interceptions. Further, he is being sacked more now (twice per game) than he did his entire career.
While Oakland has a weapon (may as well recognize the talent Palmer still has) they also have a player on the decline. Palmer had his highest interception percentage (4.9%) last season with Oakland. He has the lowest touchdown percentage of his career (discounting his injured 2008 season) with 3.1% of his passes going for touchdowns. The only fortunate thing for Palmer this season is that his interceptions seem to be dropping after last year, he only has three on the season.
This shouldn’t stop him from coughing up the ball against the Jaguars.
This may be the most important game for the Jaguars defense because through offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski they have an insight into Palmer that most teams don’t. Bratkowski was Palmer’s offensive coordinator for his entire career in Cincinnati. If anyone knows how the man plays, what he quirks are, and how to take advantage, it’s Bratkowski. The Jaguars defense needs to take advantage of that.
Bratkowski has seen seasons when Palmer throws 20 interceptions (2007 and 2010) and knows how to cause those. He knows how Palmer is successful (21+ touchdowns in five seasons) and he should be able to communicate this to the team. Some good news for the Jaguars, somehow Palmer’s sack percentage doesn’t correlate to turnovers. Palmer’s season with his least number of interceptions (discounting 2008) came on his highest sack percentage (6.5% in 2006). Conversely, Palmer’s most interceptions came in seasons when he ended up on his butt less than usual. Both in 2007 and 2010 Palmer threw 20 interceptions while only being sacked 2.9% and 5.5% respectively. The 2007 statistic is particularly telling because it shows the continued inconsistency of Palmer despite relatively good protection.
It may not be perfect, but the Jaguars could actually come away with some takeaways in this game. A major difference between this year’s defense and last year’s is the lack of takeaways. Last year the team had a +5 takeaway/giveaway differential. This season they are sitting at -2.
It’ll be tough, but maybe if the team does focus on doing the little things right they could effectively limit Palmer and get some gifts out of the man.
I may be hoping too much based on what we’ve seen thus far on the season. I may also be right. I’m sincerely hoping that Carson Palmer is a gift to the Jaguars this week.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims