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The Playbook

Hawaii-based Sports Journalism

Stat Breakdown: Carson Palmer

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
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At the end of 2012, the Cardinals were looking for anyone to play quarterback. After making a move and signing Oakland Raider quarterback Carson Palmer, many were confused as to why an injury prone veteran was brought in. I recall the coverage of Kurt Warner's potential return on ESPN for a good week. Fortunately for the Cards, Carson has been the answer. In 2015, no quarterback played a more consistent season than Carson Palmer. He led the 2015 Cardinals to a 13-3 record (19-3 in his last 22 regular season starts, NFC West Championship, and NFC Championship game. Arizona led the NFL in Overall Offense, and finished top five in both scoring offense (2nd) and passing offense (5th). 

The key to the success of the Cardinals offense starts at head coach and play caller, Bruce Arians. This offense was very disciplined with the third least offensive penalties in the league. Winning games is a direct result of having disciplined veterans who understand the importance of field position. Another key adjustment was moving Larry Fitzgerald inside to the slot. This rejuvenated Larry's career as he had his best season since 2011, and a career high of 109 receptions. It was a small move, but it helped utilize Fitz's route running and catch in traffic ability, as well as his above average run blocking. To line up in a 3WR set but still have a tight end level run blocker is so valuable in terms of keeping the defense honest to both the pass and run. Look no further than the game winning to play of the NFC Wild Card to see how Larry can be used in these packages.

Back to Palmer, a peak at the chart above reveals some interesting things about Palmer and his ability as a quarterback and experience as a vet. What jumps off the page is that of his 11 Interceptions, only 2 occurred in the second half of a game, this matches up well with the fact that Carson's completion percentage stayed consistent regardless of the score margin. Whether it was close or a blowout, Carson stayed consistent in terms of his completion percentage and production. He wasn't forcing throws and making bad reads, and by limiting turnovers in the second half, was able to secure more wins.

Make no mistake, Carson is far from a "game manager" at the quarterback position. Carson did a lot with his arm talent, as the Cardinals were 22nd in YAC, with only 1,807 yards of the 4,671 yards came after the catch. Carson was confident and routine in his game with a third down efficiency of 47% (putting them 3rd in the league), as well throwing for 25 TDs to just 1 INT in the Red Zone. Palmer was also quite efficient especially when throwing away from the middle. When throwing to the right side of the field, Carson had 18 TDs to just 1 INT as well as a 68% completion percentage. The only place he struggled was throwing to the middle, where that percentage drops to 53.8% and 5:5 TD to INT Ratio. A cause of that may be due to the receiving corps just being superior to the tight end, and Bruce Arians stretching the field with 5 wide sets. Only 65 of the 537 attempts were to targets in the middle of the field. Palmer also struggled with the deep ball, throwing well below league average at 37%, but with age loses strength, and Palmer was never a superb deep ball thrower.

So, what can we expect from a 36 year old in 2016?  Expect them to win games. Palmer's experience and Arian's offensive prowess should really shine in 2016. With the emergence of a young star running back in David Johnson, as well as signing guard Evan Mathis, this is a veteran offense, with enough young talent that should be able to repeat as NFC West Champions. Areas of improvement need to be accuracy over the middle, opportunities after the catch, and allowed sacks on 3rd down (14 of the Cardinals 25 sacks allowed came on 3rd down), but there is little to argue that Carson is still a super star quarterback who can get the job done.

Did anything surprise you about Palmer's 2015? How will 2016 fare for the Cardinals? Let us know on twitter @Playbook_Blog !!!

*(All rights go to the NFL & its broadcasters, ESPN, and FOX Sports and CBS Sports. I do not own the footage used in this video. No copyright infringement intended. I do not gain any profit from my videos. For entertainment purposes only)


Stat Breakdown: Carson Palmer and the Arizona Pass Offense

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

At the end of 2012, the Cardinals were looking for anyone to play quarterback. After making a move and signing Oakland Raider quarterback Carson Palmer, many were confused as to why an injury prone veteran was brought in. I recall the coverage of Kurt Warner's potential return on ESPN for a good week. Fortunately for the Cards, Carson has been the answer. In 2015, no quarterback played a more consistent season than Carson Palmer. He led the 2015 Cardinals to a 13-3 record (19-3 in his last 22 regular season starts, NFC West Championship, and NFC Championship game. Arizona led the NFL in Overall Offense, and finished top five in both scoring offense (2nd) and passing offense (5th).

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The key to the success of the Cardinals offense starts at head coach and play caller, Bruce Arians. This offense was very disciplined with the third least offensive penalties in the league. Winning games is a direct result of having disciplined veterans who understand the importance of field position. Another key adjustment was moving Larry Fitzgerald inside to the slot. This rejuvenated Larry's career as he had his best season since 2011, and a career high of 109 receptions. It was a small move, but it helped utilize Fitz's route running and catch in traffic ability, as well as his above average run blocking. To line up in a 3WR set but still have a tight end level run blocker is so valuable in terms of keeping the defense honest to both the pass and run. Look no further than the game winning to play of the NFC Wild Card to see how Larry can be used in these packages.

Back to Palmer, a peak at the chart above reveals some interesting things about Palmer and his ability as a quarterback and experience as a vet. What jumps off the page is that of his 11 Interceptions, only 2 occurred in the second half of a game, this matches up well with the fact that Carson's completion percentage stayed consistent regardless of the score margin. Whether it was close or a blowout, Carson stayed consistent in terms of his completion percentage and production. He was forcing throws and making bad reads, which is important in closing games out when momentum swings.

Make no mistake, Carson is far from a "game manager" at the quarterback position. Carson did a lot with his arm talent, as the Cardinals were 22nd in YAC, with only 1,807 yards of the 4,671 yards came after the catch. Carson was confident and routine in his game with a third down efficiency of 47% (putting them 3rd in the league), as well throwing for 25 TDs to just 1 INT in the Red Zone. Palmer was also quite efficient especially when throwing away from the middle. When throwing to the right side of the field, Carson had 18 TDs to just 1 INT as well as a 68% completion percentage. The only place he struggled was throwing to the middle, where that percentage drops to 53.8% and 5:5 TD to INT Ratio. A cause of that may be due to the receiving corps just being superior to the tight end, and Bruce Arians stretching the field with 5 wide sets. Only 65 of the 537 attempts were to targets in the middle of the field. Palmer also struggled with the deep ball, throwing well below league average at 37%, but with age loses strength, and Palmer was never a superb deep ball thrower.

So, what can we expect from a 36 year old in 2016?  Expect them to win games. Palmer's experience and Arian's offensive prowess should really shine in 2016. With the emergence of a young star running back in David Johnson, as well as signing guard Evan Mathis, this is a veteran offense, with enough young talent that should be able to repeat as NFC West Champions. Areas of improvement need to be accuracy over the middle, opportunities after the catch, and allowed sacks on 3rd down (14 of the Cardinals 25 sacks allowed came on 3rd down), but there is little to argue that Carson is still a super star quarterback who can get the job done.

Did anything surprise you about Palmer's 2015? How will 2016 fare for the Cardinals? Let us know on twitter @Playbook_Blog !!!

*(All rights go to the NFL & its broadcasters, ESPN, and FOX Sports and CBS Sports. I do not own the footage used in this video. No copyright infringement intended. I do not gain any profit from my videos. For entertainment purposes only)

 


NBA Draft Recap, Part 1

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

1- Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons, PF LSU: After enduring years of lackluster basketball, it would make sense that the Sixers are ready to start acquiring NBA level talent. Here, there wasn't much suspense. Standing 6'10", Ben Simmons has an incredibly unique skill set for his size. With court vision and passing instincts of a point guard, coupled with above average athleticism, Simmons' floor is relatively high, with, likely, the highest ceiling in this draft. Think Lamar Odom in his heyday. The Sixers make this pick, then decide what to do with their surplus of bigs later.

2- Los Angeles Lakers: Brandon Ingram, SF Duke: The Kevin Durant  comparisons may be overly optimistic, but what Ingram brings to the table as an NBA wing is nothing to scoff at. At 6'9" with a 7'3" wingspan, Ingram certainly has the makeup of an NBA wing. There are concerns about his lack of strength, hindering his ability to defend bigger wings and create his own shot (listed at 195 lbs) but Ingram more than held his own at the college level, shooting at a 41% clip from deep, and compensating with his length, at times, on the defensive end. The Lakers only 3 under contract next season is Anthony Brown. His infusion of scoring from the perimeter could do wonders for the Lakers, and considering their lack of talent at the position, this pick is almost a no brainer.

3- Boston Celtics: Jaylen Brown, SF Cal: Although this pick came as a surprise to many (myself included), this pick has a chance to turn out very well for Boston. Brown has the makeup of a star NBA wing, but will need a couple of years to refine his game and develop. Thanks to Brooklyn, the Celtics have the luxury of being able to make this pick and possibly live with Brown not contributing much right away while he hones his craft.

4- Phoenix Suns: Dragan Bender, PF/C, Croatia: This Croatian big man runs the floor as fluid as a guard, is a good distributor and knocked down the 3 at a 40% clip last season with Maccabi Tel Aviv all at a modest 7'1". It may take him some time to adapt to the NBA game. but Phoenix takes him at 4, banking on the chance that he takes the league by storm, similar to Kristaps Porzingis' rise last season. 

5- Minnesota Timberwolves: Kris Dunn, PG, Providence: Out of all of the players in this year's draft, Dunn projects as one of the more NBA ready guys. The T-Wolves brought in coach Tom Thibodeau this offseason, and Dunn's skill set fits in well with Coach Thibs' defense-first philosophy. Minnesota makes this pick based on fit within their new scheme, and decide what to do with Ricky Rubio later.

6-New Orleans Pelicans: Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma: With Eric Gordon hitting free agency this summer, the Pelicans have a big need at SG. Hield is an incredibly gifted scorer. Able to finish with either hand, create off of the dribble or spotting up, Buddy is the complete package offensively. His presence may give New Orleans the true secondary scoring threat they have searched for since drafting Anthony Davis, and the pick and roll game between the two of them should be fun to watch in the coming seasons. 

7- Denver Nuggets: Jamal Murray, SG  Kentucky: There has been plenty made of Murray's potentially tough transition to the NBA on the defensive side of the ball. If Denver can effectively hide him on that end, Murray will be able to shine on offense. He has a remarkable ability to score, and will give Denver a much needed reliable three point shooter. Look for him to also take some of the pressure off of Mudiay's shoulders as the primary ball handler for these Nuggets, something that Mudiay struggled with at times this past season.

8- Phoenix Suns: Marquese Chriss, PF Washington: This is where the fun begins. Phoenix has a couple of holes on their roster, but none as glaring as their need at the 4. Chriss is an absolute freak of an athlete, and can has the ability to step back and knock down a jumper as well. Standing 6'10", he is a little light at 225 pounds. If he can get a couple of pounds on his frame, Chriss will be a nightmare in the pick and roll game. On defense, Chriss makes up for his (sometimes) lacking instincts with his incredible length and aforementioned athleticism. While there's a real chance he ends up as Tyrus Thomas, his skill set screams superstar potential.

9- Toronto Raptors: Jakob Poeltl, C Utah: With Bismack Biyombo likely departing this offseason, Toronto can soften the blow with this pick right here. Poeltl has good passing vision for a big, coupled with very good footwork on the low block. The general consensus is that he is one of the most NBA ready players of this draft, and Jakob will be counted on to contribute in Toronto immediately. 

10- Milwaukee Bucks: Thon Maker, PF Australia: Truly the surprise of the draft. As is now, Maker projects as a 4 in an NBA lineup. This would allow Milwaukee to slide Jabari Parker back up to his natural position of small forward. While this makes sense in theory, Parker was reluctant to shoot the ball from distance this past season. making most of his noise from within 15 feet of the basket. As of right now, I question the fit here, but the Bucks have had success in these sort of picks recently. (see, Greek Freak)

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