Last week the Cardinals defeated the St. Louis Rams 31-14 thanks to a 21 point fourth quarter. That win brought the Cardinals to 8-1 on the season and helped them stay afloat as the NFL’s best team and put them two games up on the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West. Normally a fan base would be rejoicing at this point, especially one like the Cardinals who finished last season with a 5-11 record. The problem was, that 21 point fourth quarter was with Drew Stanton under center and not Carson Palmer.
Palmer had torn his ACL earlier in the game. While trying to avoid a sack from behind, Palmer took a couple quick steps forward and trying to plant his foot he fell to the ground in pain. It wouldn’t be until a couple days later when it was officially announced that Palmer had torn his ACL which would end his season. The Cardinals placed Palmer on the IR and Drew Stanton will now take over as QB for the rest of the season.
Carson Palmer is no stranger to injury. In January of 2006, Palmer tore his ACL in the same knee. It was one of the knee injuries his surgeon had performed on and there was talk about it being a career ending injury. His injury was during his 2nd season in the NFL where he was one of the best QB’s in the NFL. He accumulated over 3,800 passing yards and 32 TD’s to help build a 101.1 passer rating. He went through intense rehab and was able to return week 1 of the 2006 season. While his 2006 campaign was very successful throwing for over 4,000 yards for the first time and throwing 28 TD’s for a 93.9 passer rating, his career was never the same again. Then again in 2008 he missed the final 12 games of the season with a torn ligament in his throwing arm. It wasn’t until later in the 2009 season where Palmer was fully healthy once again.
Palmer entered the NFL with a lot of hype. The former 2002 Heisman winner dominated opposing defenses for USC in college. He started his college career as being only one of two true freshman to ever start at USC. He a very quality QB at USC, but didn’t break out until 2002 where he threw for 3,942 yards and 33 TD’s. His 2002 season helped solidify himself as one of college’s best quarterbacks. This ultimately led him to being chosen #1 overall in the 2003 draft by the Cincinnati Bengals where he would become the starter in his rookie season.
Palmer had all the talent and opportunity he needed to become a great NFL QB, but never lived up to expectations. More than likely it was due to an injury plagued career. Palmer was never a bad quarterback, but he never hit that elite status that many people thought he would get to. There are still many medical tests Palmer will need to go through so it’s too early to determine whether or not he will play another snap in the NFL, but the book about his legacy is almost finished.
What people say about his legacy may vary depending on who you ask. Ask a Bengals fan and they would probably be more positive than others. While he never brought the Bengals to the promise land, he helped turn around a franchise that was in shambles which has ultimately led them to the success they are having today. Ask someone else and their response may be less favorable. From 2007 until before this season, Palmer seemingly was a forgotten quarterback. Mainly due to being as average as you could be during that time. He was never talked about as one of the top QB’s, but he had pretty good job security. Despite never breaking out, Palmer has always been a starting quarterback. His teams were never that good, however. His teams are 0-2 in the playoffs with him as QB and he is 59-71 as a starter. That record is what will probably stand out the most in the end. While it’s unfair to blame Palmer for all 71 loses, many people will remember him as a QB who couldn’t win games. It wasn’t really all his fault either. Until this year he never really played on any great teams, but as the quarterback the blame will be put on him.
At almost age 35, Palmer finally may have been on track to be able to change his legacy. Even though he is not being named with the Manning’s, Brady’s, and Rodgers’, the surprise success of the Cardinals helped him be looked at as an above average quarterback. Too bad that just like the rest of his career, injuries have prevented him from continuing on that track. The way he played this season compounded with the 3 year deal he signed will give him another opportunity to change his legacy if he can come back healthy again. But being 35 years old and coming off another knee injury, his time is running out.