The Legacy of Carson Palmer

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.

The Career of Paul Pierce

By: Tyler Heyl

Since being drafted 10th overall in the 1998 draft, Paul Pierce has had a storied career. He scored over 25,000 points, grabbed over 700 rebounds, dished out over 4000 assists, and has over 700 steals. Now as he starts his 17th season in the NBA, many wonder how much he can produce and how big of an impact he can have in a game.

After being drafted right after Dirk Nowitzki, it did not take Pierce long to show he was going to be a star in the league. By the 2000-2001 season, Pierce has started averaging 20+ points per season. In 2002 Pierce led the Celtics to their first playoff appearance in seven season, where the Celtics made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Then in the summer before the 2007 season the Big Three was established in Boston. Already having Paul Pierce, Boston acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to establish a power house in the Eastern Conference. In the following season the Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals to capture the NBA championship and Pierce was the Finals MVP but it was Pierce’s only ring. In the following seasons, the Celtics remained one of the top teams in the NBA, but were never able to return to the Finals.

Then, after the 2012-2013 season, Pierce was traded to the Brooklyn Nets along with Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry. Pierce, leaving the city that drafted him, was now on the hunt for another NBA title. Pierce and Garnett led the Nets to the playoffs losing to the Miami Heat. Pierce averaged only 13.5 points per game that season, down from his 18.6 in his last season with the Celtics.

Pierce again changed teams to begin the 2014-2015 season. He signed with the Washington Wizards in hopes to lead their young talent, headlined by John Wall, to a NBA title. So far, Pierce is averaging 11.9 points per game and the Wizards have a record of 5-2. Pierce may not be the scorer he once was, but he can impact a team in a new way, bringing experience to younger players and getting open to knock down easy shots that Wall will set him up for.

Pierce will definitely end up in the Hall of Fame when his career is over. He is a class act and has always been a great role model. I project that Pierce will play one more season after this one with the Wizards. He will return to finish out his career in Boston, where the fans have embraced him ever since he was drafted. 

CFB Playoff Implications

By: Sam Kluender

It’s week eleven now in the college football season and the pressure is starting to mount for the teams who are hopeful to make the new college football playoffs. Only four teams will make it and there are many more who are close enough they could make a push in these last five weeks of the season. Although at the same time if a team on the outside looking in losses, there may not be enough time to get back into the thick of things.

Right now the playoff committee has put out their top four teams going into this week of games. The committee has voted that if the season ended today, the teams in the playoff would be Mississippi State, Florida State, Auburn, and Oregon. Mississippi State and Florida State are the only two teams left in the nation who are undefeated.

What will make these next few weeks intense is that there are probably about twelve teams who could make a run into the playoffs. Those teams are Alabama, TCU, Kansas State, Arizona State, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Baylor, and Mississippi. Mississippi is the only team with two losses while the rest have one. The only reason they may have the chance is due to being in the SEC. If they can win out, beating Mississippi State and the SEC Championship game opponent should they get there, they could be the 3rd or 4th team. For most of these teams on the outside looking in, a loss from here on out will likely take them out of discussion. Let’s take a look at some of the games on slate for this weekend.

#7 Kansas State vs #6 TCU

This game is the most important in terms of the playoff landscape moving forward. TCU could win out and still would need help along the way. A loss to Kansas State, even though they are ranked #7 would be a fatal blow to their playoff hopes. Kansas States’ fate is a bit more optimistic if they were to lose. While it would be unlikely, KSU could climb their way back thanks to their schedule. They still have games against a very good #23 West Virginia and they finish their season on the road against #12 Baylor. A Big 12 championship would likely involve KSU and Auburn. It’s possible, albeit unlikely. As of Friday night, TCU holds a 5.5 point favorite going into the game. This matchup is one of a highly efficient offense in TCU against a top 15 defense in football in Kansas State. This TCU team is very similar to the one who beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl a couple years ago. Their offense took a step back but has been refueled with young talent. Being able to slow down TCU and dark horse Heisman candidate Trevone Boykin will be key in the game. A win by either team would move them up one or two spots, possibly in the top four.

#10 Notre Dame vs #9 Arizona State

Saturday afternoon’s matchup between these teams are very similar in implications to the Kansas State and TCU game. The difference here, however, is that a loss for either team would kick them out of contention no matter what. Notre Dame and Arizona State cannot afford a loss here. Notre Dame plays no more ranked teams after this game and Arizona State’s only quality opponent is #19 Arizona. Vegas is predicting this game to be pretty close with Arizona State being a 2.5 point favorite. Expect this to be a high scoring game. Neither defenses is all the great and both have been subject to giving up a lot of points to good offenses. Notre Dame allowed 43 points in the game against North Carolina and 39 points against Navy. What has kept them in games is their offense riding on senior QB Everett Golson who has 2311 yards, 22 TD’s, and 7 INT’s with a 149 passer rating. What to look for is how will the Arizona State line be able to protect their QB Taylor Kelly. Notre Dame has the advantage at the line and Arizona State will have to step up even more so as Taylor Kelly is trying to get back into the groove after missing three games due to an injured foot.

#5 Alabama vs #16 LSU

Even though Alabama still has games against the #1 team in the nation next week in Mississippi State and ends the season against #3 Auburn, this is probably their most important game of the year. Like Mississippi, Alabama may be one of the few teams who could make the top 4 while being a two loss team. It’s not out of the realm of possibility, but the loss cannot come against LSU. LSU has the role of spoiler this week. A loss to LSU and Alabama should kiss their hopes goodbye. I listed the teams I thought that had a chance to break the top four and LSU was not on that list. If you have listen to LSU coach Les Miles and comments from some of the players, they definitely still think they have a shot. Tiger Stadium is going to be rocking with Alabama being rivals and all the scenarios that could come out of this. In no surprise, the odds in this game has Alabama a 6.5 point favorite. What has kept LSU down this year and will be what to watch for this game is what QB Anthony Jennings can do. If it weren’t for running back duo of Leonard Fournette and Terrence Magee, the Tigers would probably be a four loss team. The sophomore has not been able to pass the ball all year. Apart from their week one win against Wisconsin, Jennings hasn’t surpassed 200 passing yards in a game and is averaging only about 120 yards. LSU has been able to run the offense through their running backs, but they won’t be able to against the elite run defense of Alabama. Jennings and LSU will have to do what they haven’t been able to all year and establish a passing game or else Alabama will lock down on their running game. 

Five Key MLB Free Agents

By: Tyler Heyl

In Major League Baseball there will always be the teams that will over spend in free agency to acquire the top free agents. These teams always appear to “win” in free agency, but I believe that the teams that spend their money the wisest are the real winners. The front office of these teams do a great job of identifying the best value players out on the market. These teams, in my view, have the best chance of winning a World Series. So, let’s take a look at the top five value free agents on this year’s free agent market.

5. Mike Carp (1B/OF)

Mike Carp first came on to the scene with the Red Sox in the 2013 season. He hit .296, with 9 homeruns, and 43 RBI’s while coming off the bench. Coming into the 2014 season there were high expectations for the left handed batter, but he tapered off and was eventually traded to Texas. Carp is definitely a bounce back candidate for the 2015 season. Carp only had -.8 WAA (wins above average) which can be turned around with a change of scenery and a good hitting coach. Carp could probably be signed with a minor league contract or a salary under $1 million. A power left handed bat for under $1 million is a bargain.

4. Jason Hammel (SP)

The first part of the 2014 season, Hammel posted a sub 3 ERA with the Chicago Cubs. Then he was traded to the Oakland A’s where he had a 4.26 ERA. While Hammel was in Chicago he showed he had the stuff to be a number 2 starter in the league. When he went to Oakland, the change of location did not help and the pressure got to him. Since in past years he had over a 3 ERA he will be able to be gotten relatively cheap. I would project him to get a 2 year $20 million deal. Which would be a huge steal.

3. Russell Martin (C)

Martin is one of the more high profile free agents, but he is well worth the money. Martin hit .290, 11 home runs, and drove in 67 runners in 2014. This past season was one of his best offensively, but that is not where he is worth the investment. Martin showed with the Pirates that he can help young pitchers out and give them a leader. Martin is also one of the best defensive catchers in the league. He saved 12 more runs in the field than the average MLB catcher. I would not be surprised if he ended up winning the gold glove. I project him getting a 4 year $72 million deal.

2. Jed Lowrie (2B,3B,SS)

Lowrie is a very versatile infielder that can be in the lineup every-day. He had over 500 at bats with the A’s in 2014. 2/3rds of the starts he had with the A’s was a short stop. It is hard to find a good hitting short stop in the league now and Lowrie is in the top half of the league in hitting for short stops. His career average is .261 so there is room for improvement from the .249 average. It is always good to have a player on the team that can play multiple infield position, especially one that can have 500 at bats per season. I see him getting a 2 year $19 million deal.

1. Ervin Santana (SP)

Santana is coming off of a 1 year contract with the Braves where he put up average numbers. He had a 3.95 ERA and a 1.306 WHIP. Plus rumors of elbow fatigue towards the end of the season and the braves will extend a qualifying offer to Santana so there are a lot of red flags with Santana. Teams would be crazy not to take a serious look at Santana. He pitched in a very hitter friendly ball park. He has the potential of being a number two starter on a team, and a pitcher that a playoff team can rely on in a big game. A pitcher like this is worth a lot in the majors there days. I project Santana to get a 3 year $40 million deal this offseason.

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