To no surprise, the media is still negative when it comes to the Oakland Raiders when mentioning the team. They have had a decade-long drought, but the media blasts them as if they were an annual playoff team the last couple of years and have just fallen off. As if they have nothing else to discuss, the Carson Palmer trade, which was made out of whack, is the centerpiece to all discussions leading up to the Oakland Raiders.
Your team is 4-2 in one of the worst, but competitive divisions in the NFL. Suddenly, your starting quarterback breaks his collarbone on his throwing arm and is out for the season. Would you ride the season out with Kyle Boller starting the next 10 games or propose a trade for a worthy quarterback around the league?
Oakland was desperate for a quarterback and their only other option was third string QB Terrelle Pryor, who was suspended the first six games of the season and not even able to learn the playbook nor practice with the team during his suspension.
Prior to the trade deadline and starting QB Jason Campbell getting injured, the Raiders lost their long time owner Al Davis to a sudden death. No one called shots in Oakland since the 60's other than Davis. The only other people in position to run the franchise were CEO Amy Trask, Al’s son Mark (who is learning football on the fly) and then-head coach Hue Jackson. Jackson was left with sole responsibility of the franchise and thought he had to do whatever was necessary to keep the franchise and their playoff aspirations alive, so he proposed a trade to the Cincinnati Bengals; a 2012 1st-round pick and a conditional 2013 pick in exchange for retired QB Palmer.
Palmer was fed up with the Bengals organization and vowed to retire if not traded or released. He stuck to his word and retired. Come mid-season, Palmer receives a phone call and comes off his couch and into a game for the Raiders after less than a full week of practicing with the team.
Palmer was thrown in the fire of a 21-0 halftime deficit the Raiders were facing at home to divisional foe the Kansas City Chiefs. Palmer went only 8 for 21 with 116 yards and three interceptions. This without practicing with the team, getting timing down with the wide receivers or getting in shape. He went on to finish the season with 13 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and over 2,700 passing yards to go with an 80.5 QB rating in 10 games. He also had a career high 8.4 ypa. Those are not good numbers, but it is somewhat acceptable for a QB who just came out of retirement after having surgery on his throwing shoulder.
So after a long offseason, which featured the firing of a head coach and the hiring of a new general manager who released more than five starters, Palmer got an offseason under his belt with the organization in a completely new offense. Oakland now runs the zone offense with coordinator Greg Knapp, which Palmer has never practiced. So far in nine games this season, Palmer has thrown 15 TDs to 9 INTs with over 2,700 yards and an 86.8 QB rating. On top of that, the Raiders offensive line is one of the worst in the league, and McFadden has yet to get it going in the run game. That being said, the zone offense will not work with Knapp calling play action bootlegs. No one is gonna fall for the play action because the Raiders run game has been nonexistent, so backside DL and LBs are just licking their chops, waiting on Palmer to roll to their side.
Despite taking a beating all year, especially against Denver, Atlanta and Jacksonville, Palmer has done his share and stood strong in the pocket, delivering accurate balls while getting hit in the mouth by a defender that the Raiders OL forgot to account for. He delivered a 49-yard strike to Denarius Moore from his own end zone, and a 17-yard strike to Brandon Myers, while getting knocked out by defenders who had a clean shot on him.
When people analyze the Palmer trade, one might call it a complete failure because we all know he wasn’t worth both a first and second round pick. We all know that he isn’t the Carson Palmer from 2005 and 2006 who was in the same breath as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, throwing more than 3,800 yards and a 101 QB rating throughout the season. He had one of the most accurate deep balls in all of football prior to having surgery on his throwing shoulder. That is very detrimental to a quarterback, but yet the media doesn’t bring that up when discussing the trade that sent Palmer to Oakland. He also is nowhere near worth $13 million, which is his due salary next year. The Bengals gave Palmer a contract that was acceptable prior to his retirement and surgery, but now it is nowhere near adequate.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Palmer took a pay cut to remain in Oakland for at least another year. There are several holes Oakland needs to address via next years’ draft and free agency. They’ll be smart not to draft a rookie and throw him in the fire immediately, as they can keep Palmer for at least another year and they have yet to find out what they have in Pryor.
I am a firm believer that since the quarterback gets all the shine, they should get an equal amount of scrutiny for the play of their team. But when only the latter is being mentioned, it becomes a conflict of unfair analyzing of a person’s play.
The running game got going with Michael Bush last season as Palmer found a rhythm in the offense. If they can get it going this year, we can expect to see Palmer back in the same breath with a few elites, but his glory days are behind him. If the running game gets going, that means the play of the OL will improve, which will buy Palmer more time in the pocket.
So with the lack of productivity from McFadden, the injury to Jacoby Ford and poor play of the offensive line, is it safe to say that the Palmer trade was a failure? I think not. There is still plenty of football to play.