QB Watch: Cardinals' Carson Palmer

A weekly analysis of the Arizona Cardinals' quarterback play:

Rewind: This wasn’t the type of game the Cardinals had in mind when they traded for Carson Palmer. He started 4-for-5 on the opening drive, leading Arizona to a touchdown that quieted the Superdome. Then he went 10-for-23 on the next eight drives, all of which resulted in punts as the Saints outscored the Cardinals 31-0. But it was a slow decline. Palmer began that stretch 5-for-6 and then tailed off.

So I was wrong. Brutally wrong. I predicted Palmer would throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns. He finished with 187 yards, and the Cardinals’ 247 total yards were less than Palmer’s individual marks the first two games.

Fast-forward: Palmer will have to decide whether it’s worth throwing to Larry Fitzgerald with Bucs CB Darrelle Revis on him all game. Chances are Revis will be in single coverage, which Fitz enjoys because of his fundamental route running. That also allows the Bucs to double-cover Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts. Look for TE Rob Housler to break out.

Shake, rattle and roll: Palmer looked rattled after getting hit a few times against the Saints. His demeanor changed, and he appeared to rush his passes and decisions a little. But when he’s given time, Palmer is very accurate and can pinpoint his throws. The key, however, is him staying off the ground, which isn’t in his control every play. But when he’s hit a few times, Palmer turns into a different quarterback.

Prediction: These are getting harder because of the play of the offensive line. If Palmer stays upright, he can get back on track with 200 yards or more and two touchdowns. If he’s hit, we might see another performance like the one against New Orleans.