BY: ED COLE
TEMPE, Ariz. – One great quarterback can appreciate another great one; just ask Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers what he thinks about the year Carson Palmer’s having for the Cardinals.
“He’s playing great. It’s fun to watch,” Rodgers said of Palmer, who he’ll oppose on Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium. “Some of the throws he’s hit, especially the deep down the sidelines throws. He had a 3rd-and-15 shot that was really impressive. He looks like he’s enjoying it. Guys are making plays for him and they’ve got a lot of talent on the offense. So, it’s fun to watch on TV and hopefully our defense can try and slow them down a little bit this week.”
Rodgers and Palmer have developed a pretty good relationship over the years. They met up at several events around the country and something just sparked between the two.
Them both being from California helped speed things along most likely too.
Palmer’s been healthy all season long, and as a result, he’s exploded along with Arizona’s offense – the No. 1 ranked offense in the league by the way.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady are the two players most talked about in the race for NFL MVP. Palmer’s name has been brought up in the conversation as well, as it should be. In all statistical categories for quarterbacks, Palmer ranks either first, second or third in them all, so why shouldn’t his name be on the tips of people’s tongues?
“I think he’s (Palmer) got to be leading, or right in the MVP debate,” Rodgers said. “He’s had a great season. I’m really happy for him. I got to know him a little bit over the years, and I have a ton of respect for him as a player, and he’s just a great guy to be around. I’ve spent a little time with him. I’m really happy for his success, and I think he deserves to be in the conversation for sure.”
Bruce Arians’ offensive system isn’t an easy one to learn, just ask Palmer. Three years in and Palmer’s still learning new things and new wrinkles are being revealed, which has to make it fun and challenging for the 35-year-old.
“I’m still learning and getting better and figuring things out and making mistakes and improving on them,” Palmer said. “It’s a work in progress. It’s not an overnight thing. It wasn’t an overnight thing. It was a gradual progress and I think we’re still heading in that direction.”
The fact that Arians isn’t afraid to sling the football downfield at any time not only keeps defensive coordinators awake at night with their preparation for that, it had Palmer on his heels initially when he got here in 2013, because it’s something he wasn’t used to seeing.
“No doubt. In the risk-taking and the play calling, and in so many different ways, yes,” Palmer said. “It took a good year, and I think any new offense that gets installed, especially at the quarterback position, because everybody needs to be doing things the way you’re expecting them in your head to happen. It takes a good year and it definitely took us more than a year, I think.”
‘No risk it, no biscuit’ is the term Arians and general manager Steve Keim like to use when it comes to the team’s approach to games. Arians will never be accused of being soft when it comes to how he approaches a game. From Day One, Arians said he’s going to run his football team his way, and there’s nobody that’s going to stop him from doing so (being 33-13 as Cardinals head coach will allow him that kind of leeway).
Now, whether Arians being overlooked and cast to the side for so many years during his trek to becoming an NFL head coach has anything to do with the ‘no risk it, no biscuit’ mentality, or Palmer nearing completion of his 13th year in the league, and every day taking steps toward that magical age of 40, he believes none of that plays into Arians fearless approach to attacking the enemy.
“No. No,” Palmer said. “As far as when you’re on the field and you’re playing, you’re just doing what you’re coached to do and trying to make every play work, and trying to put your team in the best place and the best case scenario. But as far as his age, and my years in the league, I don’t know if that has much to do with it.”