By Danny O’Neil
“Person of Interest” is a weekly feature in which we put the microscope on one player from the Seahawks’ upcoming opponent. This week, it’s Arizona’s Carson Palmer.
• Position: Former cadaver, reincarnated franchise quarterback
• Height: 6-5
• Weight: 235
• Age: 33
• Experience: 11th season
When the Seahawks faced Palmer and the Cardinals in Week 7, he looked like a quarterback whose career was ready for an epitaph. Palmer was playing for his third team in four years, he was picked off twice by the Seahawks – leaving him with 13 interceptions over the first seven games of 2013 – and he had a record of 15-32 as a starting quarterback going back to the start of 2010.
What happened next constitutes the single most surprising turnaround in the league this season. Not only has Arizona won six of the seven regular-season games it has played since that loss to the Seahawks, but Palmer has been critical to that turnaround. He has thrown 13 touchdown passes over those seven games and been picked off just four times. His passer rating in that time: 106.
The one concern is that Palmer is still getting sacked a whole bunch. Thirty-eight times to be exact, which is tied for fifth-most among all quarterbacks in the league. And the fact he sat out practice Wednesday because of a sore ankle points to the price he has paid.
The Seahawks sacked Palmer seven times in the first meeting, and that was on the road. Seattle’s pass rush could turn out to be a real difference-maker this week.
Palmer is in the midst of a renaissance reminiscent of his college career at USC. Entering his senior year with the Trojans, he was considered to have underachieved given how highly he was touted coming out of Santa Margarita High School in Orange County. Then, as a senior, he spearheaded the Trojans’ turnaround, winning the Heisman Trophy in what was Pete Carroll’s second year as USC’s head coach.
While Palmer isn’t going to earn the MVP with his second-half turnaround with the Cardinals this season, that doesn’t make it any less impressive.
“It looks to be kind of a culmination of his career,” Carroll said. “He’s really sharp, he’s making good choices, he’s got pretty good protection, he’s got terrific receivers to go to and all of that is fitting together really well.”