No, the Cardinals’ Carson Palmer won’t throw for 5,000 yards this season


(Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports)

Gil Brandt has an impressive NFL resume, so when he talks football, I listen. And he says to watch Cardinals quarterack Carson Palmer this year.

The guy that’s going to surprise everybody with 5,000 yards this year … I think [Palmer is] going to have a big year simply because he’s got three really good receivers. One of them is my guy John Brown.”

Wait, what?

In the history of the NFL, there have been eight seasons where a passer has thrown for 5,000 or more yards. Four of them are from Drew Brees. The others: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Dan Marino and Matthew Stafford.

Palmer set a career high in yards last season with 4,274, but that’s still 726 yards short of 5,000. He would have needed another two to three regular season games (97 attempts) to reach it. He would also likely need a couple of 1,000-yard receivers.

In seven of the eight 5,000-yard seasons, the quarterback had two wideouts with at least 2,100 receiving yards between them. In the lone exception (Drew Brees, 2008), there were four receivers with 500 yards or more.

The Cardinals might have had a chance at four with 500 or more yards receiving with last year’s roster, but the departure of Andre Roberts (471 yards) makes it tough. That means Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd would need to be the 1-2 punch in Palmer’s chase for 5,000.

Floyd turned in a 1,041-yard campaign last year in his second season and could do it again. He is only 24 years old and receivers have been known to have their breakout season in years two or three.

Fitzgerald, on the other hand, last had a 1,000-yard season in 2011 and has averaged less than 12 yards per reception in each of the past two years.  And it becomes awfully hard to put up big numbers that way without a 100-reception season.

Plus, don’t expect an increase in defensive penalties to help out much.

In 2003, 54.8 percent of plays were passes that yielded 5.8 yards per play. Of those, 3.7 percent were touchdowns and 3.1 percent were intercepted. The following season saw some slight differences in performance.

NFL passing rates

On the same number of passing plays per game the league was averaging more yards and converting more touchdowns in 2004, the first year of the crackdown. Using the same inflation for this season, also year one of an increased focus on penalties, here is what to expect from an average quarterback making 500 pass attempts in 2014, compared with the same in 2013:

qb2013 vs 2014

Inflate Carlson Palmer’s 2013 campaign the same way, using 572 attempts from last season, and it becomes 4,494 passing yards, still short of a 5,000-yard season.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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Neil Greenberg · August 26

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