By Steve Corkran
Wednesday, October 24th, 2012 at 4:32 pm in Oakland Raiders.
For whatever reason, Carson Palmer hasn’t been able to win over the Raiders fan base since his arrival here a year ago.
Strange, too, given Palmer bailed out the Raiders from a tough situation when then-starter Jason Campbell suffered a season-ending collarbone injury and how well he has played this season.
Palmer is on pace for 4,619 yards passing this season, which would eclipse his career-high by almost 500 yards. He passed for more than 4,000 yards twice in his eight seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals — he didn’t play his rookie season — but he hasn’t reached that mark in five seasons.
Some people feel as if then-coach Hue Jackson gave up too much to wrest Palmer from the Bengals. The deal just before the 2011 trade deadline cost the Raiders their first-round pick in this year’s draft, as well as their second-rounder in 2013.
Yet, they tend to overlook the fact that the Raiders weren’t going anywhere with Kyle Boller as the replacement for Campbell. They had to make a drastic move, and such moves come with a heavy price sometimes.
Palmer relieved Boller in the seventh game last season, a touch past halftime of a blowout loss at the Coliseum. He started the final nine games.
Therefore, Palmer has played in the equivalent of an entire season since he joined the Raiders. In those 16 games, Palmer has completed 347 of 569 passes (61 percent) for 4,485 yards, with 20 TDs and 20 interceptions.
It says here, Palmer unquestionably is the best quarterback the Raiders have had since Rich Gannon cobbled together four straight remarkable seasons from 1999-2002.
Palmer is signed through the 2016 season. He turns 33 late this season, yet he is playing as well, or better, than he did during his prime.
Coach Dennis Allen time and again makes it clear that he is firmly behind Palmer. For example, Allen praised Palmer for the way he accepted blame for the Raiders loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
“That’s the type of quarterback you want; a guy that’s going to step up and take responsibility and not look to pass the buck on anybody else,” Allen said. “Carson has played extremely well for us. He’s a stand-up guy, and that’s one of the reasons that I’m glad he’s our quarterback.”
– Wide receiver Juron Criner (hip), defensive end Matt Shaughnessy (shoulder) and safety Mike Mitchell (ankle) suffered injuries in practice today. All three were limited as a result.
Allen said he is unsure whether any of the injuries is serious enough to cause the players to miss much time.
“We’ll have to get in here with the trainers and see where we’re at,” Allen said.
Shaughnessy missed most of last season with a shoulder injury that required surgery. Allen said he doesn’t know yet whether Shaughnessy injured the same shoulder.
– The Raiders released No. 1 cornerback Stanford Routt during the offseason, sending him packing with a satchel full of guaranteed money and a thanks for six seasons’ service.
Routt landed with the Chiefs, where he is paired with Brandon Flowers as the starting cornerbacks. As to how well Routt is faring, here’s coach Romeo Crennel’s take:
“Stanford has been learning our system, and he has been coming on,” Crennel said in a conference call. “He has an interception. He had a rough outing the last time. He was in position to make plays, and we didn’t make them. The opponent made them. Otherwise, he has been working well.”
The Raiders signed veterans Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer to help fill the void created by Routt’s departure. Bartell suffered a shoulder injury in the first game, Spencer hurt his foot in the second game. Neither has played ever since.
Routt allowed 47.4 percent of the passes thrown his way to be completed last season. This season, that figures has spiked to 58.1 percent, according to STATS Inc. Teams completed 18 of 31 passes for 328 yards and one touchdown vs. Routt the first six games. By comparison, former Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha has allowed 16 receptions in 31 passes for 318 an two touchdowns in six games for the Eagles this season.
Safety Mike Mitchell, whose locker was next to Routt’s, enjoyed giving his former teammate a bad time from afar. Mitchell said he texts with Routt often, but not this week. Asked if he thought Palmer would target Routt and try and get some penalty yards, Mitchell said, “I wish he would. I wish we would run at him every play and throw at him every play, just so he has to work. Let’s make him work. Let’s make it hard on him, let’s not make it easy on him. I feel that’s how he would want it and it’s definitely how we want it. We want to make him compete.”
Mitchell also relayed a story told by Routt after he’d been released and signed by the rival Kansas City Chiefs.
“He told me, I’m not mad, I’m getting paid by half the AFC West,” Mitchell said. “My whole thing, I just want to make him earn his money. I want to run at him every play, I want to throw at him every play. Make him earn that money.”
– The Raiders faced the Jaguars coming off a bye week. On Sunday, they face a Chiefs team that also is fresh from a bye.
The Jaguars surprised the Raiders by installing several defensive looks during the extra time to prepare. Those changes caused the Raiders fit in terms of running the ball and protecting Palmer.
Crennel said he and his coaches spent their time focusing more on ways to get more production from a team that went 1-5 before the bye.
“I wanted to work on us and kind of get through us, improve this game,” Crennel said. “So, we worked on fundamentals and the things that we need to do to try to be better in all phases of the game.”
Allen said facing teams coming off a bye presents some challenges for the Raiders in terms of playing a team that is fresh and has had an extra week to game plan for the Raiders.
“We all understand what they’re going through because we just went through the same things a couple of weeks ago,” Allen said. “So, we know that they’re going to come out ready to play, they’ll be emotionally, physically and mentally ready to play, and we’ve got to be ready to meet that challenge.”
– In a strange coincidence, Raiders running back Darren McFadden is playing against the Chiefs in the seventh game of the season. That’s the same opponent and game number in which McFadden suffered a Lisfranc injury that sidelined him for the final nine-plus games.
McFadden rushed twice for 4 yards against the Chiefs last season in a game played at the Coliseum before he suffered his injury. He missed the rest of the season.
Also of note, McFadden suffered the first of his two turf-toe injuries his rookie season against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, when he was dragged down from behind by safety Bernard Pollard at the end of a long run.
Good thing the game isn’t played on Halloween this year.
– The three previous Raiders coaches went undefeated against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Now it’s Allen’s turn to see if he can keep the streak going.
Two of Lane Kiffin’s five victories in 20 games as the Raiders head coach came against the Chiefs on the road. Tom Cable guided the Raiders to two straight victories there, as well. Hue Jackson went 1-0 at Arrowhead Stadium in his lone season as coach.
– Allen said he is impressed by the way defensive end Lamarr Houston has played. Houston was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his play against the Jaguars on Sunday.
“I’m extremely proud of him and the way that he’s played,” Allen said. “He’s a guy that has continued to get better, that’s really bought into the effort part playing defense. If he continues to do the things that he’s been doing, his talent will allow him to be a productive player.”
Allen said Houston is the kind of player that can play inside and outside, but he doesn’t want to limit him to one position. He views Houston as a player that can make plays from anywhere on the field and someone determined to make an impact every play.
– A couple of things wrong with the idea of going no-huddle all the time, in theory putting the game in the hands of Palmer and bypassing offensive coordiantor Greg Knapp.
First, Palmer says it won’t work. Second, Palmer said Knapp calls most of the plays in the no-huddle.
“If that’s all you’re going to come into the game with you completely limit yourself, from personnel groups, to formations, to protections, in the red zone, on third down, (when you’re) backed up,’’ Palmer said. “It’s not feasible. It’s a good change-up. It gets us out of a rut every once in awhile . . . it’s not something you can run all the time.’’
While Palmer has more latitude to change plays at the line of scrimmage in the no-huddle based on what he sees from the defense, he disputes the notion that the system turns him into a play-caller.
“A lot of times in no-huddle coach Knapp’s calling the plays,’’ Palmer said. “The majority of the time.’’