Carson Palmer is not an old man. He would be the youngest president in U.S. history. He’d be the second youngest Backstreet Boy. Kanye West is older.
That’s the real world. In the football world, Palmer was already on his last legs before breaking his non-throwing arm against the Rams. Now he’s staring directly in the face of football mortality. Palmer will miss at least the next eight weeks, meaning he won’t be back before Christmastime. By then, it’s possible that not only will the Cardinals’ season be over, but this entire era of Cardinals football.
Bruce Arians’ club is 3-4, and long in the tooth at basically every position on offense. There is some younger and brighter talent on defense — Patrick Peterson and Chandler Jones, specifically — but not nearly enough to carry a team. The rebuild appears to be here, and after barely committing to 2017, Palmer is extremely unlikely to be a part of it.
That’s a shame for a former No. 1 overall pick who could never quite meet his destiny, but just the way of the world in this violent national pastime. If Palmer is done, it will be with 294 touchdowns in 182 career games. Only 11 quarterbacks have visited the end zone more often in NFL history. Palmer is, of course, partly a product of his era, but making it to age 37 under center is a major accomplishment in any era.
Five Week 7 Storylines
The Falcons’ offensive misery deepens. The Patriots entered Week 7 having just become the first team in NFL history to allow six straight 300-yard passers. They were the perfect get-right matchup for a Falcons offense that managed just 34 total points in consecutive home losses to the Bills and Dolphins. Steve Sarkisian’s offense did not get right, coming closer to getting shut out than breaking out. Even with the running game averaging 5.45 yards per carry, Matt Ryan and company could not sustain drives. Sensing the gravity of the situation, coach Dan Quinn tried to spark his squad with two gutsy fourth down calls. All that accomplished was a missed field goal and turnover on downs. Something needs to change, and it could be Sark. Quinn has barely been able to contain his frustration with an attack that was literally historic a season ago. Sunday, Sark didn’t run enough and didn’t scheme the ball into his playmakers’ hands enough. Eventually, something’s got to give. We know it won’t be the players.
Jay Cutler officially starts the quarterback controversy coach Adam Gase was desperate to avoid. No matter how poorly Cutler played through the Dolphins’ 3-2 start, Gase held fast to the idea that he was the team’s quarterback, saying the idea of a change was a non-starter. Cutler started it in typical Cutler fashion against the Jets, with an injury. With Miami trailing 21-14 early in the third quarter, Cutler crunched his ribs. He would not return, and will be sidelined the next 2-3 weeks. In his absence, Matt Moore led the Dolphins on a 17-7, game-closing run. His 188 yards in 28 minutes were just 42 off Cutler’s season-high. Moore left little doubt as to who should be under center in Miami right now. The Ravens will be a daunting short-week matchup — the Dolphins play on Thursday Night Football — as Moore stakes his claim to the job, but the Raiders should be more forgiving in Week 9 if Cutler remains sidelined.
DeMarco Murray leads the Titans’ backfield against the Browns. All signs pointed to Derrick Henry. All roads ended at Murray. Playing on one leg on a short week after getting in one limited practice, Murray out-snapped Henry 43-30, out-touched him 21-15 and out-gained him 76-24. After Henry stole the show against the Colts, Murray canceled it in Cleveland. It would have been baffling bordering on inexplicable had Murray not, you know, played better. With the game lasting until the final minutes of overtime, Henry had five quarters to prove he was ready to move past Murray once and for all. He did the opposite, and now Murray has the Titans’ bye week to rest a balky hamstring that’s been bothering him since training camp. There will almost certainly be more Titans backfield drama. We just know we can’t count Murray out of it.
Delanie Walker injures his ankle. Playing on a bum calf, Walker caught 7-of-10 targets for 63 yards in the Titans’ eyesore of a win over the Browns. He appeared to be home free until he was spotted on crutches in the locker room after the game. The diagnosis was not an aggravation of his calf issue, but an ankle injury, one ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe speculates is a high sprain. That’s a multi-week, sometimes month, ailment, though the Titans are on bye for Week 8. That means we’re unlikely to get meaningful word on Walker’s health until the Titans issue their next injury report, which won’t be until All Saints’ Day. Impressive rookie Jonnu Smith would have TE2 appeal were Walker to miss time.
DeShone Kizer gets benched for the second time in three weeks. Sunday was the sound of things going from bad to worse for the Browns. Against the backdrop of the iron man to end all iron men going down — get well soon, Joe Thomas — Kizer picked up where he left off on his previous benching, averaging 5.70 yards per attempt and tossing two interceptions while providing zero scores. His TD:INT ratio is now a laughable 3:11. One week on the sideline clearly wasn’t enough for the toolsy-but-raw rookie. Unfortunately for Kizer, he’s probably blown his last, best chance to convince the Browns he’s their future under center. Cody Kessler will get an extended look while the front office digs in on 2018 first-round prospects.
Brett Hundley completely faceplants in first NFL start. There’s no way to sugarcoat this one. Hundley wasn’t ready, completing just 12-of-25 passes for 87 yards in a dismal home loss. As his pre-draft scouting report suggested, he had little feel for the pocket, not sensing the rush. He also waited too long for plays to develop, often pulling the trigger only once the defense had time to get into position on a previously-open receiver. Hundley shouldn’t be expected to have Aaron Rodgers’ timing, but you have to have some at the NFL level. Hundley didn’t on Sunday. The good news, though sparse, is not nonexistent. Hundley displayed some juice with his legs, taking the rock three times for 44 yards and a score. His 14-yard touchdown wasn’t a designed run. Hundley tucked it, found the edge and lowered his shoulder at the goal line. Beyond that, he has the Packers’ Week 8 bye to lick his wounds and grind some film. Fantasy owners hoping they had found the next dual-threat lifehack would be well served by giving Hundley a wait-and-see day in Week 9.
Aaron Jones seizes control of the Packers’ backfield. If Hundley was dispiriting, Jones was refreshing, beginning his pass of Ty Montgomery on the first snap and never looking back. Jones rushed four times for 70 yards on the Packers’ opening series, capping things off with a 46-yard score. Jones patiently waited for the (small) hole to develop, made one cut and was gone. Jones shined both between the tackles and around the edge. He out-snapped TyMont 44-7, out-touching him 20-5 and out-gaining him 138-15. It’s been clear for four weeks now that Jones is the Packers’ best runner. Even for Mike McCarthy, that will probably be too much evidence to ignore coming off Green Bay’s Week 8 bye. Jones is an every-week RB2 going forward.
Latavius Murray out-runs Jerick McKinnon. Coming off two eminently forgettable rushing performances as the Vikings adjusted to life without Dalvin Cook, Murray upended the Weeks 5 and 6 order in the Vikes’ backfield, running circles around McKinnon, at least for one game. McKinnon did maintain a snap advantage, while Murray received just one more touch (18-17). Murray was the more impressive player against the Ravens, but his big day probably changes less than you think. McKinnon still has a stranglehold on passing-down duties, and won’t be surrendering his change-of-pace work. The main consequence of Murray’s nice day was putting him on the FLEX radar for solid matchups. At least on paper, that’s not what the Browns are for Week 8.
Martavis Bryant disappears again, tries to tweet through it. One week after playing a season-low 33 snaps, Bryant was on the field for just 36 plays against the Bengals. He caught one pass for three yards, tacking on a pointless two-yard rush. Understandably upset, Bryant not-so-understandably lashed out for the second straight postgame, posting on Instagram that he was better than JuJu Smith-Schuster, and that “all (the Steelers) need to do is give me what I want and y'all can have JuJu and whoever else." Not smart, not wise. Probably confirmation that Bryant does indeed want a trade. The deadline is eight days away. Unless the Steelers are desperate to get Bryant out of their locker room, it’s unclear why they would make a move. Why would a Super Bowl-contending team shed proven playmaking depth? Bryant’s 2017 seems destined to be lost from a fantasy perspective.
The Broncos’ offense fully collapses. Trevor Siemian posted a season-worst 5.91 YPA and tossed his seventh interception as the Broncos were shut out in Los Angeles. Siemian is now the owner of a 2:5 TD:INT ratio over his past four starts, a stretch in which the Broncos have averaged 10.5 points. C.J. Anderson and the running game were scarcely better, generating 69 yards on 19 carries (3.63 YPC) against what’s been one of the league’s worst run defenses. Emmanuel Sanders’ (ankle) absence didn’t help, but it’s hard to see how his presence would have made a significant difference. We’re probably not far away from Brock Osweiler getting another chance under center in Denver. Second-year first-rounder Paxton Lynch is still recovering from August shoulder surgery.
1. Can the Browns start benching other teams’ quarterbacks if they run out of their own?
2. Does Steve Sarkisian know these games aren’t just on the PAC-12 Network?
3. Was Mitchell Trubisky drafted as a quarterback?
Early Waiver Look (Players owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)
DEF: Bengals (vs. IND), Saints (vs. CHI), Dolphins (@BAL),
Stats of the Week
10,363. That’s how many consecutive snaps Joe Thomas played before his triceps injury. Monumental.
Mark Ingram has gone over 100 yards rushing in both games since the Saints traded Adrian Peterson. Alvin Kamara, meanwhile, is averaging 97 yards from scrimmage since AD was shipped out. This is looking like a turbocharged version of the Falcons’ two-man backfield.
Were the season to end today, Joe Flacco’s 5.31 YPA would be the 32nd worst in NFL history by a quarterback with at least 224 attempts (Flacco’s current number).
Mitchell Trubisky has 24 completions in 12 quarters. So far, he’s been sub-Tebow.
The Too On The Nose Award, From The Ringer’s Kevin Clark on the Falcons: A literal fog enveloping a once-fun team that can't score a touchdown during the 2017 NFL season is a little too on the nose
Sinking Realization of the Week, From NBC’s Chris Hayes: Brady’s gonna play till he’s 50 isn’t he