TEMPE, Ariz. — Carson Palmer’s numbers aren’t pretty so far in his first season in Arizona.
Through six games — three wins and three losses — Palmer has seven touchdown passes and 11 interceptions. Only Eli Manning (15) has thrown more interceptions.
Whether or not the interceptions are his fault or the fault of a receiver running the wrong route, the blame always falls on the quarterback, and Palmer says he accepts that fact.
“That’s the quarterback position,” he said after the team’s practice on Tuesday. “I’ve been playing it my whole life. I understand. When you win, you’re the hero. When you lose, you’re the bum. It doesn’t really matter how you play in between. That’s just the way it is. That’s fine with me.”
On Monday, coach Bruce Arians said the receivers were to blame for the two early interceptions Palmer threw in Sunday’s 32-20 loss at San Francisco.
Larry Fitzgerald said he and the rest of the Cardinals receivers must do a better job to make life easier for their quarterback.
“We’ve got to be on the same page with him,” Fitzgerald said. “We’ve got to make sure that when he’s dropping back he can trust that we’re going to be in the position and places that we need to be in, so he can be confident when he’s releasing the football. That will give him peace of mind. That will settle him down. We have to do a better job for him. We have to make it as easy as we can for him.”
It’s all part of what’s been a slow process of learning Arians’ intricate offense.
“There’s no quick fix, no way to get around it,” Palmer said. “It’s just repetition on repetition on repetition. It’s always a work in progress, whether you’re in year one or year three or four.”
The offense probably played its best of the season in the third quarter at San Francisco.
Down 22-20, Arizona was driving and in field-goal range late in the quarter when Patrick Willis knocked the ball from Fitzgerald’s hands and the 49ers recovered the fumble, one of four Cardinals turnovers in the game.
“It may have been,” Palmer said when asked if it was the offense’s best this year, “but there were a ton of things we didn’t take advantage of. There were still some opportunities that we didn’t make plays. It was better than what we’ve done, but I don’t think anybody’s satisfied with it.”
Fitzgerald said Arians has talked to him about taking better care of the ball.
“I was just trying to do too much and I cost my team the game,” Fitzgerald said. “I have to make sure that moving forward I don’t make the same mistakes. It’s a learning situation. Unfortunately it’s one that really hurt me and it hurt my club.”
The fumble soured what had been Fitzgerald’s best day of the season. Despite playing with a sore hamstring, he caught six passes for 117 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown play.
The Cardinals have a short week before they are home against the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night, and Fitzgerald was asked how his aching leg would respond to such a quick turnaround.
“Aching leg?” he said. “My leg is fine.”
Last season with Oakland, Palmer threw for 22 touchdowns with 14 interceptions.
In his 10-year career, he has thrown for 196 touchdowns with 141 picks. Discounting his injury-shortened 2008 season, Palmer has had only one year — his first in Oakland two seasons ago — when he threw more interceptions than touchdown passes.
To have 11 this early in the season gnaws at him.
“I expect to put us in situations where we’re in the plus category,” Palmer said. “… With our defense and the turnovers that they get, from here on out we’ve got to do a better job, I’ve got to do a better job in that category.”
But as this learning process, slower than Arians expected, continues, Palmer is ready to take responsibility when things go wrong.
“I love playing this position,” he said, “and I understand that comes with the territory and that’s part of it. It doesn’t bother me at all. I’ve got broad shoulders. I can take on anything. I’ve been doing it for a long time.”
Notes: Fitzgerald was limited in practice, as were DE Calais Campbell (neck), LB John Abraham (shoulder), ILB Karlos Dansby (quadricep) and TE Rob Housler (ankle). … The Cardinals announced the Seahawk game is a sellout. Arizona has sold out all 85 games since University of Phoenix Stadium opened.