The New England Patriots certainly will have their hands full come Sunday night when they visit the Arizona Cardinals.
Without quarterback Tom Brady for four games, the Patriots will lean on the play of their powerful defense while figuring out what third-year QB Jimmy Garoppolo can do versus a starting NFL defense. There’s only one problem with that strategy: the Cardinals can put points up with the best offenses in the NFL.
Arizona’s starting quarterback, Carson Palmer, is coming off a Pro Bowl season in 2015. Even at age 36, he’s a threat to light up any team at any time. Palmer’s biggest strength might also be his biggest weakness, though: He’s comfortable sitting in the pocket, waiting for his receivers to break free and get open. As a result, he takes a lot of sacks — 25 last season.
Knowing that gives teams something to exploit — if they don’t get burned by it first.
“Carson (Palmer) is definitely willing to stand in there and deliver the ball under pressure and wait until the last second to get rid of it,” Belichick explained on a media conference call Monday morning. “I mean he is a big, strong guy now. He’s big for a quarterback and has a good frame so I’m not saying any quarterback wants to get hit a lot, but there are some guys that can absorb more of those (sacks) than others. … He’s sharp. He knows when he needs to get rid of the ball and I think he also knows when he might need to hold it just a little bit longer to give the receivers a chance to get into an open space or make a play, and he’s strong and tough and able to take those hits.”
It helps Palmer that he has a surplus of excellent offensive skill players to deliver the ball to.
“We have a lot of respect for him as a player, as a person, and he has certainly done a great job for the Cardinals in leading them to the success that they’ve had since he has been there. He is playing at a very high level,” Belichick continued. “He’s in a great offensive system with coach (Bruce) Arians’ offense and they have a lot of great players on that side of the ball. They have a lot of great players, period, but they have a lot of great players on the offensive side of the ball and they are a hard team to stop. They score a lot of points and they can move the ball up and down the field quickly, so he is one of the many problems we’ll have to deal with on Sunday night.”
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