Oakland Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer has done well to cut down his interceptions this season. Through four starts, Palmer has compiled five touchdowns compared to two picks and is completing 61.1 percent of his throws.
A heavy majority of Palmer’s completions are coming on checkdowns to running backs and tight ends, however, and he is struggling to get anything going deep. According to numbers compiled by Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle, Palmer is just 1-of-14 on throws of longer than 20 yards downfield this season. He failed to connect on each of his first dozen 20-plus-yard pass attempts.
Palmer’s deep-ball efficiency should pick up going forward. The Raiders opened the season trying to nurse back top deep threat Denarius Moore from a hamstring injury. Moore is 100 percent now. Fellow wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey is also returning from a scary neck/concussion injury, suffered before Oakland’s Week Five bye. Heyward-Bey is listed as probable on the Week Six injury report and fully expected to start Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
The Raiders’ offense is ideally vertical in nature. They want to use a high-volume running game to set up deep shots to their speedy receivers. With Moore and Heyward-Bey back, Oakland has the firepower to make good on the plan.
Now, they just need Palmer to execute.