Originally Posted by Sabo Fan
Where to start... that's fantastic that Palmer has been very good in what, his last eight games or so. No doubt he's a talented quarterback who is on the upswing. However, I'd like to wait for him to get a full year in before I go proclaiming him to be the second best QB in the NFL (which is essentially what you're saying). You hear all the time about small sample size and that concerns me with Palmer. He's good, no question, but I'll take Culpepper over Palmer every time. Moss certainly helped him, but couldn't you make the same case that Chad Johnson helps Carson Palmer out? Culpepper's career QB rating is 91.5 and he has a career completion percentage just a bit under 65%. I don't care who you are, there is no QB that can put up those numbers if he was just a byproduct of a great wide receiver. Are we suddenly going to knock the likes of Montana and Young down a notch because they had Jerry Rice? No, and you would be crazy to. So why is it any different with Culpepper? He's proven he's a big-time player in this league.
Then let's take a look at that 2000 NFC Championship game. Before Culpepper even set foot on the field he was down 14-0 and facing a team playing downhill. Add in one awful defense that gave up points at an alarming rate and again you have a situation no QB can succeed in. That game was essentially over by the time he took the first snap. Oh, and he did lead them to that game, throwing 33 TD passes with 16 interceptions and a QB rating of 98.0 that year. Not too bad.
Don't get me wrong here; Culpepper has struggled very badly at times. His 2001 and 2002 seasons were very poor, but he was playing on teams that were also very poor. Having to score 35 points a game isn't a good thing to ask a young QB to do. You may not be willing to look past the raw numbers those two years, but I watched just about every game during those two seasons and can tell you that he was a QB trying to shoulder way too much of the load, much like he is this season. It was a recipe for an injury those years (he missed the final five games of the 2001 season) and I worry it might be the same this year. Even during those two years he put up respectable numbers in the completion percentage department of 61 and 64. In 2002, he tossed for 3800 yards. Not too bad for a team that went 6-10.
When I look at Daunte Culpepper I see the second-most physically gifted QB in the league (behind Vick, though in his case I think I'd trade some of that insane physical ability for a few more points of completion percentage). The guy has linebacker size, great arm strength and mobility, and has shown over his career to be a very accurate passer. I understand not wanting to trade Palmer for Culpepper, but I don't think you would find too many NFL personnel guys who wouldn't if the two were the same age, made the same money, etc.
Look at Culpepper's 2004 season. If you do, take it in, because you're looking at one of the best statistical seasons for a QB of all-time. Don't take my word for it, look at what the pundits said about it and do the research, you'll see the same thing. 41 TD's (2 running), a completion percentage of 70%, a rating of 111. Look at those numbers and tell me that's a "QB with average accuracy and an above-average arm with the ability to throw Randy Moss a bomb," as you so eloquently stated. Do you work for the Browns by any chance?
I don't know who wrote the quote you cited, but he's way off. In fact, the opposite is true. Sure they'd throw the bomb to Moss 2-3 times a game, but so would every other offensive coordinator worth a darn. I don't see how that's an indictment of Culpepper's ability, that's just maximizing the talent of your personnel. Now though, Culpepper seems to be looking to throw shorter routes to his receivers all the time. I haven't seen him take more than three shots downfield through the first two games. What's happened is that defenses know they have no running game so they can drop the safeties back and wait for him to throw. There is no consistent deep threat on the Vikings right now so there's no reason to double anyone and it forces Culpepper to thread the needle every time and force the ball into coverage. No QB can succeed with no running game, a center and right guard who resemble turnstiles and who is also playing behind most of the time. None. Simply cannot happen.
Bottom line here: Culpepper has proven that he is an elite NFL quarterback, despite his awful start to 2005. Unfortunately, it seems as though a lot of Viking fans share your mindset that he's only an average QB and seem ready to throw him under the bus. Fortunately for the Vikings though they have good front office people and an owner who know better. I have no doubt that he'll turn things around and return to form at some point this season. I wish I knew when that will be, but there was so much off-season change at key positions that it's difficult to tell when things will get straightened out.