Raiders vs. Dolphins: Carson Palmer and Oakland Aim to Retain Lead in AFC West and Inside Track to Playoff Berth

Raiders vs. Dolphins: Carson Palmer and Oakland Aim to Retain Lead in AFC West and Inside Track to Playoff Berth

When the Oakland Raiders acquired Carson Palmer via trade from the Cincinnati Bengals following the injury to Jason Campbell, many people laughed, cringed, or some combination of both. It’s hard not to argue that the Raiders mortgaged way too large a piece of their future gave up too much to land the former Bengals signal-caller. That said, the Raiders recognized the opportunity they had to get a proven veteran that could help lead them to the playoffs and that has not changed. In fact, Palmer’s play has validated the decision, at least when assessing just the short term ramifications of the deal. Palmer’s numbers aren’t great — he’s got just over 1,200 yards with six touchdown passes and eight picks in about four and a half games — but, while Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos get all the talk, the Raiders are 7-4 and control their own destiny to the postseason.

Carson Palmer joined WQAM in Miami with Gino Torretta and Steve White to discuss what the past few weeks have been like playing his way into a rhythm while trying to keep Oakland ahead in the AFC West standings, not looking back at the past and dwelling on things like comparing the organizations of Oakland and Cincinnati, playing for Oakland coach Hue Jackson who he’s known dating back to his pre-USC days, bringing along a group of young receivers, how the Raiders’ rushing attack makes his job easier and the state of the AFC West.

What have the last few weeks been like for you. Has it been easy to get back into rhythm?:

“It definitely hasn’t been easy. It’s been a huge challenge, probably the biggest challenge of my career, but it’s been exciting. It’s fun just to have a fresh start and really try to get up to speed as quickly as possible. … We’re looking to try to get to the playoffs, but we’re taking it one game at a time.”

You went from not playing in Cincinnati to now playing for a potential playoff team in Oakland. Compare the organizations a little:

“I’m looking to the future. I’m not comparing anything in the past. It’s a great organization. I’m excited to be a part of it. It’s a young and hungry football team and a team that hasn’t had success in the past. We’re happy to be where we are but also very hungry to see how far we can go.”

What’s it like to play for Hue Jackson?:

“He may not be young in years, but he’s young the way he acts. He’s a player’s coach. Guys understand him; he can relate to players. He played a little bit of football in his day, so he’s got some history. … Really, he’s a player’s coach. He understands the things we go through and he can be lenient on some things but also very, very stern on some things and hard on some things and I think players really respect that.”

What has it been like working with a group of young receivers?:

“It’s a work in progress right now. We’ve only been at it for, I think, four games. I’m still a little bit off in my rhythm and timing with them. … We watch a lot of film together, we talk a lot … and really just trying to get up to speed as quickly as possible. It’s something that it just doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen right away.”

How much easier does having a really good rushing attack make your job?:

“Anytime a quarterback has a running game, they always say it’s a quarterback’s best friend. It makes defenses get out of Cover 2 looks where they’re really covering down the field and it also helps in the play-action game. When McFadden comes back, it’s going to be a very dynamic offense. While Michael’s in the game, like I said before, he just punishes the defense. … He’s just a very smart football player in the backfield.”

Do you take a look around this goofy division at all or just focus on the Raiders?:

“We’re at a point where we’re very fortunate to control our own destiny. We don’t need to worry about what other teams do. We don’t need to be looking in the rearview mirror. … We have a difficult schedule ahead of us. We still have Green Bay and Detroit and a big division game in Kansas City and have to play the Chargers again. We just need to take it one game at a time and control what we do.”

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