Carson Palmer is Wrong About Joe Burrow Being Better than Patrick Mahomes, But the Argument is Good for Football


We need to talk about Carson Palmer putting Joe Burrow above Patrick Mahomes.

Look, this is what happens. There’s room at the top of the mountain for one player. Anyone that wants to be at the top of the mountain is going to have to challenge that player. Anyone that wants someone else to be at the top of the mountain is going to have to challenge that player. 

Sometimes that challenge is a grift. Sometimes it’s genuine. 

I’m going to give the usually quiet Carson Palmer and his $172 million in career earnings the benefit of the doubt that he has no reason to start grifting.

I mean, he was on his brother Jordan’s podcast, and Jordan has trained Joe Burrow in the past, but we’ll let that slide.

So assuming Carson Palmer earnestly challenged the legitimacy of Patrick Mahomes as the NFL’s top dog, let’s address what he said on its merits. 

This is Carson Palmer talking about Joe Burrow:

I think Joe is the best quarterback in the league. I know Patrick [Mahomes] is phenomenal, but I just think Joe’s more consistent. He’s more consistent. He’s more accountable to run the system and the play that’s called and not feel like, “Well, he didn’t win last time and get open for me, so I’m gonna do it with my feet,” and then before you know it, you’re sacked for a four-yard loss because you tried to make two or three guys miss. Joe is just… talk about not having a weakness. Mentally strong, physically tough, accurate, can throw it far enough, fast enough, gets the ball out quick, and then he can actually do a lot with his legs.

So Carson Palmer’s point is that Joe Burrow doesn’t do what Patrick Mahomes does because Cincinnati’s system doesn’t call for it? What, Patrick Mahomes just stumbled his way to being the only QB in NFL history to average over 300 yards passing per game, and the only QB to ever average over 8 yards per Adjusted Net Completion because of a lack of accountability to the offense?

Are we saying that Patrick Mahomes’ weakness is that he’s a better freelancer than all-time great football mind Andy Reid is as a playcaller?

And what are we talking about as far as consistency? Or taking off running too much? Patrick Mahomes has averaged about one rush for every ten dropbacks for the entirety of his career. The only difference between last year, and his first full year as a starter is that he’s much better picking up yardage when he does decide to pull it and run. 

If Patrick Mahomes was a liability in the pocket how is it that he’s 6th all-time in sack percentage? 120 spots ahead of Joe Burrow. 

Joe Burrow literally led the NFL in sacks taken in 2021. He “improved” to sixth most this year. Patrick Mahomes wasn’t even in the top 20.

Look, I don’t want to disparage Joe Burrow at all. He’s everything Carson Palmer said he was, outside of one thing- better than Mahomes. But these are the type of battle scars you accrue when someone holds you up as the best and there just aren’t any metrics out there that agree.

At the same time, I love this. It was great for football when Peyton Manning was Tom Brady’s perpetual challenger for QB supremacy, but at least in that case there were a dozen metrics you could have made that case upon. 

I hope this is an argument we get to have for the next decade- but the next time we have it, there better be some merit to it. 

Let that sink in.





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