NAPA -- It was Carson Palmer vs. NFL chaos last year, and the chaos won.
He "retired" from the Bengals in the spring, was traded to the Raiders in October, debuted five days later and essentially played the 2011 season as one long quarterbacking emergency.
There was some good; there was also a lot that wasn't good for both Palmer and the Raiders, who went 4-5 in his starts.
And you can tell Palmer is enormously pleased that he's not going through the hurry-hurry/rush-rush of 2011 any more.
"I didn't even read every page in the playbook," Palmer told me after a training camp practice this week. "I didn't have a chance. I didn't even read 50 percent of it.
"I was just trying to read the plays I was hoping (coach Hue Jackson) would call."
You know the No-Huddle Offense. But what about the No-Study Offense?
There was no time for actual preparation; it was guesswork. And Palmer happens to play the position that requires the most preparation and suffers the most from guesswork.
Palmer was in deep water and ended up throwing 16 interceptions in 10 games; he threw for a lot of yards (275.3 per game), but it wasn't enough.
Meanwhile, the Raiders had just lost Al Davis, had given up two high picks for Palmer, were being run by the hyperbolic Jackson, and the entire franchise was jumpy and bewildered.
Jackson and the Raiders needed Palmer to be a savior on the fly, which is just not Palmer's style.
But Palmer was put in a bad spot with the Raiders last year, and there's no other way to analyze it.
That's why Palmer seems so happily locked in during camp this year under new coach Dennis Allen. Palmer's passes are on a rope, and his presence is fairly commanding.
Palmer, embracing his grizzled veteran persona at 32, is loving the grind and repetition of plotting out a full-scale, widescreen NFL offense.
It's a new offense for him -- the West Coast, implemented by coordinator Greg Knapp, complete with bootlegs, movement, and short timing patterns.
"We're going through and installing every play," Palmer said. "We've already done 'Install 1' four times, and we have 14 installs to do. And we'll do them each four times. There's no comparison (to last year) whatsoever."
OK, back to last year ...
Palmer went with the flow during the fanfare of his Raiders arrival and sudden insertion over Kyle Boller midway through a terrible home loss to Kansas City.
But now we're hearing a little bit about the tumult Palmer felt in the middle of the whirlwind.
"When you go back and look at it, the first game I played in, I never even watched a snap of tape of Kansas City, because I wasn't going to play," Palmer said.
Then Boller struggled, and the Raiders went down 21-0, and Jackson sent a surprised Palmer into the game early in the third quarter.
The result for Palmer: Not good, but not too shocking, either.
"I threw three (interceptions) in that game that I would've never thrown if I knew they played 'Cover 6' and the corner rolled up on hitches, you know what I mean?" Palmer said.
"There were so many times that I was just pressing and trying to make a play because I wasn't comfortable. That's what I'm doing now, getting comfortable and getting confident within the scheme, within what we're trying to do as an offense, when to take a chance, when not to take a chance and all those things."
What about his comfort level with the entire organization? The Raiders themselves are calling it a "new era," and they're not at all wrong.
There's new owner Mark Davis, new general manager Reggie McKenzie, new coach Allen and all the structural changes they've made or are planning to make.
Palmer said he hasn't followed their moves moment to moment, but he's noticing major positive steps.
"The organization has figured out ways so that you as a player, all you have to focus on is football," Palmer said. "There's nothing else you have to focus on."
I guess we can assume that's a big difference from what Palmer experienced in Cincinnati?
"I'm very happy here," Palmer said. "Everything is very well run, done the right way. From a player's standpoint, the way this is being run is the way it should be run."
Last year, Palmer escaped the situation he knew and disliked in Cincinnati (though the Bengals made the playoffs last season, it must be noted) and dropped into a crisis situation in Oakland that probably no QB could have saved.
It's different now. He's the same guy. Will his performance be anything like it was in 2011?
"No comparison," Palmer said. "I mean, no comparison."
Palmer wouldn't say that unless he was sure; he wouldn't be sure unless he knew that the work was getting done, and that the Raiders' emergency offense is a thing of the past.