Larry Fitzgerald is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL today, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at his numbers from last season. His four touchdowns were the lowest season total of his career, and his 71 receptions topped only his rookie year and a year in which he only played in 13 games.
That unimpressive season is a consequence of the poor quarterback play the Cardinals dealt with in 2012 The Cardinals played four different quarterbacks in 2012, and those quarterbacks totaled 11 touchdowns, 21 interceptions, a 55 percent completion percentage and a 63.1 passer rating. None of those four were above average quarterbacks to begin with, and the offensive line didn’t do them any favors. The Cardinals clearly needed someone else throwing to their star receiver.
Enter Carson Palmer, who the Cardinals acquired in a trade with the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders were not racking up wins with Palmer at the helm, but from a statistical standpoint, he played quite well. Last season, Palmer completed 60 percent of his passes and put up over 4,000 yards passing with 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. This all came despite injury and chemistry problems on the Raiders offensive squad.
With Palmer at quarterback, Fitzgerald should be able to bring his stats back up to the level Cardinals fans, or anyone else, in used to seeing. Bruce Arians likes to throw the ball often and far. Now he has a quarterback who can make those deep throws and a receiver who can catch them. Palmer, who likes to throw into tight spaces, will certainly rely on Fitzgerald to make plays downfield, and now Fitz will be in a better position to make them.
Palmer and Fitzgerald, along with just about everyone else, know that passing combination has to work well for the Cardinals offense to succeed. They also know that chemistry is key to getting that combination working. If the Cardinals can build that chemistry and surround the two with a solid supporting cast, their offense could improve by leaps and bounds.
Carson Palmer isn’t the long-term answer for the Cardinals, but for both Fitzgerald and fans, he is a big upgrade. He has the skills to run an offensive system that will help Fitzgerald return to form. Larry Fitzgerald had to deal with an incredibly frustrating season in 2012, but with Carson Palmer under center, he shouldn’t have to deal with that again in 2013.