The Cardinals are establishing an identity on how they win games and it looks the part of the brutal division they play in, the NFC West teams all have the same pedigree and that is run first and play stellar defense. This was not the initial game plan but sense the turnovers have come frequently while trying to go down field, this plan has seemed to be the way to win in not just the division but against any team in the NFL.
One thing is wrong with this new found way of winning, and that is where has star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald been threw all of these changes. First it was said that he would be moved around to be able to catch 100 balls or more in this offense, and that was done under Bruce Arians the year before with Reggie Wayne and rookie quarterback Andrew Luck with the Indianapolis Colts.
So why hasn’t it work out the same way for Fitzgerald? Is Reggie Wayne a better receiver? Or is Andrew Luck as a rookie better than Carson Palmer? These are good questions to answer and I think the fans have spoken over the course of the season as to the correct answers.
Larry Fitzgerald has not reached his end yet, in fact he is primed and in good physical shape to have a few more monster years like he had under Kurt Warner when he averaged 1400 yards per year and was always around the 80-100 reception range. The question is will he have them here in Arizona or another organization?.
Now we are hearing trade rumors and questions about Larry being washed up and on the down side which is ridiculous to think, anyone that knows the game of football well enough knows that Larry Fitzgerald is still able to be elite in this league. When asked about his production Fitzgerald will always take the high road and say the right things and not bring attention to him self and that has always been who he is as a person, and in my opinion we need more like him.
But the production on the field has Fitzgerald currently at 41st in yards and 40th in receptions and for him that is well below average, especially when the new positions he had to learn were suppose to elevate him back to his familiar status.
So what has been the problem? I don’t see teams doubling him as much and the moving him around has not yielded dynamic results, he’s the same receiver with the same talent but seems to be forgotten during the course of a game, in fact this game last Sunday against the Houston Texans was the second time this season that Fitzgerald went through an entire half without getting a catch. In my opinion as a writer first and an analyst second and a fan last, the problem is not Fitzgerald.
The problem is clearly from the quarterback position as usual in Fitzgerald’s case, Carson Palmer has not been the savior to the passing game that Fitzgerald was so excited about when the team acquired him; in fact his numbers are worse.
Yes it takes time to get the offense down with timing and positioning but with a star receiver like Fitzgerald it should not be an issue to get him the ball, and not only that, Michael Floyd should be better than he is right now seeing the defense is watching Larry most of the time, the quarterback play should make this entire receiving core better but the entire receiving core has not looked comfortable in this system yet after nine weeks of regular season and OTA’s and training camp.
So far this year Carson Palmer has not been the down the field passer he was brought in to be in this system, he has been an interception machine throwing at least one pick in every game this year trying to go down field, it simply has not worked, instead of Fitzgerald being on the down side of his career, it is clear that Palmer is in the last stages of his. Veteran quarterbacks should have enough experience to be able to get the ball to a dynamic receiver without mental mistakes playing such a big role every week, which is a clear sign of backup status on the horizon or perhaps retirement for Palmer.
It may not be fair to put all the blame on Carson Palmer, coaching scheme plays a part, and how much is Fitzgerald’s part, I think if I had to put a percentage on things I would give Palmer 60% and 30% to coaching and scheme and 10% to Fitzgerald having to learn multiple positions and attracts all the attention defensively.
The team is now a running team first and Palmer is not able to force the ball in spots that give Larry an opportunity to make a play without getting a interception, so this is not much different than last year one would say, there is a difference, they’re winning, and that will shut everyone up for now. Larry Fitzgerald was quoted after Sunday’s game answering the production questions and his response was
“It feels good to be winning like were winning, people know what you’re going to do and can’t stop it”
In other words (my opinion) he was saying I’m happy because we are winning but when this is over I’m outta here!
The off season will be very interesting this year, as the team has the option to build upon what they will finish this year, or they can completely start over at quarterback and receiver, why is it for a receiver who is this talented just cant find a quarterback to get him the ball, but he gets all the blame for not being the same Larry Fitzgerald, make no sense to me, just throw him the damn ball.