Arizona Cardinals: Who is on a Hot Streak or a Cold Streak After Week 1?
Sep 8, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) against the San Diego Chargers at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Cold Streak: Larry Fitzgerald (1)
Larry Fitzgerald had one catch and was not targeted until the final quarter. Yes, those words are as strange to type as they are to read. Even more unusual, on some occasions that had three receiver formations, he wasn’t even on the field. There are two reasons for this.
The first is that he was a little behind in practice. AZCentral.com reported that Fitzgerald had been limited for a couple of weeks prior due to a minor knee issue. Arians didn’t want Fitzgerald in on plays he wasn’t practiced for. That’s a totally legitimate reason to have him on the field a little less than everyone is used to.
The second reason is more systemic: Fitzgerald no longer needs to be the one to stuff the stat sheet. Michael Floyd, John Brown, and Andre Ellington are there for that purpose. Fitzgerald’s value may be shrinking statistically, but his role has evolved to fit the new personnel on the roster. He draws the attention of defenses because he has a reputation of making plays, leaving other players with more room to work.
Of course, Fitzgerald can come up with catches no matter what coverage is put on him. With a greater degree of talent around him, however, it’s no longer necessary to force feed Fitzgerald and take a 50-50 shot on whether he will make an epic catch or the ball will be intercepted. He draws off defenses which opens up lanes for other players, a role that can be just as valuable, though admittedly less fun, than being the go-to guy.
I don’t blame Larry Fitzgerald at all for the unusually quiet game he had. It’s just a new system now, one that doesn’t demand so much of him. Monday night was an extreme example of that, and Fitzgerald will likely have better games going forward.