For a second straight year, Larry Fitzgerald’s biggest game of the season — around the midway point on the schedule — has preceded games in which he just hasn’t been able to make a big impact. But the Cardinals are winning. Is there concern about Fitz? Not with ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski, who said on his weekly appearance during the “Burns and Gambo show” on Arizona Sports 620 that Fitz is just fine even without the gaudy stats.
“I’m not worried about Larry,” Jaworski said. “I look at his tape and I see Larry getting open, I still see him getting the shaded coverage. Teams still give him incredible respect for what he can do. It’s only going to be a matter of time until he will get that 10- or 12-catch game for a buck-fifty, 200 yards. It’s going to happen. Larry is still one of the elite players in the league.”
Last year, Fitz had a good game in Green Bay and then the stats fell off. This year, Fitz broke out with his six-catch-117-yard game in San Francisco, but since, he has been pretty quiet (although he did get a touchdown catch against the Falcons). Fitzgerald is on pace for 69 receptions for 876 yards — totals that would surpass last year, but obviously well short of what anyone expected. (I know I thought Fitz was going to have a big year.) It’s gotten to the point where, when Fitz holds his weekly media group, the questions about him personally getting the ball don’t even come up much anymore.
I’ve been asked a lot if Larry is frustrated. I haven’t had that conversation with him, but knowing him as I do, of course he is. Part of what drives him is his own legacy, and while that includes winning, it also includes stats that he’s had trouble collecting the last season-and-a-half. But I also know Fitz isn’t going to pop off about it, especially when the team is notching wins.
No one can really say (or no one is willing to say) why the Palmer-to-Fitz connection hasn’t clicked more. Fitz has been targeted 70 times, which isn’t a ton for a top receiver, but it shows how many misfires the two have had. At one point a few weeks ago, six of Palmer’s interceptions came on throws to Fitz, so maybe he was trying too hard to make it happen. I’m not sure Fitzgerald has down pat all those different positions he must play in Bruce Arians’ system. The pass protection hasn’t been great (although Jaworski emphasized the line played its best game against J.J. Watt and Houston.) And of course, Fitz’s bad hamstrings have played a role.
In the meantime, we’ll wait for Jaworski’s prediction of Fitzgerald and a breakout. We know Fitz can help blocking too. Right Richard Sherman?
Tags: Larry Fitzgerald, Ron Jaworski
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