Larry Fitzgerald knows what he is doing in front of the cameras. He’s made it an art form, and he’s very honest in admitted he’s not going to deliver bulletin board material. Then, again, he’s also really good at good-naturedly jabbing friends of his. So it went Thursday, when he was asked about Michael Floyd, and if he could see comparisons between Floyd and physical former teammate Anquan Boldin.
“I don’t like to compare my teammates,” Fitzgerald said. “Anquan is Anquan. Mike is Mike. Let’s put it like that. They both are really good players. I had a lot of quality time with Q earlier in my career and now later in my career with Mike.
“I see a lot of similarities in terms of the toughness and the meanness out of both those guys,” Fitzgerald added, and then you could see he really understood what he was saying. “They are both really mean dudes,” Fitz said with smile.
As opposed to your “niceness,” Fitz was asked?
“I’m a lot nicer than both of those guys,” Fitzgerald said to a chorus of laughs. “You’d like to have me at your Thanksgiving table much more than you would those two.”
Tags: Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd
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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Larry Fitzgerald, NFL
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— MarkDalton (@CardsMarkD) December 3, 2013
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Larry Fitzgerald, NFL, Rams, St Louis Rams
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As far back as the summer, Bruce Arians was speculating that Michael Floyd could become a breakout wide receiver this season. The last two weeks seem to underscore Floyd’s coming-out year. He had the 193 yards in Jacksonville, including his memorable 91-yard score, but his game against the Colts seemed to put all of Floyd’s abilities on display in one tidy little package.
Floyd was targeted seven times by quarterback Carson Palmer. He made seven catches (for 104 yards). Here’s how it broke down:
– First quarter. Second-and-6, IND 48. Floyd runs a crossing pattern about four yards downfield and then, in stride, makes the catch and easily adds another five yards for the first down.
– Second quarter. Second-and-6, AZ 45: Floyd runs deep down the right sideline and makes a nice one-on-one jump-ball catch for 29 yards.
– Second quarter. Second-and-6, IND 36: Palmer is flushed from the pocket rolling right. He has to launch a pass to the right sideline almost all arm, but Floyd has smartly broken off his route and come back to the ball, snaring it for an 11-yard gain. Yet another first down. (Are you sensing a pattern?)
– Second quarter. Second-and-10, AZ 33: Floyd makes the grab a yard or so short of the first-down marker. But he powers through the attempted tackle of Colts cornerback Cassius Vaughn for what ends up as a 13-yard gain.
– Third quarter. Third-and-14, 50: Floyd knows right where the first-down marker is on the right sideline. Then he leaps to snare a high pass (pictured below) for a 14-yard gain. Analyst Dan Fouts, a former QB, talks about how nice it is to have tall receivers so the quarterback can throw it high and the wideout can just go up and get it away from the defender. At 6-foot-3, Floyd certainly qualifies.
– Third quarter. Second-and-8, IND 34: A simple slant pattern on the move, gains about five yards after the catch on a nine-yard completion.
– Third quarter. Second-and-12, AZ 27: The “easiest” play of the day. A skinny post to gain 19 yards and Floyd slips at the end, meaning he doesn’t even get hit on the play. A beautiful choice/throw by Palmer, and a solid route run.
Floyd earns a first down on each of his seven catches. On the day, he shows his ability to run precise routes, to break a tackle for extra yards, to run after catch, and to be able to go up and get a pass. He shows his sure hands. And if he keeps producing (Floyd is now on pace to have 71 receptions for 1,107 yards) teams are going to have to start paying more attention to him — and that in theory should take some of the attention away from Larry Fitzgerald, freeing him up more often.
Said Arians, “(Michael) is the big-time player I hoped he’d become.”
Tags: Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd
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Sometimes, practice doesn’t make perfect. Sometimes, it’s only game-action that truly can forge what a player can do. That’s often tackling, because you can’t practice it live against your own teammates. And for similar reasons, it’s the same for the jump balls a quarterback throws to a receiver.
From the lofted fade pattern to Larry Fitzgerald for a touchdown to the 29-yard bomb to Michael Floyd early in the second quarter, Carson Palmer tossed it up and counted on his receivers to bring it down.
(Poor Vontae Davis, who was the cornerback victimized on both plays. Obviously, the Cards sensed a weakness.)
Those jump balls weren’t being caught early in the year, for a variety of reasons. Who can forget the interception early in the year on the long jump-ball pass to Floyd, the one Bruce Arians said he thought Floyd should have broken up? Or even a lack of jump balls thrown to Fitz, which might’ve just been a case of Fitz’s hamstrings and being physically limited. But if the Cards can try more of those down the stretch to Fitz and Floyd, the chunk plays and the scoring plays should keep coming.
Especially now that Palmer has a trust good things will happen. He couldn’t have known that this summer, or even really in training camp.
“With those kinds of things, you don’t gain trust and know the plays the guy can make or can’t make until you’re playing games with guys,” Palmer said. “In practice, nobody is going up for 50-50 balls, risking an ankle injury or coming down on a shoulder, so you have to see it in games.
“I’m starting to realize the types of plays that those guys have the ability to make and the types of plays they don’t. I’m getting a feel for where I can put certain balls. It’s just something that when you see it on the film and when you see it on the field, you can’t practice that. You can’t see it in practice and all of a sudden go, ‘OK, I know exactly how he’s going to react to this.’ You’ve got to see it on game day. Mike (Floyd) has done a great job making those plays recently.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd
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Bruce Arians stuck with them. That’s what popped to mind Sunday. There were many calls to dump Rashard Mendenhall to the bench and Carson Palmer too. The Cardinals’ coach didn’t. Sunday that paid off.
This isn’t to reignite the Mendenhall-Ellington debate. I still think Ellington is the better back (and oh my he showed some of his shifty goodness against the Colts, especially with that 17-yard run along the sideline) but Mendenhall had a burst against Indy we hadn’t seen. And if he can play like that, he’s worth having on the field and worth being the yin to Ellington’s yang. As for Palmer, the cacophony surrounding him when he was throwing way too many interceptions was hard to ignore. Arians stood by him. Now? Palmer looks like a QB of a playoff team.
“The biggest difference really is trust,” Palmer said, before admitting, “It took a little longer than you’d like.”
There are many things going well for the Cardinals right now. But offensively, they are clicking, and those two vets are in the middle of it.
– It does feel like sometimes, the defense gets a short shrift. They just do what they do, they control the game, and the Cards are winning (or at least have a chance to win). Palmer said it best: “Identity-wise, we’re a defensive football team,” the quarterback said.
– After all the talk all week of Arians and his Colts memories, that was more or less put aside Sunday. Lots of pre-game hugs (and a few postgame) but basically it’s been the B.A. the Cards have known all year. “It’s crazy, he’s been even keel all week,” defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said.
– If there was a question about which better second-half unit would win the second half – the Colts’ offense or the Cardinals’ defense – it came out on the Cardinals’ favor. Arizona took the second half, 13-8, and honestly, I’m not sure how safety Yeremiah Bell didn’t get a hand on the lone touchdown pass to tight end Coby Fleener.
– Then again, if you would have said Luck would give up as many touchdowns throwing the ball as scoring, the Cards would have taken it.
– Good to see you hold on to one, Karlos Dansby.
– Good to see Darnell Dockett not get a sack on that play, too. “I don’t care,” Dockett said. “They say, ‘You had the sack.’ I don’t care, Karlos had the touchdown, and I’ll take the interception touchdown over a sack any day. I’m glad I didn’t hit his arm and knock the ball out.”
– Arians with his quote of the day, talking about his second half defense against the explosive Colts: “We didn’t want any bullets left in the gun. I know I’m not supposed to say bullets anymore. It’s not the politically correct thing. But here in Arizona it’s OK.”
– It was kind of amazing that the Cardinals, on their first two TD drives, did not face a third down. That’s one way to avoid the third-down conversion problem.
– Speaking of that, 7-for-14 on third downs works. And Dave Zastudil only punted twice. He had never had fewer than four in a game since joining the Cardinals in 2011.
– Palmer’s touchdown of 26 yards to Larry Fitzgerald was a thing of beauty. Palmer hung in the pocket a long time and absorbed a crushing hit by linebacker Kelvin Sheppard while delivering the perfect pass – with Fitz being chased by two defenders.
– According to media relations VP Mark Dalton, that makes the Cards 13-3 overall wearing the red-red uniforms and seven in a row. And here I am feeding into the frenzy. I disappoint myself.
– Fitz looked like Fitz on those touchdown catches. He now has eight this season, double his 2012 total. His other numbers don’t match up to what he’d like, but heck. All he does is catch touchdowns. The Cards could live with that.
Tags: Carson Palmer, Colts, Darnell Dockett, Dave Zastudil, Karlos Dansby, Larry Fitzgerald, Mark Dalton, Rashard Mendenhall, uniforms, Yeremiah Bell
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I know many, many people have asked for it, and now you shall have it: The Cardinals will be wearing their red-on-red uniform look for Sunday’s game against the Colts at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals haven’t worn red-on-red since the season finale against the Seahawks in 2011.
– For those who might have missed it, I wrote a short story this morning about offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin and the little girl who taught him an important lesson during the journey he went through the past year-plus. And, of course, there is the story of the meaning of this game for Bruce Arians and his Colts coaching transplants.
– Larry Fitzgerald was asked if he followed the magical season of the Colts a year ago, even if it was from afar. “No,” Fitzgerald said. “We had enough turmoil here last year. When I went home I didn’t watch any football.” He did realize Arians had won NFL coach of the year though — because “I was at the awards ceremony.”
Tags: Harold Goodwin, Larry Fitzgerald, uniforms
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It’s strange, and maybe because it’s because the Cardinals face the Jaguars so rarely, but each of the last three meetings between the teams – dating back to 2000, my first full year covering this team – is burned into my brain for a particular reason.
2000 – The Cardinals were manhandled in Jacksonville. The Jaguars scored on eight of 10 possessions and the final possession ate up the last 9-plus minutes of the clock (as the Jags traveled all of 31 yards. Hard to believe). Afterward, though, it was classic Pat Tillman, raging against a team that had folded in a season that featured the firing of Vince Tobin.
“In this league, you have to overcome injuries, problems, coaches getting fired,” Tillman spouted. “Nobody cares (about excuses). Don’t tell me about the pain, show me the baby. We’re not showing the baby right now, we’re just bitching about the pain.”
2005 – It was a nondescript game at Sun Devil Stadium later in the year – a seven-point loss when Kurt Warner was sacked and fumbled late – except for an angry Anquan Boldin, who had 10 catches and more than 100 yards but got so ticked at what he perceived as dirty play that he got two personal foul calls fighting cornerback Terry Cousin. That wasn’t the memorable part. The memorable part was Boldin writing a letter to the editor of both local newspapers apologizing for the penalties.
2009 – The NFC champion Cards were coming off a home upset loss to the Niners when they had to travel cross country in Week 2. The Cards blasted the Jaguars, in a game marked by Warner’s amazing NFL record, completing 92.3 percent of his passes (24 of 26) to earn another slot in the Hall of Fame.
We’ll see if this game ends up providing some kind of memory.
– Don’t talk trap game with the Cardinals. “No, no, no,” Larry Fitzgerald said. “This is a playoff game. There is no such thing as a trap game in the NFL.” As you might expect, the Cardinals were handing out plenty of compliments to the Jaguars this week. The hope is that they play with that focus.
– Then again, there is this analysis of the Jaguars.
– It’s not often when the “Friday before” post is actually posted from the flight out, but it is today (and will be again in a couple weeks, when the Cards go out on Friday before the Philly game.) Coach Bruce Arians, coaching out West for the first time in his career, said he talked to many people in the offseason about setting a schedule. The Cards don’t get in to the hotel until about 10 p.m., but Arians said he didn’t want to move up the schedule.
“We’ve been down this road with Tampa,” Arians said. “There are no excuses not to come out and play well.”
– How red-hot is Justin Bethel on special teams? Profootballfocus.com, which grades special teamers (among others), has never had a guy grade out the highest in two weeks of the same season, and Bethel has done it three times – including against Houston last week, in which Bethel had PFF’s highest special teams grade ever.
– The Jaguars, which won their first game of the season last week, hasn’t won back-to-back games since 2010.
– Going against the worst rushing defense in the league – in part there, I am sure, because so many teams have blown the Jags out and have run a lot to grind second-half clock – the Cards should run the ball effectively. They need to run it effectively.
– John Abraham seemed confident he wouldn’t be hampered much by his bad hamstring. He’s playing so well, the Cards have to hope he isn’t.
– There isn’t much to analyze about this game. The Cards have put themselves in good position to be 6-4. Now they just have to play like it.
Tags: Anquan Boldin, Bruce Arians, Jaguars, John Abraham, Justin Bethel, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Pat Tillman
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