The numbers weren’t great for the Pro Bowl receiver — 75 catches, less than 1,000 yards, four touchdowns — but then again, the quarterback situation wasn’t great either.
It was difficult for Reggie Wayne.
Wait, you thought I was talking about Larry Fitzgerald? Well, part of the story plays out as a parallel for sure. Wayne, the Colts’ veteran, had statistics (75-960-4) in 2011 that mirrored what Fitz dealt with in 2012 (71-798-4). But when Bruce Arians came in to Indianapolis as offensive coordinator before the 2012 season, one of his goals was to make Wayne the impact player he had always been. Now that Arians is head coach of the Cardinals, he has the same plans for Fitz.
“As a receiver, you can’t hand it to them, you have to throw it to them,” Arians said. “They can double-cover him, and you don’t throw it to him if he is double-covered and someone else is single-covered. You’ve got to take what is there as a quarterback, but you do have to get him the ball because he is such a tremendous talent.
“When I first met with Reggie, Reggie had been on the left side for 10 years. The first day of spring I put him over there on the right, and he looked like he had palsy. I said, ‘It’ll come. You have to retrain your body here. Wait until I put you in the slot.’ There was buy-in.”
Now, Fitzgerald is ahead of the curve there. The Cardinals have been moving him around for a while now, just to get him open. Wayne’s resurgence not coincidentally benefited from the arrival of Andrew Luck at quarterback, and as of today, it doesn’t look like a Luck-type will end up behind center for the Cardinals this season. But Arians understands the ball must end up with Fitz more often than it did last season.
Wayne, by the way, had 106 catches for 1,355 yards and five touchdowns in 2012.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne
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It’s a Friday, and I wanted to try to get back to the late afternoon, wrap-up of the week blogs that I had been doing last season. Big weekend for the Cards, especially going into the bye. There is such a huge difference between 2-1 and 1-2, knowing that with the latter it means an 0-2 record at a home field the Cards thought they could turn into a 6-2 or 7-1 massive advantage. With the Texans, Panthers, Vikings and Packers still left on the home schedule, that’d be a rough goal with a loss Sunday.
But I feel good about this one for the Cards, and I’d like to believe it’s not because I’m drinking the Kool-Aid. This is the kind of game in which these Cards tend to thrive, on national TV, at home, against a good team (and one that many are picking to win on the road). I’ll guess we’ll see Sunday night.
– Coach Ken Whisenhunt on getting hyped for “Sunday Night Football”: “It all started many years ago with the Monday Night games when there were no other games and everybody was watching and you knew everyone was watching,” Whisenhunt said. “Now, it’s Sunday night and the emphasis put on it, it’s the same thing. There is so much more coverage with the NFL than there ever has been which is great. But when you are the only game playing and it is on national TV, your juices do get flowing.
“Now, our team gets excited for 1 o’clock games on Sunday. We’re not just going through the motions. But there is a little bit different air. Everyone talks about how the speed and intensity picks up with the playoffs. Well it’s like that when you play a Sunday night game or a Monday night game.”
– The Cardinals catch a break with Colts stud safety Bob Sanders still out. The Colts’ defense is simply better when Sanders plays. I’ve noticed that over the years watching them from afar. I don’t know exactly what it is, but it just changes the complexion, beyond just what Sanders does tangibly. It’s a lot like when Adrian Wilson is missing for the Cards (see: Jets and Favre against the Cards’ D, 2008).
– This will be Kurt Warner’s 34th consecutive start for the Cards. Never thought he’d reach such heights, but with the dings he plays with, it makes his record-setting game last week even more amazing – even if he says he feels he “stole” the record because of how the game played out.
– I am much more worried about what tight end Dallas Clark will do against the Cards than Reggie Wayne. I think the Cardinals can deal with a top receiver. They don’t see good tight ends often.
– This stat has been making the rounds: If you include playoff games, the Cardinals are 17-0 under Whisenhunt when they hold an advantage in the turnover battle. When they are even, they are 3-2. When they have more turnovers than the other guys, they are 1-15. Guess we know what stat to look at to analyze the end. (That one victory when losing the turnover battle? The electrifying overtime win over the Cowboys last season, when the Cards scored twice on special teams – the ultimate equalizer. Thanks for that off-the-top-of-the-head info, Little Whiz).
– Anquan Boldin needs 61 yards receiving to move into fourth place in the franchise’s history. As of today, Boldin is 1,913 yards shy of Roy Green’s top mark of 8,497.
– This is a huge test for this defense. They have had two pretty decent games (although I don’t think they were thrilled with the fourth quarter in either outing). But last year, the D surrendered 13 and 10 points in the first two games, respectively, and that didn’t hold up. They aren’t going to shut out Peyton Manning. But they have to slow him.
That’s it. Time to go spend some time with the family. Going to take in a football game at the high school where my wife teaches, and count on the Cards being ready in that atmosphere Sunday night. I haven’t been on the field pre-game yet this season, but I think we’ll have to give that a go this week. When you go to a Super Bowl, these are the games you’re supposed to be part of the next season.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Anquan Boldin, Bob Sanders, Colts, Dallas Clark, Ken Whisenhunt, Kurt Warner, Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Sunday Night Football
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