No INTs targeting Fitz shows growth

Posted by Darren Urban on July 13, 2015 – 9:49 am

The tweet — once again from the data divers at — made it simple: In the 100 targets they counted for Larry Fitzgerald in 2014, the Cardinals did not throw one interception. Not from Carson Palmer, or Drew Stanton, or Ryan Lindley or Logan Thomas. That, PFF said, meant Fitz was the safest receiver to throw to in the NFL last season.

(Yes, I know Lindley’s backbreaking playoff red-zone interception in Carolina was supposed to go to Fitz, but all stats usually are regular season only unless noted.)

In itself, an interesting stat. But it got me thinking. In 2013, the Cardinals definitely threw an interception or two throwing to Fitzgerald — or Palmer did, since he took every 2013 snap. It was a big deal at the time, with Bruce Arians trying to teach a) his offense to a new QB and new wide receivers and b) a new position to Fitzgerald. More than once it was mentioned that Palmer was trying too hard to force the ball to Fitzgerald, something Palmer acknowledged he learned from once 2014 came around.

So I asked PFF what the Fitzgerald INT number was for 2013. It turns out Palmer had a whopping seven interceptions when targeting Fitzgerald in 2013. Now, there is no breakdown with that. It’s impossible to know who might have been at fault, whether the defender made a great play or if the pass rush caused a problem. But it does show the evolution of Arians’ offense and how much more comfortable Palmer and Fitz were within it. We have touched on the subject of the improvement of Palmer working with Fitz before. The numbers seem to back it up.


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24 Responses to “No INTs targeting Fitz shows growth”

  1. By Eric G on Jul 13, 2015 | Reply

    18 days to Vets reporting to Camp! Can’t wait to see what this team does this year!!!

  2. By LadyBird04 on Jul 13, 2015 | Reply

    Also note, Fitz was bothered by a hamstring issue much of the 2013 Season which probably affected the interception rate during the season.

  3. By Travis on Jul 13, 2015 | Reply


  4. By BIGAL on Jul 13, 2015 | Reply

    OK, now add in to that, one Jared Valdheer…it all goes into the result!

  5. By clssylssy on Jul 13, 2015 | Reply

    I believe they only count what are deemed “catchable” throws…whatever that means. At any rate, one would wonder, if Fitz is the safest receiver to throw to in the entire NFL (has the fewest drops or misses), why then aren’t his skills being used more effectively? When you talk about “the evolution of Arian’s offense”, you make it sound like he’s reinventing the wheel and with the constant churning of the roster, injuries, etc., will we ever see a finished product? Fitz’s contract is only for two years so lets hope Carson can stay healthy for a complete season as it’s becoming crunch time for a number of our players!

  6. By Crow on Jul 13, 2015 | Reply

    Arians offense is a safe offense for Fitz….he may not be putting up the same numbers he used to but this offense dosn’t sacrifice his body there for keeping him on the field longer as a player (hoping for the possibility of him coming back one day as a coach) haha can’t wait for this season lets go birdgang

  7. By Scott H on Jul 13, 2015 | Reply

    Um….is it just me or is anyone else asking themselves this question – if Palmer was throwing too many INT’s when trying to “force” the ball to Fitz in 2013, then what changed in 2014??? Did it suddenly become a good idea to throw to Fitz less often, or did Palmer perhaps start making better decisions AND better throws?

    Did it suddenly become a good idea to throw less to a dominant WR? A future Hall of Famer? The fastest WR to 900 catches in NFL history?

    Funny…..when Warner was here, Todd Haley suggested to him that he go to Fitz even if it seemed like Fitz was covered. Don’t seem to remember THAT leading to a whole lot of INT’s.

    Sorry, folks, but this bothers me. Fitz has been THE go-to guy for this team for a decade and his numbers would support the fact that that was a pretty good way to go. Then, Palmer comes here and suddenly, it’s a bad idea to “force” the ball to Fitz because it will lead to INT’s. Really?

    Look, I love Carson Palmer and I am glad he is here and I’ve made that clear. But I really don’t think that Palmer suddenly turned it around because he started throwing less to Larry Fitzgerald. I think he turned it around when he started making better decisions and being a better QB.

    And with that accomplished, perhaps we can go BACK to Fitz a little more often in 2015. I repeat – a LITTLE more often. As far as I am concerned, that does not have to mean we are “forcing” the ball to him. If Fitz is healthy, there is no reason he shouldn’t be in the 8-10 TD range. If that isn’t happening, he is NOT getting the chances he needs to be as productive as he should be.

  8. By Darren Urban on Jul 13, 2015 | Reply

    Scott H –

    RE: Change

    And you know whose fault it was because …?

  9. By Dr. G. on Jul 13, 2015 | Reply

    I have observed most of these INTs carefully, and have always concluded that that the “pass rush” or slightly errant throws from Palmer explain most of it.

    If a pass is even close in proximity, Fitz will either come down with the ball or play defense to prevent an INT. He is a bully when it comes to the ball in the air….

  10. By CreditCard on Jul 13, 2015 | Reply

    effective and power running game = even less interceptions

  11. By Dynosoar on Jul 14, 2015 | Reply

    Perhaps it may be a difference between Warner and Palmer (and any other QB).

    Kurt Warner honed his skills in the arena league where throwing in SUPER TIGHT Windows was the norm. Most QBs don’t have that experience, so where one QB is throwing a forced throw, Warner was throwing what he’d been trained to do.

    I am not, I repeat not comparing the two and saying one is better than the other, just pointing out they each had their skillsets and just because Warner was coached to do one thing, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for Palmer, who has a different skillset to do the same.

    I do believe if Palmer had not been injured, we would have seen Fitzgerald targeted more last season, they were finally on the same page. It looked like Palmer was finally getting on the same page with all our receivers, except Floyd. And I have to believe they would’ve finally clicked as well.

    I’m very excited for this season and an explosive arial game, supported by an effective ground game.

  12. By Scott H on Jul 14, 2015 | Reply

    Darren –

    I’m not claiming to “know” anything. I’m expressing some opinions about the issue of Palmer throwing more INT’s when he was supposedly forcing the ball to Fitz during 2013.

    I think Palmer is a very good QB. I think he is a better QB than many others do based on where I see him ranked by many among current starting QB’s in the NFL. Most don’t even put him in the top 20, which I think is ridiculous. But I think he has also been prone to throwing INT’s during his career. I believe I saw that among current NFL QB’s, he has the 2nd highest number of INT’s.

    If that is true, then this didn’t just become a problem when he started forcing the ball to Fitz. But it seems like THIS gets pointed out as what the problem was and what made the problem better. And I’m saying I THINK there is more to it than that.

    And I THINK that Fitz was under-utilized in this offense last season, regardless of who was playing QB.

    If you look at my post, I’m not claiming to know anything. I presented some opinions and asked some questions.

  13. By Walton P Scott on Jul 14, 2015 | Reply

    Time for these lazy bums to get back on the field and start earning these fat checks. You too Urban vacation’s over.

  14. By Scott H on Jul 14, 2015 | Reply

    Darren –

    Just to continue the dialogue…you make reference to Palmer throwing a “whopping” 7 INT’s in 2013 when targeting Fitzgerald. OK. To me, the use of the word “whopping” might make more sense here if Palmer threw 14-15 INT’s ( total ) that season and half of them occured when he targeted Fitz. But that isn’t the case. Palmer threw a “whopping” 22 INT’s in 2013, almost equaling his TD total of 24.

    So, of the 22 INT’s he had in 2013, 15 of those ( more than two thirds ) occured when he was NOT targeting Fitz. OK….but I only hear people making references to the INT’s he threw when Fitz was being targeted. Don’t the other ones matter?

    For what it’s worth, in 2013, Fitz also had the highest TD total he’s had since 2009. So, some GOOD also came from the extent to which Fitz was being targeted. As 2013 progressed, Palmer’s INT’s decreased greatly over the second half of the season while Fitz remained productive. THAT tells ms that you can continue to target your best WR AND limit the INT’s. I think it was on Palmer to do a better job. And he did. And I’m glad.

    Not that you have the time ( so I’m not asking 🙂 ) but wouldn’t it be interesting to look at how this has played out with Fitz over his career? In other words, how did the many other QB’s who have thrown to Fitz over his career fare in regard to number of INT’s they threw when trying to get the ball to Fitz? Since we are having the discussion we are, it would be interesting to see if Palmer’s stats are in line with those of other QB’s or if they deviate significantly one way or the other.

    You got an intern you can put on this? 🙂

    Also, Palmer HAS been prone to INT’s during his career, has a TD-to-INT ratio of 224 to 155. He’s had 3 seasons where INT’s actually out-numbered his TD’s. And he has had only 3 seasons where his INT total was less than half of his total TD’s.

  15. By Darren Urban on Jul 14, 2015 | Reply

    Scott H —

    RE: INTs

    I am not arguing how much Fitz should be targeted nor that the INTs are bad one way or the other.

    What I am noting is that you seem to say that when Palmer was picked throwing to Fitz, it was because of a Palmer error. I am saying that may not have been the case. Perhaps I misread your thoughts.

  16. By rod on Jul 14, 2015 | Reply

    Does this site have the ability to show us who gives thumbs up or down Darren?

    If so enable it please says me.

  17. By Darren Urban on Jul 15, 2015 | Reply

    Rod —

    RE: Thumbs

    Not that I know of. I only put the “thumbs” in because people asked for it. I can take it away if everyone wants.

  18. By Crow on Jul 14, 2015 | Reply

    I met a guy in a gym today who goes to africa with Fitz a couple times to dig wells…….. what a guy both him and fitz.. fitz is a class act

  19. By Eazy E on Jul 15, 2015 | Reply

    Throw the brotha the darn football!

  20. By Scott H on Jul 15, 2015 | Reply

    Darren –

    You are right, I have possibly over-looked other factors involved here. So, to clarify, I don’t see it as ONLY Palmer errors. In that regard, no, I don’t think you misread anything. My main point was that Palmer ( in 2013 ) was not only throwing INT’s when he targeted Fitz, and Palmer HAS been prone to INT’s during his career. So…why such an “Iissue” ( for lack of a better word, I’m not saying YOU were making it an issue ) over the ones he threw when Fitz was being targeted. To the extent that Palmer has been INT-prone during his career, I was finding fault with him there.

    As always, it was an enjoyable dialogue. If nothing else, it was interesting to look at Palmer’s career stats.

    Also, to check another claim I made, I verified that since Eli Manning entered the league in 2004, he is the only current NFL QB to have more INT’s than Palmer. And I think Palmer is safe from being able to claim the top spot because Eli has him by 30 INT’s at this point. With more to come, I’m sure! (for Eli, that is )

    Moving on.

  21. By rod on Jul 15, 2015 | Reply

    No, we like it, I was just curious who the person was that gave a thumbs down to the first comment.

  22. By BigBobDiesel on Jul 15, 2015 | Reply

    Carson interceptions

    I don’t think you are taking BA’s offense into consideration. So you could look up all those different quarterbacks but the scheme is going to be different and if it is a backup, chances are it is going to be only half of that scheme.
    Andrew luck, 18 ints in 2012 and 9 the next.
    Whiz’s offence was more of a target style scheme. (player a runs this route to pull the safety here, player b runs this route to keep the linebacker inside, player c should be open)
    BA scheme is a progressive system. (if player a isn’t open look to player b, if player b isn’t open go to player c and so on) I would imagine Fitz is player a but with that scheme you don’t throw him the ball if he isn’t open. If you force the ball to a player because of his name and for the sake of his individual stats its tougher to make it to the post season.
    Its why Whiz’s scheme got away with a less talented line and BA’s offense spends so many resources there.

  23. By Scott H on Jul 16, 2015 | Reply

    BigBob Diesel –

    RE: Whiz’ schemes vs BA’s schemes

    Interesting point. But I will always maintain that Kurt Warner – and the level he was playing at during 2007 through 2009 – was what TRULY made that offense go. No offense to Palmer but Warner’s ability to read defenses, get the ball out quick, and to deliver it with such deadly accuracy was on a whole different level.

    Todd Haley and having the due of Fitz and Boldin in their primes were also factors that cannot be over-looked.

    But, an interesting point all the same.

  24. By clssylssy on Jul 17, 2015 | Reply

    Just read a post at on the five most difficult places to play in the NFL which was interesting, but, really…can’t say I agree. I was thinking that from talking to many friends around the league, in the last few years, the Cardinal stadium had to be inching it’s way toward that list, and how cool it would be to actually go UNDEFEATED AT HOME this season and become one of the most dreaded places to play! We have a pretty daunting schedule and there are a few home games that have me a little worried (opening against the Saints to begin with) but the road to San Francisco all starts by winning one game at a time so the time is now for getting psyched into that “Don’t Take Losses” mindset. I want to see Cardinal Stadium on that list!
    On another post, BA was named one of the top 5 in-game coaches…KUDOS!
    After this year’s promotional video “Arizona’s State of Football”, I think all fans are ready to Get Loud ‘n’Proud and begin this year’s march!

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