Fitz in Miami, and Friday before the Dolphins

Posted by Darren Urban on December 9, 2016 – 3:01 pm

It’s been a big week for Larry Fitzgerald. Becomes the player with the third-most catches in NFL history, is chosen as the Cardinals’ Walter Payton Man of the Year (and will it surprise anyone if Fitz is one of the three finalists?) and now, gets to go back to where he first had a game-winning touchdown.

You remember, right? Denny Green’s first year, Fitz’s rookie year, and the last time the Cardinals actually played in Miami. It was 2004, and Fitz’s 48-yard bomb with about a minute left set up his two-yard touchdown catch with 23 seconds left. It snapped a 17-game road losing streak for the Cards (those were the days …) and got Fitzgerald to the postgame interview podium for the first time.

He didn’t like it. It was a short and, if I recall correctly, much too awkward of an interview for a guy who just scored the game-winning points. But life is much different these days for Fitz. That was the day, coming off a personal shutout in the rain in Buffalo, that Fitz started his still-active streak of 191 straight games with a catch.

“That’s a long time ago,” Fitzgerald said.

Indeed it was.

Are these two Miami trips going to essentially bookend Fitz’s career? He was asked this week about catching Tony Gonzalez and/or Jerry Rice on that receptions list. Gonzalez is about 200 receptions in front of Fitzgerald.

“I won’t catch either of those guys,” Fitzgerald said, adding, “I don’t plan on playing long enough to catch both those guys.”

What does that mean? It would seem to put a damper on the idea Fitz will play past 2017, since the rest of this season plus next season plus, say, 2018, would seem to put him in Gonzalez range. So at this point – although Fitzgerald was quick to say he wasn’t making any kind of retirement announcement – Fitz’s time seems to be short. He’s obviously a lot closer to the end than the beginning. Trips to Miami mark the time.

— The Cardinals may adjust their offensive line again, with the possibility of Earl Watford returning to the lineup at right guard for John Wetzel. Watford got hurt at the end of the Minnesota game, and while he was healthy enough to play the last couple games, Wetzel instead got the call. Goodwin called Watford’s year “up and down.”

“It’s probably not where he wants it, not where I want it to be,” offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said. “I have high expectations of him, as a player and a person.”

Arians said Watford is healthy again, and simply, he has more experience than Wetzel. That’s a big deal going up against what can be a nasty Dolphins defensive line,

— With rookie defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche hurting his elbow in practice and missing parts of practice all week, I don’t think anyone has to wonder if this is the week he makes it back to the Sunday active list.

— Guys like Calais Campbell and Patrick Peterson are going back to Miami to play for the first time and are excited. John Brown is also headed home for the first time, although it’s a much different vibe. Although Goodwin said Brown played well last week in his limited snaps – Arians had noted Smoke was open deep a couple of times, although the Cards couldn’t get him the ball – he didn’t have a catch and has just 31 receptions this season.

“Just going through it is kind of frustrating,” Brown said. “But everyone in here has my back. The coaches have my back. I’ll get through it. It’s just a small bump in the road.”

Brown did say he hasn’t played in front of his family since high school, so he is looking forward to doing so.

— Fitz, on whether rest days have helped the arm of Carson Palmer. “His arm has always looked good,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s 36 years old, you know he’s capable of doing everything. You don’t need to see it every day.”

— Arians was asked about the comparison to Tyrann Mathieu — who won’t play Sunday because of his bad shoulder — and former Colts safety Bob Sanders, who had an excellent career cut short because of injuries. Sanders was also undersized.

“Totally different players,” Arians said. “Bob was a box guy who would just knock your socks off all the time, but his body couldn’t take his bravado. Ty plays the game a different way. It’s just been bad luck.”

— After failing to score on the opening possession all season, the Cardinals have scored a touchdown on the opening drive each of the last two games. Palmer said the Cards have put a focus on it. I asked what does that exactly mean, since you figure they are working on all the plays equally.

“I wish there was one reason or five reasons,” Palmer said. “There are a ton of reasons why that happens. It’s not like all of a sudden Coach put together a really good opening drive. It is not like all of a sudden we didn’t make a mistake on the opening drive. I think if you looked at that and compared it to all the other opening drives, there are probably less mistakes, but there is no rhyme or reason or perfect formula, obviously, or else everybody would be doing it.”

— With no roster moves as of yet, it seems unlikely the Cardinals will make a move with practice squad punter Matt Wile this week. So I expect Drew Butler to have his regular duties against the Dolphins.

— The Cardinals win this weekend, and the last month of this season can be very, very interesting. A loss, and you’re talking about 2017.


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12 Responses to “Fitz in Miami, and Friday before the Dolphins”

  1. By JTDG on Dec 9, 2016 | Reply

    “I won’t catch either of those guys,” Fitzgerald said, adding, “I don’t plan on playing long enough to catch both those guys.”

    Wow !!! That is a huge statement.

    That means either this year or 2017 Fitz walks. I have been worried about this all year.

    Lots of changes coming. Should have been “All In” this year.

  2. By rod on Dec 9, 2016 | Reply

    Do chickens have large talons?

  3. By Scott H on Dec 9, 2016 | Reply

    Well, at least since we know Drew Butler will have his normal duties on Sunday ( as ridiculous as that seems ), we know where we stand and we know to prepare for a 30-yard net average on punts, more or less. Probably less, more often. See what I’m saying?

    A thought for next year – as our primary free agent target for next year, can we get the Chiefs’ special team’s coach? And can he bring that Tyreek Hill kid with him???

  4. By scottnapa on Dec 9, 2016 | Reply

    That is a great old school uniform fitz is showcasing.

  5. By dynosoar on Dec 9, 2016 | Reply

    Here’s to an interesting December and waiting a few more months before talking about 2017.

  6. By Eazy E on Dec 10, 2016 | Reply

    R.I.P. Denny Green. Still can’t believe he’s gone!!!

  7. By Adam Smith b1723 fka DTL on Dec 10, 2016 | Reply

    Fitz is a Horse, ride him. David Johnson is a Pony, let him run.

    Jaworski had interesting stats from last week. C. Palmer completed 26% of passes last week within 4 yards of line of scrimmage. The quick pass game plan important bc of weak line. Also John Brown open twice on bombs but not enough time.

    Biggest take? Jaws still has Cards in playoffs, running table. So, we’ll see…

    C. Palmer made decison to go to JJ Nelson on the bomb, BA said play was intended for Fitz for 20 yards over middle. But b4 play ran, C. Palmer asked JJ if he was ready for it. So, Palmer went for the dagger, even as BA was calling for the Horse, a(fter the 4th and 1, 14 yard run by the Pony).

    What do you think Fitz and DJ “Horse and Pony”? lol, I know thumbs down, but I like it!
    Go Cards.

  8. By TucsonTim on Dec 10, 2016 | Reply

    In business school they teach people about different types of bias that affect decision making. One is Outcome Bias

    Outcome bias focuses exclusively on weighting the past outcome heavier than other pieces of information in deciding if a past decision was correct.

    one will often judge a past decision by its ultimate outcome instead of based on the quality of the decision at the time it was made, given what was known at that time. This is an error…

    let’s hope that BA doesn’t fall victim to Outcome Bias again and start chucking the ball deep on low percentage passes. Yes it is very exciting, but so is watching your number come up at the roulette table. That doesn’t make it smart.

    Some not very smart decisions at the end of the Washington game put 57+ minutes of solid football at risk. They worked out, but they weren’t smart.

    We beat Washington despite poor special teams play again, with good defense and a smart running/passing attack that utilized even the TIGHT END!!! AMAZING

  9. By shannon robinson on Dec 10, 2016 | Reply

    Thanks for the picture of Catch#1 or TD#1 – he looks remarkably similar in build with man strength added. The Cardinals were one of the few teams where the highest paid athlete was our wide receiver. Some guys are just best under pressure. Here’s my Christmas List for Miami: I’d like this O-line to come through for David and get him room to run for another 85 yards. They also have to keep Suh off of Carson.This is a great opportunity for our Defense to go out East and stifle Ajayi and reap some rewards for being big dogs up front. Go ahead Bruce, you have my permission to let it fly. Scare me to death and just for the thrill of it go win this one too.

  10. By Scott H on Dec 10, 2016 | Reply

    I’ve kinda been in 2017 mode for a few weeks now, so….I got there after the consecutive losses to Miinny and Atlanta. I love when they show that “Playoff Picture” graphic during games at this point in the season….where you’ve got the 3 columns….the division leaders, the wild-cards ( for the moment ), and that ever-popular in-the-hunt category. And the Cardinals were buried about halfway down on that list. Yeah, great feeling that was. And I think the ONLY NFC teams that weren’t even on the list were the Bears and the 49ers. Which means, you have have to be as bad as the Bears or the 49ers to be out of it at this point. Anything shy of that, you’re “in the hunt.”

    But c’mon – when you’re the 10th seed in the NFC with a month to go, are you REALLY in the hunt? Or are you just merely mathematically alive? It feels like that to me. I’ll be thrilled if a win this week makes things very interesting going forward, but…..I had my sights set a little higher than that in September.

    As always, I’m not interested in seeing teams make the playoffs when they are not really playoff teams. And that includes my own team. Last week – Week 12 – was the first time all season they actually resembled SOMETHING you could call a playoff-caliber team. The only way they keep that is to win out. The only way they probably have a mathematical chance to be a playoff team is to win out.

    I don’t know if I see it. It’s do-able if they play like the team they were supposed to be this year. But if that happens, it will be the first time we’ve seen that all year.

    And starting that run with a 10:00 AM game on the east coast isn’t ideal.

  11. By Scott H on Dec 10, 2016 | Reply

    Not related, but I see where the the number of games in London is going to be increased going forward. Great….for the NFL. That is so ridiculous. I have not talked to a single football fan I know in recent years who likes these games. NOT ONE. Most fans, it seems, are truly opposed to these games. And I’m pretty sure the NFL is aware of that. But does that matter, what the fans want? No, it clearly does not. It ONLY matters how much more money the owners can make by doing this.

    The Thursday Night games have become just as much of a joke. It is a LOUSY product, made even worse by these color-rush uniforms that look like they could cause seizures. They have become openly recognized as a lousy product. And how could that be a surprise? You’ve got two teams playing entirely too soon after their last game. They have NO TIME to adequately rest OR prepare. And the team that has to travel has even less of both. The games are lousy. And everyone is seeing it. But does the NFL care? Nope. It’s another day of the week that belongs to them and that is all that matters. Oh, and the money it brings in, of course.

    The NFL has become an abomination at this point. And they’ve got the perfect face for the evil empire they’ve become.

    I will always love football. But I have honestly come to hate the NFL.

  12. By clssylssy on Dec 12, 2016 | Reply

    Actually, I think some of the Thursday night games of late, have been pretty good…Chiefs and Raiders? WOW, not too shabby…Boys and Vikes, not bad at all… and, certainly better than anything on Thursday night TV, except for reruns of the X-Files. Given that most of this years season was dedicated to forced propoganda by the media, even watching bad football would be an improvement.
    But, I totally agree with the “International Series” being bad for us US fans. So far the Cards have escaped “Roger’s folly” because we had successful seasons…I fear that we are now going to have one of our home games given to the Brits or even China! I know by brother was steamed when that happened with the Chiefs but, look at them now. Maybe that’s the kind of “incentive” we’ve not experienced, and, who knows…it could work since we’ve not been able to do much in the front office.
    i just wonder if we’ll be a candidate for “Hard Knocks” after our “Nothing” season that followed the “All or” last year?
    But, I agree with you about the NFL, and totally am beginning to wonder if it is scripted like the WWF? I’ve seen tougher players at the high school and college level and without all the flags and commercials!

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