Larry Fitzgerald is one of the most talented receivers in the NFL today, but his talent has been superseded as of late, by the lack of consistent quarterback play in Arizona. In fact, last season, he had the lowest production in almost every category since his rookie campaign. Fitzgerald had a forgettable season, with only 71 receptions for a mere 798 yards and just four touchdowns. This appears to be rock bottom, after what has been a three year decline in performance. But the lack of production doesn’t necessarily reflect on Fitzgerald’s performance, rather it is a testament to the carrousel of below average quarterbacks that have made their way through the Cardinals’ organization.
From 2007-2009, Fitzgerald played like a true superstar. In each of those three seasons he had about 100 receptions, over 1000 yards receiving and double digit touchdowns each year. During those three years, he had an established veteran quarterback throwing him the ball, in Kurt Warner. Since 2009, he had played with six different quarterbacks, none of whom were successful, but the carousel has finally stopped turning.
The Cardinals, under new coach Bruce Arians went out and traded for veteran quarterback Carson Palmer, from the Oakland Raiders. This acquisition should be beneficial to the team, which has been struggling as of late, but the most intriguing part of it is the potential for Palmer and Fitzgerald to put up some big numbers.
Palmer is a solid quarterback year after year and when he had a talented receiving threat in Chad Johnson, he was considered one of the better quarterbacks in the league and he and Johnson were an excellent duo. He will look to develop the same chemistry with Fitzgerald and hopefully take them both back to the Pro Bowl.
The one thing that may still hold back Fitzgerald this year is the lack of receiving threats around him. The 12 other receivers on the roster for Arizona this year have a combined 14 years of experience, while Fitzgerald has already played 10 years. So if none of these young guys are able to step up and perform at a high level, Fitzgerald will be seeing double-coverage all year long.
Despite that, it is not too difficult to imagine the Warner-Fitzgerald production being repeated with Palmer behind center this year. Palmer has a big arm and is able to throw the deep ball very accurately and Fitzgerald, although not as quick as he once was, is still one of the best in the league at adjusting to the ball, while in the air and making very difficult catches. Expect a big year from Fitzgerald.