Eric Schmoldt of sportsradiointerviews.com recently posted the transcript of an interview new St. Louis Cardinals’ head coach Bruce Arians did with 790 The Zone in Atlanta with Mayhem in the AM (click here to view). When asked about Larry Fitzgerald here is what he had to say:
“It was a down year, and it’s nice to see him on a mission right now to get back to where he was, and rightfully so. He’s a premier player and we need to have him back up over 100 catches and 10-15 touchdowns.”
It is great to hear that the Cardinals are going to focus on getting Fitzgerald back to elite status, which is where the 29-year old belongs. He is coming off a horrific season where he managed just 71 catches for 798 yards and 4 TD. However, as we enter 2013 there are actually two things working in his favor.
The first is the move to Arians as coach. While we hear a lot of this coach speak this time of year, given Arians success with Reggie Wayne in 2012 we have to give it a little more credence.
Many people thought Wayne was washed up heading into last year (in 2011 he had just 75 catches for 960 yards and 4 TD) only to see him rack up 106 receptions for 1,355 yards and 5 TD under Arians in 2012. While the quick emergence of Andrew Luck played a role (remember 2011 was also played without Peyton Manning), Arians’ system was also a major benefit.
You also have the acquisition of Carson Palmer. We can think what we want about Palmer and his abilities, but he is a clear upgrade for the Cardinals. Last season Cardinal QB combined for 3,383 yards, 11 TD and 21 INT. Palmer, meanwhile, playing with no receiver nearly as talented as Fitzgerald, threw for 4,018 yards and 22 TD.
No matter what the system, the QB change likely meant a vast improvement in Fitzgerald’s production. With Arians also in place, as well as the hopeful emergence of 2012 first round pick Michael Floyd and maybe some semblance of a running game (the team added Rashard Mendenhall in the offseason), things definitely appear headed in the right direction.
Prior to 2012 everyone believed Fitzgerald’s numbers were immune to poor quarterback play. While that proved inaccurate, things are most likely going to improve. Is he going to live up to the lofty numbers Arians is throwing out? Time will tell, but he is certainly a player to target on draft day.
Do you think Fitzgerald will be able to return to elite status? Why or why not?