I’m probably about as big of a Larry Fitzgerald skeptic as there is. I’m sure he’s a good receiver and everything, but I also doubt that he’s on the level of Calvin Johnson. That might seem like an unfair standard except that Larry Fitzgerald is being paid like he’s in Megatron’s league. When the Lions went 0-16 with a mix of Dan Orlovsky, John Kitna and a washed up Duante Culpepper, Calvin went for 1300 yards and 12 touchdowns. Not bad. Larry Fitz hasn’t been able to maintain that same level of production with QB groups that have been awful, but seem like they can only be equally awful to the group that DET trotted out in 2008. Of the Lions 2008 QBs, only Kitna has had any measure of relevance following that season.
But that doesn’t mean that the 2012 Cardinals QBs weren’t really bad, and while I probably won’t own Larry Fitz in any re-draft leagues this year, I do think he has some light at the end of the tunnel. If Carson Palmer can be just as good as Kevin Kolb was, then I think Fitz can sneak back into the top 12 or so WRs.
First, here is Fitz’s stat line for all of the games that Kolb started last year:
*Includes week 1 that which was started by John Skelton, while Kolb came in to finish the game.
Fitz wasn’t particularly efficient and required a lot of targets to roll up his yards, but he at least produced decent counting stats.
Then here’s what happened to Fitz after Kolb went out for the season:
That same dynamic (where Fitz is serviceable with Kevin Kolb throwing him the ball, but terrible when others throw him the ball) is evident in the efficiency numbers of the various QBs that have played for the Cardinals recently. You’ll note that out of the ARI QBs, Kolb sports the healthiest AYA number when throwing to Fitz.
|Derek Anderson||Larry Fitzgerald||WR||102||49||629||4||4||5.19|
|John Skelton||Larry Fitzgerald||WR||168||82||1255||7||12||5.09|
|Kevin Kolb||Larry Fitzgerald||WR||121||70||1017||5||4||7.74|
|Ryan Lindley||Larry Fitzgerald||WR||39||14||150||0||3||0.38|
Kolb’s AYA when throwing to Fitz is significantly higher than the other QBs. That’s on pretty close to a season’s worth of targets.
If Carson Palmer can be just as good as Kolb, which isn’t a really high bar to get over, and if Bruce Arians doesn’t stop the healthy number of targets headed Fitz’s way, then Fitz has a shot.