By: Derek Havens
In New England’s week two match up against the Arizona Cardinals, their ability to stop wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald may be the key to victory. However, that is easier said than done. The Cardinals receiver has been dominant during his nine-year career and has no signs of slowing down. Here are a few notes to keep in mind for Sunday. –
– During Tuesday afternoon’s conference call with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, he certainly didn’t hold back when talking about Arizona’s all-pro receiver.
The Patriots secondary and defensive captain Devin McCourty will certainly be busy trying to cover Larry Fitzgerald Sunday. (FILE:USPresswire)
“He does everything well. He’s a great, great receiver. (He) will go down as one of the all-time greats and might end up being the best one ever, I don’t know,” Belichick said.
“He (Fitzgerald) has size, quickness, ability to separate and gets open, exceptional hands. He’s good short, deep, with the ball in his hands after the catch; strong, very smart, sets up his routes well. They move him around, they put him in a lot of different spots, it’s hard to even find; you have no idea where he’s going to line up from play to play,” Belichick added.
Belichick praises an individual of a team they will face every week, but he offered some high praise for Fitzgerald. The six time pro-bowler will undoubtedly be a big part of the defenses preparation as Sunday’s kick-off approaches.
– In his nine-year career, Fitzgerald has only missed four games during the 2006-2007 seasons. Not only is he dependable, he is no slouch on the field. The 29-year-old wideout has 697 receptions, for 9,678 yards and 73 touchdowns in that time.
Along those lines, Arizona’s biggest flaw is at the quarterback position. Derek Anderson, John Skelton, Max Hall and Kevin Kolb have all lined up under center since the departure of Kurt Warner in 2009. Despite Arizona’s shaky quarterback play, Fitzgerald has managed to still haul in 170 passes for 2,548 yards and 14 touchdowns in the last two seasons.
– Fitzgerald fits the mold of a number one receiver in the NFL. At approximately 6’3, 218 pounds, he has a solid frame and is highly regarded as one of the league’s best receivers. While Fitzgerald may not run a 4.4 40-yard dash, his real talents are his knowledge of the game and the subtle techniques that separate good from great receivers.
– My biggest concern with Fitzgerald for Sunday is his big play ability. Last year the Patriots pass defense was ranked 31st in the NFL and Larry Fitzgerald hauled in 25 passes that went for 20 yards or more; only Carolina’s Steve Smith (29) and Detroit’s Calvin Johnson (32) had more 20 plus yard receptions. The Pats secondary and defensive captain Devin McCourty will certainly be busy trying to cover Fitzgerald Sunday.
The Patriots ability to contain Larry Fitzgerald will undoubtedly be one of the keys to the game. While these notes may make that out to be a tough task, it is not impossible. Yes, the Patriots defense struggled against the pass last season, but Bill Belichick has always done a great job of taking away what opposing teams do best.
Hopefully, the defense builds off their week one performance against the Tennessee Titans and continues to make strides. I believe the Pats do enough to control Fitzgerald, resulting in another New England victory. Look for my full pre-game thoughts and score prediction later this week.
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