It took almost half of the 2013 season for the Arizona Cardinals to get in sync with first-year head coach Bruce Arians’ offensive system, but after their bye week in early November things really took off through the air and on the ground.
Carson Palmer threw 14 touchdown passes over the final eight weeks.
Rookie running back Andre Ellington emerged with 923 yards of offense to go along with four total touchdowns.
Second-year wideout Mike Floyd finally lived up to his first-round billing, recording 65 catches for a team-high 1,041 yards.
And All-Pro Larry Fitzgerald fell into a groove, as well, adjusting to life all over the field with team highs in touchdowns (10) and catches (82) en route to his seventh straight Pro Bowl appearance.
But following Arizona’s 10-win season, general manager Steve Keim went out and tried to find Fitzgerald and Co. even more help in free agency.
Keim solidified the offensive line with the signing of left tackle Jared Veldheer, filled the vacancy left by Rashard Mendenhall with Jonathan Dwyer and added speed and versatility to the receiving and tight end corps with veterans Ted Ginn Jr. and John Carlson.
“Last year, for the first time in awhile in the run game we were a physical, dominant force,” Fitzgerald told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Doug and Wolf Tuesday. “You saw that when we were able to go up there and play in Seattle. We were able to establish the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and were able to physically beat people. It was nice to have that.
“But, we can also pass the ball and make our explosive plays having Jonathan Dwyer coming in now and having another year of Andre Ellington, who is so dynamic in terms of catching the ball out of the backfield, running the football and running screens. He’s a really special player. Ryan Williams is coming back, and obviously Stefan Taylor can run through the tackles. We really have a huge contingency of guys that can hurt you. That makes it fun.”
The fun isn’t limited to the backfield depth, as Fitzgerald admitted he’s especially excited about what Ginn Jr. will be able to provide to the Cardinals’ passing game.
“Ted, ever since he’s gotten into the league has been a guy who has been able to stretch the field,” said Fitzgerald. “He’s going to be dynamic in our return game. He’s going to give us so many more options on the deep ball.
“It’s great to have him as part of our team. I’ve been following him since he was a youngster at Glenville (Ohio) High School. I’ve known his father for a long time. To finally get a chance to play with him is going to be exciting. Hopefully, he can teach me some of those track speed drills.”