TEMPE, Ariz. — Larry Fitzgerald is used to having better statistics than what he has posted through the first quarter of the 2014 season.
Thirteen catches. One hundred and sixty-four yards. Zero touchdowns.
The eight-time Pro Bowler ranks second on the team with 28 targets, but has been unable to turn those into the kind of numbers people have become accustomed to.
He knows it.
“I just control the things I can control; it is what it is,” he said Thursday. “There’s no reason to complain about it or get down.
“I get my opportunities, I just have to make the best of them.”
While there is no doubt Fitzgerald would prefer to be more involved in the offense, all one needs to do is watch his reaction after big plays to understand winning is pretty high on his list of priorities. Whether it was him or someone else who did it, he has been fairly demonstrative with regards to excitement over the team’s on-field success.
Yet, like all players, he would like to contribute more.
“I hope so, I hope so,” Fitzgerald said when asked if he thinks he is due for a breakout performance.
The pace Fitzgerald is on would see him finish the season with 52 catches for 656 yards and no scores. Chances are he will reach the end zone, and one would have to believe he will have at least a couple vintage performances by the time the campaign is over, tough the team’s quarterback situation along with how defenses approach the Cardinals will have a big say in that.
However, since being targeted just four times in the season opener against the San Diego Chargers, Fitzgerald has seen more passes come his way than anyone else on the team. They are not the shots down the field and outside of the numbers that he has become known for, instead often times safer throws that are closer to the line of scrimmage. After his yards-per-catch averaged reached a career high in 2011 at 17.6, he posted seasons of 11.2 and 11.6 in 2012 and 2013. This season, he is at 12.6, with his longest reception going for 33 yards.
Ultimately, the numbers do not exactly back up the idea that Fitzgerald is being phased out of the offense, though it appears his role has evolved over time while the team has given larger roles to running back Andre Ellington along with receivers Michael Floyd and John Brown. So really, is what has happened through the first four games with regards to usage and routes the new reality for the future hall of famer?
“If it is, it is,” Fitzgerald said. “If it’s not, it’s not. I don’t put much thought in it.”