Mariucci: Palmer and Fitzgerald NFL’s best QB-WR duo

Sep 23, 2015, 10:36 AM

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) talks with wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) and ...

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) talks with wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) and head coach Bruce Arians before an NFL preseason football game against the Oakland Raiders in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

There was a time just less than a decade ago when Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald formed one of the most dynamic and dangerous QB/WR duos in the NFL.

On a weekly basis you could see them torching opposing defenses for big plays, as the two helped the Cardinals become one of the better teams in the NFC.

Since Warner retired following the 2009 season, though, Fitzgerald’s numbers have for the most part declined, and going into this year many felt the 32-year-old’s best days were behind him.

They may have been wrong.

Boosted by the return of quarterback Carson Palmer, Fitzgerald is off to a fantastic start in 2015, catching 14 passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns in the Cardinals’ first two games, both of which were wins. He is tied for 10th in the league in receptions, is fifth in receiving yards and is tied for second in touchdowns.

Meanwhile Palmer, the man responsible for getting Fitzgerald the ball, is tied for the league lead with seven touchdown passes, is sixth in yards per attempt and has a QB rating that is only bettered by Tennessee’s Marcus Mariota and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers.

Combined, the two are looking an awful lot like the team’s previous dynamic duo, of which Fitzgerald was a part of. In fact, they are off to such a good start that NFL.com analyst Steve Mariucci listed them as the top QB-WR duo in the NFL.

I have to go with a couple of old-timers in Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald. The Arizona veterans are playing at the top of their games right now. Against the Bears on Sunday, Fitzgerald had three touchdown catches in a regular-season game for the first time in his 12-year career. That’s pretty cool. Larry is a class act and what a receiver ought to be on and off the field. You always root for a receiver like that.

Palmer, who is coming back from his second knee surgery, has won 15 of his last 17 games. He looks really good early in the season. Palmer and Fitzgerald haven’t been together forever, but they’re both pros. They both work hard in the offseason, study the game and are dependable. They’re a big reason the Cardinals are 2-0 and leading the NFC West.

Other duos listed by the panel included Atlanta, with QB Matt Ryan and WR Julio Jones, as well as Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers/James Jones combo, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown connection and New England’s Tom Brady to Julian Edelman attack.

Given that it’s only been two weeks, chances are these picks will change. Even in Arizona, while Fitzgerald is currently pacing the team, it would surprise no one if receivers John Brown and Michael Floyd looked like the No. 1 option in certain weeks.

But that the veteran Fitzgerald seems to have found new life with Palmer under center is a good thing for Arizona, and a potentially very, very scary one for the rest of the NFL.

Arizona Cardinals kick returner David Johnson returns the opening kickoff for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato) Arizona Cardinals kick returner David Johnson (31) runs the opening kickoff or a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) is tackled by Arizona Cardinals defenders during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) runs the ball with Arizona Cardinals linebacker Kevin Minter (51) giving chase during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) Military jets do a flyover during pregame ceremonies before an NFL football game between the Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) Arizona Cardinals linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (55) sticks out his tongue before an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) looks for a receiver during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler hands off  to running back Matt Forte (22) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) Arizona Cardinals kick returner David Johnson (31) runs the opening kickoff for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago.  (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) Chicago Bears receiver Josh Bellamy (11) runs for a touchdown after a pass reception against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) Chicago Bears wide receiver Josh Bellamy, right, celebrates his touchdown with wide receiver Marquess Wilson (10) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) Chicago Bears wide receiver Josh Bellamy (11) celebrates his touchdown with teammates during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, center, and wide receiver Josh Bellamy (11) celebrate a touchdown as Arizona Cardinals linebacker Alex Okafor (57) walks off during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Jaron Brown (13) celebrates his touchdown with teammates during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Jaron Brown (13) dives into the end zone for a touchdown against Chicago Bears safety Adrian Amos (38) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller (23) breaks up a pass intended for Arizona Cardinals wide receiver John Brown (12) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Jaron Brown (13) celebrates a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) Arizona Cardinals running back Chris Johnson (23) runs between Chicago Bears linebacker Shea McClellin (50), cornerback Sherrick McManis (27) and cornerback Alan Ball (24) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Jaron Brown (13) dives to the end zone for a touchdown past Chicago Bears safety Adrian Amos (38) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) Arizona Cardinals running back Chris Johnson (23) rushes against the Chicago Bears during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) scrambles away from Chicago Bears defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins (96) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians argues a call with head linesman John McGrath (5) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) Chicago Bears tight end Martellus Bennett (83) makes a catch under pressure from Arizona Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson (22) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) Chicago Bears running back Jeremy Langford (33) celebrates a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago.  (AP Photo/David Banks) Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) rushes as Arizona Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson (22) chases after him during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) celebrates his touchdown reception against the Chicago Bears during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) Arizona Cardinals safety Deone Bucannon (20) strips the ball away from Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) Chicago Bears head coach John Fox celebrates a touchdown with quarterback Jay Cutler (6) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver John Brown (12) reacts after making a first down against the Chicago Bears during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) Chicago Bears quarterback Jimmy Clausen (8) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) Chicago Bears defensive tackle Eddie Goldman (91) tackles Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) Chicago Bears cornerback Alan Ball (24) reacts to a pass interference call against him during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) Chicago Bears cornerback Alan Ball (24) breaks up a pass intended for Arizona Cardinals wide receiver John Brown (12) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. The play was called interference against the Bears. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) Chicago Bears head coach John Fox congratulates running back Jeremy Langford (33) after his touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) makes a touchdown reception against Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller (23) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) Chicago Bears quarterback Jimmy Clausen (8) hands off to running back Matt Forte (22) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) Chicago Bears linebacker Jared Allen (69) celebrates after intercepting a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) Arizona Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson (22) celebrates after intercepting a pass for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) Arizona Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson (22) celebrates a touchdown after intercepting a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) Chicago Bears quarterback Jimmy Clausen (8) throws a pass that was intercepted by Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) makes a touchdown reception against Chicago Bears linebacker Shea McClellin (50) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) celebrates a touchdown reception with running back Chris Johnson (23) and offensive tackle Earl Watford during the second half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

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