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 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.

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