ARIZONA CARDINALS

Larry, the red zone and Floyd

Aug 23, 2013, 6:55 PM | Updated: 6:56 pm

Bruce Arians is not very happy with the Cardinals’ offense in the red zone. Missed opportunities are not the way a football team wins games, and there is no better example of a missed opportunity than having possession of the football inside the opponent’s 20-yard line and not scoring a TD.

But the preseason is nothing like regular season football, where coaches scheme and game plan for their opponent. Defenses, and how a team plays on the defensive side of the ball, changes when offenses get into their red zone. Offenses use different protection schemes, call different plays and utilize personnel groups that only appear in the red zone.

And this is why I think forcing Larry Fitzgerald to learn three wide receiver positions is going to pay off in spades. The Japanese Fighting Fish, deadly and single-minded of purpose, is going to be much more dangerous in the red zone.

Defensive coordinators will not know where Fitz is going to line up. This makes it much more difficult to double Larry, especially when using multiple combinations of coverage to double him. It simplifies the defense for the Q or, if they choose to try and double Larry, it helps the quarterback determine which receivers are singled up.

All of this adds up to more production for Larry and/or more opportunities for other receivers based on what defenses choose to do. Double Larry and let Carson Palmer find a receiver that has a matchup advantage, or single Larry and let him win a 1-on-1 battle.

The defense has got to pick its poison. My guess is that they’ll tip their hand and double Larry and take their chances with Michael Floyd, Andre Roberts and Rob Housler. And that’s the reason why I think Michael Floyd is on the precipice of having a huge year.

No player is more improved — year-to-year — than Michael Floyd. He has had a great training camp. He’s more confident, more physical, more assertive than I’ve ever seen him and he’s catching the ball away from his body, using his hands, much better.

Moving Larry around, using formations and surprise to confound the defense is going to impact the Cardinals more in the red zone than anywhere else on the field. And Michael Floyd will be the beneficiary.

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Larry, the red zone and Floyd