Arizona Cardinals have receivers who are open even when they’re not

Dec 27, 2013, 9:40 PM | Updated: 9:42 pm

TEMPE, Ariz. — For the Arizona Cardinals, receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd are usually open down the field, even when they’re not.

The duo has combined to catch 135 passes for 1,791 yards and 15 touchdowns, with many of their biggest receptions coming with a defender either in the area or all over them.

At 6-foot-3, 218 pounds and 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, respectively, Fitzgerald and Floyd are built to win one-on-one battles with defensive backs. No matter how good the coverage may be, sometimes the smart play is to throw the ball their way.

“You’ve got Larry and you’ve got Michael, of course, they’re two big receivers,” offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said. “Just throw it up and give them a chance, see what happens.”

Or as Floyd put it, “Being who we are, we always think we can win jump balls and having a quarterback that can have faith in us and trust us is a big deal.”

The most recent example came in last Sunday’s 17-10 win over the Seattle Seahawks. Floyd only had one reception, but his 31-yard touchdown with 2:13 left in the game was the game-winner. Floyd “beat” Seahawks corner Byron Maxwell on the play, and Carson Palmer delivered a perfect pass.

“We saw that it was zero coverage and to me, he had faith in me to throw me the long ball, and we capitalized and scored a touchdown,” Floyd said.

Early in the season, the touchdowns weren’t coming as often as people would have liked. While people would point to Palmer as the problem, sometimes it was more about a receiver failing to do his job on the play and ensure the ball either landed in his hands or on the ground. Floyd said he “always” feels that responsibility, and it’s something Fitzgerald has felt for years with various quarterbacks.

“When he’s putting you in that situation, he’s expecting you to either catch that ball or break it up, making sure that we don’t get any turnovers,” Larry Fitzgerald said. “Obviously we love to make those type of plays.”

More of them happen when they’re run successfully.

“We haven’t thrown that many in the second half of the season because we weren’t winning the battle, but then we won some,” Arians said.

Those wins led to trust, and that trust has led to wins.

“These two guys have the ability to do that,” Palmer said. “That’s something that I haven’t played with — a guy that had that ability. Especially Mike. Mike has done a phenomenal job of making plays on the ball.”

What Palmer has had to learn with Floyd and Fitzgerald is not unlike what former Cardinal Kurt Warner had to back when he was under center for the team, and it’s something that takes time.

“It’s just a repetition thing,” Palmer said. “It’s easy to say, ‘Well just throw him a jump ball;’ you have to throw a jump ball in the right place.

“That’s something that we’ll continue to get better at. I’ve got a decent feel for it. I’d like to get a lot more comfortable. The only way I’ll get more comfortable is more and more reps.”

As time has gone on, though, it appears Palmer has become more comfortable with and trusting of his wideouts, and in turn the Cardinals have had more big plays down the field.

Sometimes it happens when a receiver is wide open. Other times, the receiver is covered. But as it turns out, “covered” is not always exactly that.

“When you get one-on-one coverage, you always feel like you’re open,” Fitzgerald said.

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) works in the pocket against the Tennessee Titans dur...
Tyler Drake

Lamar Jackson’s trade request adds an extra layer to busy NFL offseason

The twists and turns of the NFL offseason roll on following Ravens QB Lamar Jackson's Monday announcement of his trade request.
16 hours ago
General manager Monti Ossenfort of the Arizona Cardinals speaks to the media during the NFL Combine...
Tyler Drake

2023 NFL Mock Draft Tracker: What will the Cardinals do with 3rd pick?

A look at the players being mocked to the Arizona Cardinals at No. 3 overall in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
2 days ago
Krys Barnes #51 of the Green Bay Packers breaks up a pass intended for Devine Ozigbo #28 of the New...
Alex Weiner

Cardinals agree to 1-year deal with former Packers LB Krys Barnes

The Arizona Cardinals agreed to terms with 24-year-old inside linebacker Krys Barnes on a one-year contract, the team announced on Saturday.
3 days ago
Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Arizona Cardinals lines up during the NFL game against the...
Wills Rice

Report: Cardinals may want ‘Christian McCaffrey package’ for DeAndre Hopkins

The Cardinals are sticking to their guns in asking for a second round pick for wideout DeAndre Hopkins, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported.
3 days ago
Defensive back Christian Gonzalez #0 of the Oregon Ducks returns an interception in the third quart...
Tyler Drake

Cardinals’ mock draft scenarios: Arizona deals the No. 3 pick

Trade the No. 3 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft or keep it? That’s the question Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort will have to answer soon enough.
4 days ago
Arizona Cardinals' owner Michael Bidwill, left, new head coach Jonathan Gannon center, and general ...
Tyler Drake

NFL dates to remember and how they relate to the Cardinals

As Arizona's new regime gets to work on rebuilding the organization, a look at the key dates of the offseason to circle on the calendar.
4 days ago
Arizona Cardinals have receivers who are open even when they’re not