Not even the oddest year in recent memory could keep Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald from returning in 2020.
Fitzgerald, the prolific receiver who has been in Arizona since 2004, is currently in his 17th NFL season. Once always expected to catch at least 100 passes in a season, Fitzgerald now serves as a sage mentor for the Arizona Cardinals.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic and a slightly reduced role haven’t bothered Fitzgerald too much. Still, there is one thing the receiver said has made this season his strangest in the league.
Larry Fitzgerald is an NFL legend
Although the receiving numbers haven’t been in recent years what they were in his prime, Larry Fitzgerald is still going strong in 2020.
Fitzgerald enters a Week 4 matchup at Carolina with 1,390 career catches for 17,167 yards and 120 touchdowns in 253 games. The 11-time Pro Bowler has nine career seasons with over 1,000 yards and another where he topped 900 yards.
Fitzgerald’s role has evolved from the years to a lead, star receiver to the veteran mentor on several rebuilding Cardinals teams. With DeAndre Hopkins off to a historic start in Arizona, Fitzgerald is now the second or third-most important in head coach Kliff Kingsbury‘s offense — and Fitzgerald is fine with that role.
Fitzgerald has had a strange 2020 season
Larry Fitzgerald has every right to feel like he’s back in 2006 again.
Much like the old days, Fitzgerald has an elite receiver opposite him in the passing game — then, it was Anquan Boldin, but now it’s DeAndre Hopkins — and a young quarterback. It’s impossible to dispute, though, that Kyler Murray has been far more productive and has a higher ceiling than Matt Leinart did, so many years ago.
Fitzgerald caught 12 passes for 84 yards in his first three games; if the season ended today, his seven yards per catch average would be his lowest since a 9.6 YPC in 2016.
Detroit held Fitzgerald to zero catches in a Week 3 victory for the Lions. Fitzgerald had caught at least one pass in every game since Oct. 31, 2004, a 38-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills. That streak spanned 5,810 days and 247 games.
Larry Fitzgerald just explained the strangest part of this season
The entire year of 2020 has been an odd one, and Larry Fitzgerald isn’t going to dispute that fact.
That also applies to the ongoing NFL season, which just postponed the Steelers-Titans game because of positive COVID-19 tests. But to Fitzgerald, there has been something even stranger this season.
According to Sports Illustrated, Fitzgerald said the lack of home-field advantage and crowd noise has been a tremendous change.
Fitzgerald specifically said how the lack of true noise has helped teams figure out what the other is doing before a play starts.
“You can actually hear them talking to each other. OK, they’re playing zone or playing man. You have a better understanding of what’s going on just because you can hear everything and not hear the crowd distracting you. So it’s a lot easier to play on the road thus far. We’ve only had one road game, but it definitely wasn’t nearly as challenging as it has been the last 16 years.”
Fitzgerald should be pleased with that fact, considering the Cardinals have three consecutive road games. Arizona travels to the Panthers (1-2), Jets (0-4), and Cowboys (1-2) before returning home to host Russell Wilson and the Seahawks in Week 7.