The Arizona Cardinals endured a truly horrific season in 2012 that was only masked somewhat by the underrated play of quarterback Kevin Kolb pre-injury and an extremely opportunistic defense at that time of the season.
Even in those four season-opening wins, Larry Fitzgerald was an atypically small part of the equation, topping 64 yards just once in those wins over the Seattle Seahawks Week 1, New England Patriots Week 2, Philadelphia Eagles Week 3 and Miami Dolphins Week 4.
Then the team’s utter free fall ensued and Fitzgerald suffered by far his worst season as a pro, finishing ranked 61st among receivers in 2012 by Pro Football Focus grades.
“It was the most frustrating season, time, I’ve ever had professionally or even amateur. I’ve never had a year like that,” Fitzgerald told Bruce Cooper of the Arizona Republic. “It was tough mentally. Physically, it was tough. It builds resolve. I know I never want to go through a season like that personally or as a team and I’m going to do everything in my power not to ever repeat that. It left a real bad taste in my mouth.”
A receiver escaping horrible quarterback play can often be a boon for great receivers, as evidenced by Randy Moss’ exile from Oakland and into the waiting arms of Tom Brady and the Pats. Though while Fitzgerald’s career arc thus far stacks up to Moss’, obviously Carson Palmer is no Tom Brady.
Still, the differential between John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Co. to an actual professional quarterback — combined with expected improvements along the offensive line through health, maturation and the draft — could spell all the difference for a future Hall of Famer like Fitzgerald.