Larry Fitzgerald: Cardinals need to stop playing like a “5-11 football team”
GLENDALE, Ariz. – It takes time for a football team to figure out who it is, both individually, as the players are constantly evolving from week to week, and collectively, as those evolving pieces continue to mesh throughout the regular season, and what all teams hope for after that, the playoffs and the Super Bowl.
As the Cardinals hit the midway point of the season, and their bye with a sparking 6-2 record, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald says Arizona’s still figuring out who they are.
“Yeah, I don’t think the identity of our ball club has been identified yet,” Fitzgerald said. “I think we still have to figure out who we’re going to be, and that’s up to us, the guys in this locker room. (Cardinals head) coach (Bruce Arians) says it all the time: ‘This is our football team. We’re only going to be as good as we decide we want to be.’”
When watching the Cardinals play, it’s not hard to see that they’re still working through some things, and they’re hammering the kinks out in all facets: offense, defense and special teams.
Just like Cardinals fans can see, Fitzgerald can see that the team can be dominant when it chooses to be, but there’s also a lot of instances when they’ve looked far from dominant.
“Perfect example: the Cleveland (Browns) game. We were two different teams there,” Fitzgerald said. “What we saw in the first half, that’s a 5-11 football team right there in the first half, then you come out in the second half, and you show what we’re capable of, not only on the offensive side, but defensively (and on) special teams, we were a completely different football team. When we play against teams like Seattle (Seahawks), and Cincinnati (Bengals), and go on the road against San Francisco (49ers), and St. Louis (Rams), and have Minnesota (Vikings), (and) Green Bay (Packers), (and) on the road against Philly (Philadelphia Eagles), we’ve got some really, really, really tough teams (coming up). We can’t have those types of halves, we can’t have those types of quarters, we can’t have those types of series if you expect to be competitive against those kinds of ball clubs, so we understand, and hopefully we can learn from the mistakes we made early on in the season.”
Arizona’s the only team in the NFL that has an offense that’s ranked in the Top 5 (#3), and a defense that’s also in the Top 5 (#4). They’ve scored a league-high 263 points, and their +110 point differential is second in the league only to the Patriots’ +116.
Their defense completely shut down the Browns in the second half last Sunday, holding them scoreless, and allowing them just 98 yards of offense after the break.
All those numbers are out there to illustrate a point: The Cardinals have looked like Super Bowl contenders on many occasions this season, which is a scary proposition moving forward, especially if they continue to stay on this numerical course, if not skyrocket past it.
Fitzgerald says it’s not scary to think that Arizona’s 6-2 and on top of the NFC West, and they haven’t put together a full 60 minutes of football. He says it’s more frustrating than anything that they haven’t achieved that yet, and we’re just hitting the midway point of the 2015 season.
“I look at it the other way. It would be great if we could (put together a full game), but our lapses (have) cost us,” Fitzgerald said. “We could easily be sitting here 7-1, or 8-0, if we played the kind of football we’re capable of. We just want to make sure that we’re doing what we need to do individually and collectively, in all three units (offense, defense, special teams), (just) playing better.”