When last we left Larry Fitzgerald, the Pro Bowl wide receiver was still trying to understand the different positions new coach Bruce Arians was having him learn.
It wasn’t just one spot all the time for Fitz anymore. Arians was going to move him around a lot. Two days into training camp, Fitzgerald said he’s in a “much better place” than where he was during those offseason workouts.
“They were sending me different scripts every day so I could look it over, so mentally I could do what I would be seeing – different blitzes and sights and adjustments,” Fitzgerald said. “I’ve been OK. I’ve made a few mistakes which I would love to clean up and need to clean up to be accountable for my teammates. But I am much further ahead of where I was. I feel much more comfortable. I can line up and make fast decisions and play like I want to play.”
It wasn’t as if Fitzgerald never moved inside under former coach Ken Whisenhunt, but it was designed in the context of his outside position. That’s changed, much like Arians changed the
Clearly, it wasn’t Fitzgerald’s first choice, but Arians made it understood that was the best way to get Fitzgerald the ball again. Whatever resistance Fitzgerald had to the idea has disappeared.
“I wouldn’t use (the word) challenge,” Fitzgerald said. “I would just say it is different. It’s different when you’ve played one position your entire career. But it would be different if it was a coach that I knew didn’t have success throwing the football. You put BA’s stats against any offensive coordinator the last 10 years … it’s right up there. It’s not like we’ve got some guy who doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
Arians’ arrival in fact buoyed Fitzgerald’s confidence in the passing game going forward. He rattled off the statistics of Arians’ offenses enough that someone wondered if he truly knew these things or was just guessing.
Fitzgerald, who grew up studying the NFL media guides his father – a sports journalist – would have at home, has always paid close attention to such things.
“To say I’m a student of the game would be an understatement,” Fitzgerald said. “I pretty much know all the stats around the league and the systems. I have friends around the league and I talk to a lot of guys.”
Without pausing, Fitzgerald also referenced Arians’ role as Pittsburgh offensive coordinator in a game that was just a little important in both Fitzgerald’s and Cardinals’ history.
“And obviously, he stuck a dagger in my heart in 2008,” Fitzgerald said about Super Bowl XLIII, “so I definitely remember him.”