Larry Fitzgerald continues to thrive
Welcome to Week 3 in Advanced Targets. As always, we go behind the scenes and find the most relevant pass route and target numbers, including some surprising snap count percentages and target depth numbers you have to see to believe. A.J. Green (6.31 yards per route), Steve Smith (4.77), and Julio Jones (4.43) starred in Week 3.
As we discussed before the season began, Green led the NFL in yards per route last season at 2.9. Those numbers were obscured by injury issues and created a mild discount on one of the game’s best players. With the much-maligned, frequently scapegoated, and wildly underrated Andy Dalton playing the best football of his already sterling career, Green looks like he will be a league-winner in 2015. (Dalton ranks No. 4 in PFF’s QB Rating, and no one possesses a better combination of deep pass percentage, deep accuracy, and deep TD-INT ratio.)
Larry Fitzgerald (4.19) and Keenan Allen (3.09) both worked to confirm their bounceback seasons. Fitzgerald sits in third on the season at 3.7 yprr, while Allen is seventh at 2.63 even with his disappearing act in Week 2. It now appears nagging injuries from early in the 2014 season may offer a relatively full explanation for their struggles a year ago.
Only Randy Moss had more receiving yards by age 28 than Fitzgerald’s 9,615, but, after failing to reach 1,000 yards in any of the last three seasons, it looked like one of the greatest receivers in NFL history had entered his decline phase early and permanently. Even with Carson Palmer’s entrance in 2013, Fitzgerald only managed 954 yards and 11.4 yards per reception. That season now appears to have been more the exception than the rule. Handcuffed for nearly half a decade by some of the worst quarterback play the league has ever seen, Fitzgerald and the Cardinals look free to fly in this season.