While there are so many new faces on the Arizona Cardinals roster, coaching staff and front office, the unsettling feeling inside in a week leading up to a matchup with the San Francisco 49ers has not changed.
Not that there ever needs to be more on the line for a matchup between the two teams, but that will be the case at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday afternoon in the final week of the regular season as the 49ers are fighting for playoff positioning and the Cardinals are just hoping to somehow to get in.
For one of the longest tenured Cardinals on the roster, Larry Fitzgerald is a big reason to why the thoughts toward their NFC West rivals is always a negative one.
“You don’t need any extra motivation the play the 49ers,” Fitzgerald explained. “If we could only win two games the whole season I would pick both the be against the 49ers. That’s just the way we have it.”
While his numbers are up from a season ago, Fitzgerald has had one of the more frustrating seasons of his career. Not just in learning a new system and new positions under new head coach Bruce Arians, but also dealing with a nagging hamstring and also a concussion scare during the year.
“He’s gutted it out half the year hurt,” said Arians. “And learning all the new positions I think he has done very well. I would have liked to have seen him get 1,000 yards for sure but his touchdowns are up and I’d like to see him get a few more.”
“It’s an average year,” mentioned Fitzgerald. “I think about where are as a team as opposed to where were last year and the year before. Playing meaningful games in December and have a chance to win 11 game, tying the most in franchise history.”
Fitzgerald is always one to point toward the team but did mention a lot has to do with the addition of quarterback Carson Palmer who has the ability to eclipse the 4,000 yards passing mark this season despite his up’s and downs with turning the ball over. His way of moving on, having a short memory and Fitzgerald believes the constant improvement of not just his game, but also the offense as a whole is in large part to Palmer.
“It has a lot to do with the quarterback,” Fitzgerald stated. “It helps having a quarterback out there who knows what to do with the football and can make the throws, that helps out tremendously and Carson has done that for us all season.”
While it hasn’t been pretty post Kurt Warner, Fitzgerald and the Cardinals, with the help of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday can do something little thought would be possible following a five win season.
Calais Campbell stated that the Cardinals have the best team in the NFC on Thursday and Larry Fitzgerald as well as Bruce Arians agreed.
“I would agree but now we have to go out there and prove it,” Arians said. “And then hopefully we can prove it in the playoffs as well.”
Cardinals and 49ers kick-off Sunday at 2:25 from University of Phoenix Stadium.