TEMPE Ariz — In some ways the Arizona Cardinals

first_img TEMPE, Ariz. — In some ways, the Arizona Cardinals’ wide receiver group should be excellent.There is Larry Fitzgerald, the highly-paid former No. 3 overall pick in 2004 and Michael Floyd, who was the 12th overall selection in the 2012 draft. They are complemented by John Brown, a speedster with great hands who was a third-round pick in 2014, as well as the super-fast J.J. Nelson, a 2015 draft pick. There is also the versatile Jaron Brown and speedy Brittan Golden, each of whom were added as free agents. Goodwin, who is in his third season with the Cardinals after spending time with the Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears, added, “We’re just loaded.”However, what makes Arizona’s group different from some others is that, as Goodwin said, it is a humble group.“They all are for the team,” he said.Being all for the team has been beneficial to them all.With help from running backs and tight ends, of course, the Cardinals finished the regular season second in the NFL in passing offense, averaging 289 yards per game. Their quarterbacks posted a rating of 100.9, which was the fifth-best mark in the league, and their average of 8.5 yards per attempt was the best of all 32 teams.There are a number of reasons for that, including the offensive line and the threat of a running game, but there’s really no way to overstate the importance of Arizona’s embarrassment of riches in the passing game.And, maybe, the importance of how the receivers work together and off of each other should not be understated, either.“I like the fact that we’re all very close-knit,” Fitzgerald said. “Guys work extremely hard; we all have different skill-sets and things that we do really well and I think we complement each other really well on the field, and guys are really pulling for each other. “Close to the top, if not the best,” head coach Bruce Arians said of where his team’s receiver depth compares to others he has coached. “We had a couple really good groups in Pittsburgh. We had a great group in Cleveland with Kevin Johnson, Andre’ Davis, Dennis Northcutt and Quincy Morgan. But, the young group in Pittsburgh. There were really two different groups between Santonio (Holmes), Nate Washington and Hines (Ward), and then Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Hines probably was the most talented, but were still very young when I had them.”Arians’ group in Arizona is a solid mix of veterans and youth.The Cardinals are not the only team with a bevvy of options in the passing game, but they are one of the most difficult to defend. Larry Fitzgerald said, if you ask them, there are seven No. 1-type receivers on the team. While that claim may be a bit outlandish, it also may not be as far from the truth as some may think.“They’re all pretty good,” Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said. “In 12 years, it’s the first group that I can remember being around that any guy could step on the grass and be a top, a one or a two receiver in this league on any other team. And we’ve still got Brittan Golden, whose made some plays in practice [Thursday] that were phenomenal.” Arizona Cardinals wide receiver John Brown (12) celebrates his touchdown with teammate Larry Fitzgerald (11) during the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) This season, Arizona wideouts combined to catch 249 passes for 3,515 yards and 25 touchdowns, with each providing quarterback Carson Palmer reliable and impactful targets on any given pass play.“Well, it’s just so hard to defend. You don’t know who’s running what route,” Palmer said of the advantage that group gives the Cardinals. “The offense isn’t so much built around what guys do well. Everybody has to do everything pretty well, because you’re going to have to run it more often than not. Sometimes you’re just running it to be a decoy, and sometimes you’re running it and you’re the number one target. So, it’s hard.“Sometimes, Smokey’s (John Brown) inside, he’s outside. Mike’s inside, he’s outside. You just don’t know where the number one read’s going to line up, which side of the ball is it, the strength or the weakness of the formation. Inside is number three. In the middle is number two, or all the way out is number one. It just makes it difficult to prepare and defend. Once the ball snaps, it’s hard to recognize a concept or recognize a scheme and jump a route.”As anyone who has watched the Cardinals this season can tell you, while Fitzgerald and Brown are the team’s leading receivers in terms of receptions, the ball can and will go to anyone running a route. Some plays, it may be those two; others, it will be Floyd, Jaron Brown or one of the other options. Top Stories Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and sellingcenter_img The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Comments   Share   Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires “This is probably the closest-knit group that I’ve ever had. It’s a really fun group to be in.”last_img

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