Arizona Cardinals Have Quit, but Can the Same Be Said About Larry Fitzgerald?

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Arizona Cardinals Have Quit, but Can the Same Be Said About Larry Fitzgerald?
Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Every week it seems to get worse and worse for the Arizona Cardinals. They have somehow managed to lose nine games in a row with a top-10 defense. Last week they tied a franchise low for first downs in a single game and went 0-of-15 on third down. This past week they turned the ball over eight times and set a franchise mark for the largest margin of defeat at 58-0.

With all the poor play going around, especially on the offensive side of the ball, is it safe to say the Arizona Cardinals have quit? Unfortunately, fans and media personalities alike don't get to see what goes on behind closed doors, but based on the Cards' on-field display, some players have definitely quit.

Even the father of All-Pro Larry Fitzgerald feels as if the Cardinals have quit over the course of their nine-game losing streak. Here are some numbers that might help Larry Fitzgerald Senior's case and even yours, if you too feel they have given up.

Since Week 5, Ray Horton's defense has surrendered 2,961 yards, 155 first downs and 22 touchdowns. In comparison, Mike Miller's offense has picked up 2,419 yards, 139 first downs and scored eight touchdowns. Obviously, it is easy to see Arizona's failures come down to poor play on the offensive side of the ball.

We all know about the ever-changing quarterback carousel between John Skelton and Ryan Lindley, but is it fair to place all of the offensive failures on the quarterback position alone? How about the skill players around the quarterback and the offensive line? Have they quit as well? 

Do I dare take it one step further and ask if the six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, Fitzgerald, has quit? There's no question everyone is fair game in these discussions based on the futility of play since Week 5. Let's examine his numbers and play to help us draw our own conclusion.

Image via ProFootballFocus.com

According to the analysts over at Pro Football Focus, No. 11 has only been able to muster up three positively-graded games since Week 5. Compare that to last year where Fitzgerald finished the season with 12 positively-graded games. In fairness he did have more success this season when Kevin Kolb was quarterback, yet a player's effort should not diminish based on who's taking snaps under center.

Nevertheless, it appears that even a consummate professional like Fitz has let some of the negative energy that has affected safety Adrian Wilson and defensive end Darnell Dockett creep into his game. It's hard to blame him considering the current state of affairs in the desert.

However, Fitzgerald is supposed to be the face of the franchise for the Cardinals—56 catches, 650 yards receiving and four touchdowns doesn't scream franchise player numbers. Not to mention he has dropped more passes in 2012 than ever before.

Since PFF started tracking drop rates back in 2008, Fitzgerald has always had one of the five lowest drop rates in the league. Yet this year has been a completely different story as his drop numbers are on pace to double from last year.

At the end of the 2011 season Fitzgerald finished with three drops on 83 catchable balls. Through 13 games this season he has dropped five passes on 60 catchable passes. Not a huge difference by any means, but slipping performances in key statistical categories that he can control are cause for concern.

Via ESPN Stats & Information (Mike Sando Column)
Regardless, I spent the entire day watching every one of Fitzgerald's snaps from Week 5 on and I can't confidently say that he has quit on the team. There is absolutely no evidence that suggests he has given up on himself or his team.

His declining statistics are more about him being a product of a bad offensive environment. The way he carries himself speaks for itself, year in and year out. Plus, Fitzgerald never complains, he never calls anyone out—he just hits the field on Sunday afternoons and does the best job of controlling the few things that he can control.

And one last thing, for those of you who think No. 11 deserves a trade—Fitzgerald is making $50 million in guaranteed money and plays in the NFL. Very few people can make that claim. Please don't spend too many countless hours awake at night feeling bad for him.

 

Follow @TysonNFL on Twitter.

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