Playing nice: Bill Belichick offers high praise for Larry Fitzgerald
By: Kim O'Hara | Posted: September 12, 2012
We’ve noticed a bizarre new trend in the 2012 NFL season here at The Football Girl. It began last week, with Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers paying unsolicited praise to San Francisco defensive end Justin Smith and Ravens head coach John Harbaugh laying it on thick about the talents of Cincinnati receiver A.J. Green. This week we’ve seen one player tweet vehemently his respect for an opposing receiver, but the quotes that have surprised me most are from His Grumpiness himself, New England head coach Bill Belichick.
Belichick is often a man with answers as short as his game day cut-off sweatshirt sleeves, but when asked about Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald, whom he will be tasked with shutting down this Sunday, his response was both effusive and emphatic:
"He does everything well. He's a great, great receiver; will go down as one of the all-time greats and might end up being the best one ever, I don't know. He has size, quickness, ability to separate and gets open, exceptional hands. He's good short, deep, with the ball in his hands after the catch; strong, very smart, sets up his routes well. They move him around, they put him in a lot of different spots, it's hard to even find [him]; you have no idea where he's going to line up from play to play. He has a very big route tree; he runs all the routes with double moves off of them and complementary moves so one route sets up another. It's very hard to defend him. It's very hard to find him and then it's very hard to defend him."
Nothing Belichick says there can really be refuted. Fitzgerald is a unique talent that has toiled under mediocre quarterback play for nearly his entire career at Arizona; had Kurt Warner not experienced a career resurgence for the ages from 2008-2010, Fitzgerald could have yet to make a postseason appearance. I have always wondered what Fitzgerald could do with a Drew Brees, a Peyton Manning or, yes, a Tom Brady. It sounds like Belichick has also allowed himself to fantasize about such a pairing. He’s the king of the tight end with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, scrappy receivers such as Wes Welker and Deion Branch and even a deep threat who CAN still take the top off in Randy Moss, but the Belichick-Brady pairing has never worked with an elite receiver in the prime of his career such as Fitzgerald.
We’ll see what happens this week; Week 1 latherers went 1-1, with Rodgers and Green Bay falling victim to a San Francisco defense that hasn’t missed a beat since last season supported by an improved offense, while Harbaugh’s Ravens held both Green and the Cincinnati offense strongly in check. I’m anxious to see how Chris Houston, Bill Belichick and their respective teams perform this week, and whether this opponent-pandering will become a trend this season.
Let’s track it. Have you heard any high praise from one opponent to another this week? If so, please comment below or tweet me @arahomik.
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