If you had not seen it on Monday morning, Larry Fitzgerald, Sr., the journalist father of the Arizona Cardinals star receiver, made some noise on Twitter. He made an observation, as that is what his job has him do, but it was directed at Arizona Cardinals receiver Early Doucet. He tweeted this:
The comments were taken by many in many ways, and his basis was slightly inaccurate, but in the end the point was on target, albeit slightly incorrect.
First of all, Doucet is getting some attention because of his slip in the endzone when he was wide open for what would have been the game-tying touchdown in the game against the Bengals. It was a terribly timed accident, due to excitement and a throw by John Skelton that was not on target.
But despite that one play, Doucet really has had a solid year.
To start, let's look at where Fitz Sr. was off base.
He says that Doucet is not a reliable number two receiver. Technically he is a number three receiver. Andre Roberts starts opposite Larry Fitzgerald.
The senior Fitz also claims Doucet dropped five TDs this season. This is where I find his tweet most alarming. As a journalist, facts are important. If he was speaking out as a journalist, then he should have his facts straight. Here he is simply incorrect.
Doucet has scored five touchdowns, and had a sixth get nullified against the Minnesota Vikings, thanks to a penalty. Doucet has dropped one pass that would have been a touchdown and one that could have been. The drop that would have been a score was in San Francisco. The other that might have been was a short pass at about the two-yard line that was thrown to him as he was running underneath. He bobbled the throw and dropped it. It looked like he might have scored on the play if he had held on, but it was not a sure thing.
Now, where did Fitz, Sr. have it on target?
His tweet indicated that Doucet drops too many passes. I can agree with that. According to ESPN and STATS, he has either three or five drops. Pro Football Focus is more critical and has him with eight drops. They are two in Minnesota, three against Baltimore and one each against Dallas, San Fran and Cincinnati.
I went back to the game footage to look at the supposed drops. We can remember clearly the drop he had on third down in the final drive of the fourth quarter of the game against the Cowboys. His drop in San Francisco was not good, but the pass was low and behind him -- still a ball he should have caught.
In Cincinnati, in the fourth quarter, with 2:59 left in the game, he was hit in traffic and brought down, but he could not quite keep control all the way down. Based on the drops according to PFF, at least two of the other drops were either in heavy coverage or throws that were tough catches, but he could have and probably should have hauled in.
Is that too many? In the eyes of most fans, any drop is too many.
Fitz the writer also said Doucet needs to work harder. Based on later tweets, he was not insinuating that he did not work hard enough in the offseason. The truth is that after he had surgery for a sports hernia, he was not cleared to work out until August.
Since Doucet has had some drops, he does need to work harder and holding on to tough catches. Looking back, that is what is most notable. He does not make many tough catches. That would be a next step to take.
"He is not a dependable number two." This is true and not true. He has not had the breakout season. He is not a number two. He has been fairly dependable, though. He leads the team in targets and receptions on third down, so he is a guy the team counts on. He has five TDs. He is second on the team in receptions with 53.
If you look at someone comparable, you can look to former Cards WR Anquan Boldin. Doucet has been referred to many times as "Boldin-lite." How do the two stack up?
Doucet has 53 receptions, Boldin has 57 in Baltimore, and is their number one receiver. Boldin has a lot more yards with 887, while Doucet has 682. Doucet has five TDs to Boldin's three. According to PFF, both have dropped eight passes. Boldin has been targeted more often (102 times) than Doucet (87), but only has four more catches.
Now, let us look at their salaries. Doucet signed a one-year deal coming into this season for $1.2 million. Boldin makes $6 million this season.
Who is the better value? That is clearly Doucet.
The fact that Doucet has been healthy for the whole season for the first time in his career is huge. It was a big step. However, he has been inconsistent.
At the core of the Fitz Sr. tweet is this -- he has not been reliable enough to be a legitimate number two receiver. In this he is correct. If he is to be that player, he does need to work harder and cut out some of the mistakes he has made.
But when he used inaccurate data to make his point, that is where he needs to be called out. He has the resources. There is no excuse.
Will Doucet be back in 2012? It certainly is possible. Can we as fans count on him to be what Boldin was when he was in Arizona? That is what we cannot say yet.
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