Patriots coach Bill Belichick is prone to talking up whatever team he’s preparing to face next, but Belichick reserved some particularly high praise for a receiver he’s game planning for this week, Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald.
Speaking to Arizona reporters on a conference call, Belichick said Fitzgerald has the talent to become the best in NFL history.
“He’s a great, great receiver, will go down as one of the all-time greats and might end up being the best ever — I don’t know,” Belichick said. “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.”
Belichick added that the Cardinals’ offense does a lot to make it difficult for opposing defenses to focus their coverage on Fitzgerald.
“They move him around, they put him in a lot of different spots, it’s hard to even find [him],” Belichick said. “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 find him, and then it’s very hard to defend him. Again, he’s just as dangerous going down the field as he is taking a shorter pass and running with it, so that’s not really the answer, either — just letting him catch it in front of you and not give up any big plays because he can make plays there, too. Try to keep the ball out of his hands, but that’s not easy.”
Asked in an ESPN interview what he made of Belichick’s praise, Fitzgerald returned the compliment.
“Bill Belichick is the best coach to ever coach, arguably, with the Vince Lombardis and the Chuck Nolls,” Fitzgerald said. “For him to even know my name I was taken aback.”
Belichick knows a lot more than Fitzgerald’s name. He knows Fitzgerald is one of the most talented receivers to play the game.