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Fitzgerald before Boldin for Cardinals' Warner

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Kurt Warner has had much more success finding Larry Fitzgerald on early downs, with Anquan Boldin emerging on third down and Steve Breaston's effectiveness transcending all downs.

The charts, produced by Hank Gargiulo of ESPN Stats & Information, break down Warner's passer ratings by receiver and situation. The first chart isolates first and second downs.

The second chart isolates third down. Warner's rating when throwing to Boldin jumps from 74.2 on early downs to 103.0 on third down. His rating when throwing to Fitzgerald drops from 109.5 on early downs to 32.7 on third down.

Breaston's role in the offense probably deserves more scrutiny. Warner probably throws to Breaston mostly when Fitzgerald and Boldin do not present superior options. I think that explains why Breaston catches a higher percentage of the passes thrown his way. Perhaps he needs to be a higher-percentage play for Warner to consider throwing to him.

The difficulties Warner has had finding Fitzgerald in obvious passing situations -- analyzed here, here and here -- would be most apparent on third down.