Please no more… Brandon Lloyd Stunt Dives
Brandon Lloyd, last year’s big signing, finished the season with 911 yards and 4 TDs. I can’t say I hated the guy, and he certainly wasn’t unproductive. He was the 2nd leading receiver on the roster. He made the back shoulder sideline catch look easy. He had the second most targets on the team (130). Despite not being the “deep threat” that many were convinced he’d be, he was one of only 3 Pats wideouts with double digit 20+ yard catches (believe it or not Welker and Gronk had more). And he made us forget all about the old “85”, whats-his-name that now only exists in Twitter, divorce court, and XBox Live adding himself to Madden rosters.
But seriously… look me in the eye and tell me Lloyd didn’t leave at least 100 yards on the table by never ever trying for yards after the catch.
Lloyd was absolutely obsessed with getting to the ground or getting out of bounds the second he caught anything. Once in a while he’d even cost himself the catch by doing the stop drop and roll routine before the ball even got to him. If it wasn’t that he’d dive, jump, or leave his feet without really needing to and purposely put himself in the position to catch and fall down. To some people it looked like an amazing catch. To most of us it looked like Lloyd doing a stuntman gunshot maneuver on a routine catch.
And to think… people around here actually criticized Randy Moss for not being a “complete receiver” whatever the hell that was supposed to mean. Moss had his moments, and got accused of dogging it more than once by media pessimists. Moss delivered though. He put up 1,000+ yards and 11 TDs in 16 games with Matt Cassell. In 3 full seasons with the New England Patriots Moss never caught for less than 1,000 yards or fewer than 11 TDs. And he did it with the Boston media griping about how lazy he was, and how anyone can just run in a straight line. Does that add up to you?
It seemed like early in the season the only thing that was working was the back shoulder throw on the sideline. Then in the 2nd half of the year it was almost like Brady and McDaniels were challenging Lloyd to extend the play, getting the ball to him closer and closer to the middle of the field. Every time though, he found a way to get to the ground. Usually this meant dropping to his knees to catch a ball he could have just as easily caught standing up.
Being a Patriots receiver historically means having some sort of killer instinct to make the plays you need to make. Granted, I never saw Lloyd pull a Roy Williams and jump out of bounds a yard shy of a first down just to avoid a hit. But think about guys like Deion Branch, Kevin Faulk, Troy Brown… guys who always that were never afraid to fight for an extra few yards when it was needed. In that sense, how much do you really think of Brandon Lloyd as a Patriot?
Per Greg Bedard and the Globe Lloyd has $3 million coming to him if the Pats decide to pick up his option for another season. If he’s not committed to extending plays more often, I don’t think you’ll find too many people in tears if they just let him walk.
Unless Belichick has a super secret Irving Fryar Frankenstein project stashed away in the basement I think the cupboard is bare. The WR depth on this team is mainly Julian Edelman, and 7th round pick Jeremy Ebert i.e. Welker clones. I don’t want to say Lloyd can’t improve on his faults, but you’re asking a 9 year veteran to change the way he plays the game.
This draft class is absolutely overflowing with fast, physical, capable wide receivers. Just to name a few:
- Justin Hunter (Tennessee) – Hunter is 6’4″ 200 lbs. After tearing his ACL his junior year he didn’t have the same straight line speed the next year, but made up for it by running more routes across the middle of the field. He’s a very impressive, underrated prospect.
- Terrence Williams (Baylor) – Williams is 6’2″ 205 and looks like he’s about 220 at times. Not to mention he put up over 1,800 yards as soon as Kendall Wright and Josh Gordon left town.
- Da’Rick Rodgers (Tenn. Tech) – Rogers is 6’3″ 215 lbs and will come at a big value after being kicked off the Vols roster after a huge sophomore year.
- DeAndre Hopkins (Clemson) – I’m a huge Hopkins fan and I make no secret about it. He reminds me a lot of Lloyd in that he’s a freak and can make difficult catches look easy. He’s not the biggest or fastest wideout but he’s a great route runner and a gutsy ballplayer.
- Markus Davis (Virginia Tech) – Davis is a physical freak at 6’4″ 230 # and he can still make plays on go routes. The Pats always scope out guys like this but rarely pull the trigger.
There are some very capable and occasionally affordable receivers that are scheduled to hit the market this year. None of their names begin with “Jabar” or end in “Stallworth.” I think if you really start looking at this free agent WR group for an end-all-be-all solution you’re going to be more disappointed than you expected.
- Mike Wallace (Steelers)- You’re going to hear people kicking and screaming for the Pats to go after Mike Wallace. Why? He drops too many passes and has a limited skillset as far as route running. On top of that Miami basically has to sign him. If they can’t sign a high-priced free agent to come in and lay an egg then the orange harvest turns to ashes. Everyone knows that.
- Dwayne Bowe (Chiefs)- You’re going to hear people kicking and screaming for the Pats to go after Dwayne Bowe. He’s big, fast, and makes for a nice mid-round fantasy pick. But do you really watch him play? I know it does’t sound like much of a task but he made Matt Cassel look like a moron on the regular. He had a knack for being in the wrong place in clutch situations and causing interceptions.
- Greg Jennings (Packers) – You’re going to hear people kicking and screaming for the Pats to go after Greg Jennings. I wish targeting a talented big name expensive wideout that hasn’t played 16 games in 2 years and already has a Super Bowl ring was as exciting a prospect to me as it is to everyone else. I wish I had no idea that The Big Bang Theory wasn’t the Heath Shuler of sitcoms but these are things I have to live with.
- Brandon Gibson (Rams) – McDaniels worked with Gibson in St Louis. The results weren’t anything to write home about, but they gave Greg Salas a shot based off basically the same criteria. He was part of an on-going strategy in St. Louis to throw as many rotating above average receivers, coordinators, and coaches at Sam Bradford until he spontaneously develops into a great quarterback. It’s working out awesome.
- Doug Gabriel (Orlando Predators) – Gabriel worked with McDaniels in 2006 in his first year as offensive coordinator. And hey… he was #85 too. His history with McDaniels and the Patriots puts him on par with Jabar Gaffney and Donte Stallworth along with the fact that they’re all terrible and shouldn’t be in the NFL anymore.
Do you see where I’m going with this? Do you see where the next productive Patriots wideout needs to come from?Advertisements