On Sunday against the Dolphins, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw the football 40 times. Of those 40 attempts, 18 went the way of Wes Welker, 13 the way of Aaron Hernandez, even three went the way of Julian Edelman. But for veteran receiver Brandon Lloyd? One. One throw went his way the entire afternoon, and it was a beautiful sideline catch for 10 yards.
But still? One target? Raise your hand if you were concerned by the lack of involvement for Brandon Lloyd - I know I was. But what was the reason behind Lloyd being a non-factor against the Phins?
To answer that question, we'll take at the explanation Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels offered reporters during his press conference today:
I think that's really a function of a lot of things. Brandon certainly played hard and has played hard all year. There have been games where we've targeted him a lot. And there have been other games where based on the way somebody may play us, we target him less and the ball may go somewhere else. I think Brandon keeps doing his job and trying to execute his assignments well. We've never been a team that likes to force the ball to one person or another, although it may seem like that at times because certainly players get targeted more in certain games. Really, the biggest emphasis point we try to make to our group is to try to find the guy who's open or who the defense doesn't take away and to get him the football. Tom usually does a good job of that. Yesterday, certainly, he didn't have a lot of action in the passing game, but hopefully that will change, or could change, based on the way we get defended. He's done a good job of running good routes and getting open and being available when his opportunities present themselves. He'll continue to do that; I know him. And hopefully we call things that give him an opportunity to get the ball, and then when that's really where we should go with it, hopefully Tom finds him and we connect.
Okay, so that's not much more than the "gameplan changes week to week response." And honestly, I'm not feeling much better about the situation.
Brandon Lloyd is a legitimate deep threat, and offers the Patriots a skillset that no other receiver on the roster can match. Through 12 games this season, we've been treated to some of the unique abilities that Lloyd has. That being said, there were times that Lloyd struggled in his chemistry with Tom Brady, where things just seemed to be a tad "off" between the two earlier in the year. I thought they'd work through those growing pains, but instead, it appears the team has decided to go away from him.
There are still four weeks to go in the regular season, which I see as plenty of time to get Lloyd involved. Having an involved Lloyd will make the Patriots' offense so much more dynamic. But he has to be more involved to make that happen, and one target per game isn't going to cut it.