People in Boston already are beginning to use Brandon Lloyd's performance in Sunday's game against the Dolphins, where he was targeted one time and made one reception, as evidence the veteran wide receiver is being phased out of the New England Patriots' offense.
But offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels warned Monday that one game shouldn't be taken as a sign of things to come. Lloyd may have falloen out of the game plan this week -- one likely reason being that Dolphins CB Sean Smith covered him for most of the afternoon -- but he'll likely be back next week.
“We've never been a team that likes to force the ball to one person or another, though it may seem like that at times because certainly players get targeted more in certain games,” McDaniels said. “Really, the biggest emphasis point we try to make to our group is try to find the guy who's open or who the defense doesn't take away and to get him the football.”
In other words, Lloyd was taken away Sunday and WR Wes Welker (12 catches, 103 yards) and TE Aaron Hernandez (8 for 97) weren't. However, Julian Edelman played in front of Lloyd in a few two-receiver sets.
But the numbers in the previous five games should prove there isn't a sinister plot brewing beneath the surface. In those contests, Lloyd was targeted 30 times. That figure pales next to Welker's 49 targets, but considering that Welker is the third-most targeted receiver in the NFL, that statement will typically be true after every game.
Beside, Tom Brady still is in Lloyd's corner, and that's as important as anything in New England.
“You can't come out of the game targeting him one time,” Brady said during an interview on Boston radio station WEEI. “I've got to do a better job of distributing the ball to him. … He's a very integral part of what we do, and he's worked really hard over the course of the season, and I've got to do a better job of getting him the ball. I don't think there's any question about that."