By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs held a closed-door meeting yesterday with wide receiver Brandon Lloyd and said the results of a second meeting that is likely to be held today could determine whether Lloyd is active for Sunday's home game against Philadelphia.
It is unclear exactly what events prompted the meeting, but Redskins sources said a series of incidents over the season have caught Gibbs's attention.
One public incident came in the final minutes of Sunday's 24-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons and prompted Gibbs to bench Lloyd for disciplinary reasons. With 2 minutes 40 seconds remaining, Lloyd was flagged for a 15-yard personal foul for throwing his helmet after the Atlanta Falcons intercepted a pass from quarterback Jason Campbell. Lloyd was later seen shouting on the sidelines. He did not play the final series of the game.
"There are a number of things with Brandon. I'm going to meet with him [today], and I think there are some issues there that we need to get straightened out," Gibbs said, adding that the meeting would affect his decision about whether Lloyd will be active Sunday. "I think that's something we'll have go through and try to decide."
Gibbs mentioned his discussion with Lloyd during a news conference in which he also announced the release of kicker Nick Novak and attempted to assuage fears that the lack of success this season could lead to him to decide not to return as head coach next year.
"There is no equivocation in that. I plan on going forward and being the coach again next year," Gibbs said. "As long as I feel like this where I'm supposed to be, I'm going to be here. My situation is the contract I signed." Gibbs even returned after the news conference to reiterate his intention to remain in Washington.
Gibbs signed a five-year contract when he came out of retirement to return to the team in January 2004.
But his primary message concerned Lloyd, who has produced arguably the most disappointing season of any player on the offense. After being acquired in a trade with San Francisco last offseason, Lloyd signed a six-year, $30 million contract with $10 million guaranteed -- a salary level reserved for only the elite wide receivers in the league. He has caught only 20 passes for 295 yards and no touchdowns through 12 games and is on pace for 27 catches and 393 yards for the season. On Sunday, he caught two passes for 26 yards.
Lloyd caught 48 passes for 733 yards and five touchdowns last season with the 49ers.
It was also clear, according to Redskins sources, that Gibbs is convinced that Sunday's tantrum was not an isolated incident. Lloyd was shouting on the sidelines during the 36-22 loss on Oct. 22 to Indianapolis. During that game, wide receiver Antwaan Randle El appeared to try to calm Lloyd.
"I think with Brandon, there is the helmet issue during the game and I think we had a good talk today," Gibbs said. "I think he's a bright young guy. He's got a good future with us. I just want to make sure that me and him are on the same page going forward. And I gave him some things to think about and I'll talk with him [again today]. So there's no reason for me to think that we're not going to see eye-to-eye when we get through talking."
By contrast, Redskins punter Derrick Frost was flagged for a personal foul for removing his helmet while yelling at officials in the Indianapolis game, but Frost was not disciplined for the next game.
Lloyd was brought to the Redskins in a March trade that the Redskins believed would alleviate their lack of production from the No. 2 wide receiver position. Last year, a season-ending knee injury to David Patten left the Redskins without a second wide receiver, and the offensive imbalance placed added pressure on Santana Moss.
But this season, Lloyd has been healthy for every game and yet has been one of the least productive receivers in the league. Only the Oakland Raiders and the Redskins do not have a touchdown from both starting wide receivers.
"I think he's a real good outside lane guy," Gibbs said of Lloyd. "I think he does those things extremely well."
Worse than his inability to be a consistent contributor to the offense has been his lack of big plays -- he has made just two. The first was a 52-yard catch from Mark Brunell that spurred a comeback in an eventual 25-22 loss to Tennessee on Oct. 15, and the second was a block Nov. 5 against Dallas that sprung Clinton Portis for a 38-yard touchdown.
Instead, Lloyd's season has been marked more for being largely uninvolved in the offense and he has stood out for two big mistakes: a crucial fumble Oct. 1 against Jacksonville that allowed the Jaguars to come back in a game the Redskins won in overtime, and a drop of Jason Campbell's first NFL pass, a 50-yard strike at Tampa on Nov. 19 that would have been a sure touchdown.
By contrast, Moss returned from a hamstring injury and caught a 42-yard touchdown pass Sunday that was a study in individual effort. Moss outfought two Atlanta defenders for the ball and gave the Redskins a 14-0 lead. Acrobatic, downfield plays such as Moss's were what the Redskins anticipated when they acquired Lloyd for two draft picks from San Francisco.
"I think certainly playmakers make their presence felt," Gibbs said. "Like Santana, that was a play where Jason threw the ball and it was a jump ball, and the guy made a play. So from that standpoint, yes, the guy made a play. The other part of it is scheme-wise, I hope we would do a better job getting that deep pass. I think it's been disappointing for all of us. It's one of the reasons why we are where we are."