By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts Brandon Booster
Brandon Lloyd turned 30 years old on Tuesday, the age when most receivers start thinking about post-football career choices.
But Lloyd must have been thinking that it's about time a labor deal gets signed, because for the first time in a long career he's a hot property.
It was easy to dismiss the Denver receiver's 2010 season as fluky. When a guy comes out of nowhere to finish with 77 catches, 1,448 yards, an 18.8 YPC average and 11 touchdowns, well, there's some splainin' to do.
There were many amazing oddities on the way for Lloyd.
- He started only 11 of 16 games.
- His previous best season was 48-733-5.
- He almost matched his career touchdown total (15) from a seven-year pro career that included 48 starts.
- He did it for a team that employed two head coaches and two starting quarterbacks.
- He wasn't even in the top 100 wideouts on the preseason fantasy lists.
- He was Brandon Frigging Lloyd.
How rare was his production?
According to the pro-football-reference.com
search engine, in the Super Bowl era, only four other players managed to finish with 75+ catches, 1,400+ yards, an average of 18 yards per catch or better and 10+ touchdowns.
- 1984: Roy Green, St. Louis Cardinals (78-1,555-19.9-12)
- 1986: Jerry Rice, San Francisco 49ers (86-1,570-18.3-15)
- 1989: Jerry Rice, San Francisco 49ers (82-1,483-18.1-17)
- 2000: Randy Moss, Minnesota Vikings (77-1,437-18.7-15)
Still, maybe the most remarkable part about his season was that it came for a team that wasn't very good offensively.
Denver finished 4-12 because of a defense that was just incredibly bad, giving up 29.4 points a game and allowing eight of its last 12 opponents to top 400 yards.
But the offense was very pedestrian as well, ranking 19th in points and 13th in yards. A look at those four other seasons from history shows that Lloyd was a much bigger part of his offense.
- 1984 Roy Green: Cardinals amass 6,345 yards and 423 points
- 1986 Jerry Rice: 49ers, 6,082 yards, 374 points
- 1989 Jerry Rice: 49ers, 6,268 yards, 442 points
- 2000 Randy Moss: Vikings, 5,961 yards, 397 points
- 2010 Lloyd: Broncos, 5,582 yards, 344 points
The other Broncos wideouts averaged 11.8 yards per catch – a full seven yards a grab behind Lloyd. He was also the only Broncos player with at least 10 offensive touches that didn't fumble and, according to Stats Inc., dropped only four passes thrown his way.
So, was it a fluke?
Probably. There are an awful lot of factors working against him for 2011, not including labor woes.
He did most of his damage in the second half of games in 2010 as the Broncos more often than not were battling from behind. He had 928 of his 1,448 yards in the second half, 64 percent of his total, and seven of his 11 touchdowns.
He was also doing it for a Josh McDaniels offense that dropped back to pass 38.8 times a game, seventh-most in the league. When Eric Studesville took over for the last four games, Lloyd had only 1 touchdown and 253 yards as Tim Tebow got the QB call for the last three.
Now, it'll be John Fox for 2011; his Panthers averaged 33.4 dropbacks last year (25th), and it was only that high because the team was so bad that they simply had to throw. His Panthers ranked in the bottom 10 in pass attempts year in and year out. Add in the fact that Tebow is likely to take the starting quarterback job, Lloyd's age, improving competition in the AFC West and a tougher non-conference scheduling draw and ...
Well, he'll always have that fantastic 2010.