Brandon Lloyd ran the wrong route.
In a teleconference Friday afternoon after he signed a one-year contract with the Bears, Lloyd was asked how the quarterback situation was explained to him.
``Rex Grossman is the starter. Coach Ron Turner and coach Lovie [Smith] think very highly of him, and Kyle Orton, they think very highly of him also. I think that as a receiver, it’s really our jobs to make those guys look good and it’s their job to make us look good too. It’s just going to be a hand-in-hand relationship maybe I could say for all of us to get better because I think that’s really what it comes down to. We are really at a pivotal point in our careers where we really need to lean on each other and help each other out to really become what we want to become in this league.”
Oops. So much for the Great QB Battle of 2008. And we thought Grossman and Orton received nearly identical contract extensions last month with identical bonus money for a reason.
The follow-up question was who told Lloyd, who played for Turner at Illinois and met with coaches in Halas Hall before the call on Friday, that Grossman was the man?
``I mean, that’s what I’m assuming. Rex Grossman.
``Orton and Grossman signed one-year deals, I figured maybe Grossman was the starter. Open competition is what I’m being told right now.”
Talk about a mixup at the line of scrimmage. After one more question, Turner got on the phone and worked as fast as he could to straighten out the matter.
``I just listened to part of that and Brandon said that he assumed it was going to be Rex. I just want to clarify that before we got going. You guys know the situation. It’s an open competition. Both guys have been told that. When I talked to Brandon about the quarterback situation, I talked about both guys, about Rex Grossman and Kyle. I feel we’ve got two guys that can get the ball to all of our receivers. So again I just want to start with that and we’ll go from there.”
Conspiracy theorists, you have been armed.
If you can get beyond that, the signing makes sense for the Bears. Lloyd produced next to nothing in Washington where he caught all of 25 passes after getting a $10 million signing bonus in 2006. A poster child for all that is wrong with the Redskins’ free-agent moves, at least in the past, Lloyd will count $5.5 million against Washington’s 2009 salary cap. He had a bumpy beginning there and it never improved. He suffered a broken collarbone in November.
That’s why he’s got everything to play for in coming to the Bears and working with his former coach with a one-year deal that can land him right back in free agency. He’s got top-end speed and is a sharp route runner. He can go up in the air to make plays. At 6-foot, 200 pounds, he never fit into Al Saunders’ offense where smaller receivers like Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El were preferred. He’s a good option to mix with Mark Bradley and Devin Hester as the Bears look to pair someone with Marty Booker, and in that bunch he has a unique skill set.
If attitude and behavior are an issue, the Bears can rid themselves of him quickly.
His former college quarterback took up for him Friday afternoon.
``I think he can help the Bears right away,’’ said Kurt Kittner, also an ex-Bear. ``He is better suited for Turner’s system and obviously he knows it. There’s really no reason for him not to be successful. It’s a great fit for the Bears and for Brandon.’’
Kittner and Lloyd got together at the Rose Bowl in January, but Kittner said he didn’t have any insight as to how Lloyd’s reputation was tarnished in stops in San Francisco and Washington.
``He really hasn’t been in position to shine,’’ Kittner said. ``He’s been with teams where they didn’t use him for his abilities. All I know is he does a great job of going up and getting the ball and that’s something you can’t coach. We can’t say what happened in the past because we weren’t there. Just looking at it with an outsider’s perspective, Washington’s offense was suited to smaller, more scat receivers. I think Brandon fits with the Bears.’’