It is not often that a receiver who catches 105 receptions for 1,304 gets criticized for having a down year, but that hasn't stopped people from doubting Broncos' wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.
Some have criticized his effort, others even questioned his mental toughness. Additionally, several talking heads in the media floated the thought that Thomas was distracted with the news that President Barack Obama had commuted his mother's sentence.
Thomas admitted on SiriusXM NFL Radio that some of those things weighed on his mind during the course of the season and above all else, he was thinking too much. Moreover, he believes his absence from OTA's and minicamp during his holdout over a new contract helped contribute to any perceived hiccups he endured last year.
"A couple of those games, I had some drops that I should not even (have) had. And I was thinking too much. I don’t know why I was thinking too much." said Thomas in his exclusive interview with SiriusXM radio. "I think it was just wanting to be great for my teammates, but I think that bothered me as well."
Undoubtedly, Thomas struggled to get in a rhythm for a decent portion of the season. While he amassed some big numbers, the big plays as far as touchdowns and yards after the catch just weren't what they used to be. Most notably, he disappeared in the playoff stretch and had a propensity for ill-timed drops that killed drives and stalled the Broncos offense, something that was very out of character for the veteran receiver entering his seventh year in the NFL.
"Some of those drops I had, they could have been real big plays for us. They could have made our offense look even better. I don’t beat myself up about that (anymore)," said Thomas. "I beat myself up about it; I ain’t going to worry it no more. We’ve always got something to work on and I’ve been working on it and I look forward to this year."
The article I linked to above (courtesy of NumberFire), delves into some the statistical anomalies from Thomas last year and theorizes on several other issues that may have impacted his play. It is an article worth your time that has some fantastic in-depth analysis.
Overall, in six years with the team, Thomas is on pace to break all the Broncos receiving records and has already amassed 456 catches for 6,621 yards and 47 touchdowns in his young career. When it is all said and done and Thomas finally hangs up his cleats years down the road, it is likely that he will be considered the greatest receiver the team has ever had, perhaps even being one of the best receivers the game has ever seen.
I fully expect Thomas to revert to his former self and show his big play ability, especially with accumulating yards after the catch and work on his concentration.
However, it is important to note that it takes more than just a high-profile receiver to make those plays. Whoever is throwing him the ball this season will have to do a much better job than what we witnessed for a majority of last season if we hope to see Thomas' play improve as well.
All the bests to Thomas making the most of his 2016 campaign and having his best season as a pro to date. We are rooting for you, Demaryius!