When people think of Julius Thomas they think of the success he had in Denver three seasons ago, that is why the Dolphins traded for Thomas this offseason. However, Dolphins fans should not expect that from their new tight end in 2017.
We all know the struggle Miami has had at the tight end position over the last few years. Ever since Charles Clay left, the Dolphins haven’t had a TE threat for Tannehill to throw to down the seams or in the red zone.
Julius Thomas was brought in to fix that problem. The Dolphins gave Jacksonville a seventh-round pick in exchange for Thomas, who is now signed with the Dolphins for the next two years.
Just bringing Thomas to the Dolphins generated a lot of hype around Miami. After all, the 6’4, 251 lb tight end did have his best two years in the league under Adam Gase, who was the offensive coordinator in Denver for the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
But let’s take a closer look at those two seasons for Thomas, and compare his numbers to Charles Clay. And I am choosing Clay because he is the most productive tight end the Dolphins have had in the last eight years.
Thomas: 65 rec, 788 yds, 12.1 Y/R (yards per reception), 12 TD, 4.6 R/G (receptions per game)
Clay: 69 rec, 759 yds, 11.0 Y/R, 6 TD, 4.3 R/G
Thomas: 43 rec, 489 yds, 11.4 Y/R, 12 TD, 3.3 R/G
Clay: 58 rec, 605 yds, 10.4 Y/R, 3 TD, 4.1 R/G
The one statistic that stands out is obviously the touchdown numbers. Thomas was phenomenal in the red zone. Other than that, Clay matched Thomas in every other important category.
My point is, Dolphins fans have seen what a productive tight end can do, his name is Charles Clay and Miami didn’t think it was necessary to keep Clay at the end of the 2014 season.
And what Thomas did with Gase in 2013 and 2014 was score. He was a touchdown machine for the Broncos and Peyton Manning’s go-to guy inside the 20. But it’s pretty easy to score when a guaranteed Hall-of-Famer is throwing you the football.
The 2015 version of Julius Thomas is who Dolphins fans should hope for, because quite frankly that is more realistic. In his first season in Jacksonville, Thomas caught 46 passes for 455 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Just because Ryan Tannehill is better than Blake Bortles, does not mean Thomas’ productivity will be better than what it was with Bortles in 2015. The quarterback and tight end do not have any chemistry together, and even though that is what training camp is for, good chemistry takes time.
And let’s not forget that Julius Thomas has never played a full season in his six year career. That in itself is worrisome, you cannot be productive if you are not on the field.
Thomas was brought to Miami to give Tannehill a big guy to throw to in the red zone. However, it is not realistic to think he is going to provide 12 touchdowns this season, or ever again in his career.
Dolphins fans, you can get your hopes up, but I advise you to keep your expectations low.