NFL's Best WR: Michael Thomas is about Action, not Talk
Kyle T. Mosley
NFL analysts, players, and some fans assume Saints superstar WR Michael Thomas is a product of QB Drew Brees or HC Sean Payton's offensive scheme. However, their opinions couldn't be further from the truth.
The reigning 2019 AP Offensive Player of the Year had a monstrous statistical season. 149 receptions. 1,725 yards receiving. All-Pro honors. Yet, through all of his achievements, off-handed slights, sarcastic posts/tweets, and put-downs have been hurled at Thomas' direction this offseason.
Facts? Or, Jealousy? Let's take a look.
Last season, Thomas was fortunate to have had two solid quarterbacks to throw passes to him in Drew Brees and Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater started five games in place of an injured Drew Brees. Brees started eleven games, but exited in the first quarter of the L.A. Rams contest, DT Aaron Donald snapped Drew's right-thumb ligament. Hence, we could throw-out the Rams game and factor in only ten starts in the regular season for Brees.
Comparing Thomas' receiving percentage with both Brees and Bridgewater in 2019, Brees-Thomas was 80.83%, and Bridgewater-Thomas was 80.77%. Mostly, mathematicians would round both connections numbers to 80.8%. Dead even. Although Bridgewater had a smaller statistical sampling, five games were more than a quarter of regular-season games to evaluate his performance. Therefore, DeAndre Hopkins' theory of Thomas being a product of Drew Brees is unfounded. Thomas would be an outstanding receiver with most quarterbacks. DeVante Parker questioned Thomas for the volume of his targets, which allowed his considerable numbers in 2019.
The first goal for a wideout is to catch the football. It should not matter if you had the most accurate passer in NFL history, throwing you the football or not. It helps, but it should never be the overriding factor as a receiver. Thomas had 185 targets and caught the football at an 80.5% rate. The next WR close to Thomas was Keenan Allen (Chargers), with 149 targets at a 69.8% rate, and DeAndre Hopkins (Texans) had 150 targets for 69.3%. Julio Jones (Falcons) had 149 targets for a rate of 63.1% and DeVante Parker (Dolphins) at paltry 56.3% rate on 128 targets. The bottom line is this, Thomas catches the footballs thrown to him at a higher rate than anyone in the NFL. It did not matter if Drew Brees or Teddy Bridgewater was highly effective and efficient, Michael Thomas caught the balls in his vicinity.
Receivers (NFL Rank)
Michael Thomas (1)
Keenan Allen (3)
DeAndre Hopkins (4)
Julio Jones (6)
DeVante Parker (31)
For Hopkins, Jones, Parker, or any pundit to make a case against Thomas, due to the higher volume of targets is a non-factor. All of these professionals still had an opportunity to catch what QB Deshaun Watson, QB Matt Ryan, and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick tossed their direction. Whether or not the passes were errant, dropped, or miscommunication can become factors; but also, those elements can become excuses.
Great athletes take advantage of the opportunities gifted to them. Michael Thomas doesn't have to be sorrowful that he plays with a great quarterback in Drew Brees. He still has to make full use of his talent through study, hard work, and focused commitment to his profession. I am not a Michael Thomas apologist. The fact is, Thomas currently sits at the top spot. He is the best wide receiver in the NFL. It's up to Jones, Hopkins, Allen, Parker, or another receiver to claim the spot in 2020. It won't be via an interview, tweet, post, or boastful talk. Only by action.
Just like "Can't Guard Mike!"