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Another look at Logan Thomas on the all-22 film vs the Bengals

Logan Thomas has had to play the role of the Washington starting tight end. This off-season, Washington passed on the possibility of signing higher profile free agents like Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen, Eric Ebron or Austin Hooper, and they released Richard Rodgers, who went back to the Eagles, and Hale Hentges, who went back to the Indianapolis Colts.

With Thad Moss going to IR, that pretty much left Logan Thomas as “the man” at tight end. Fans seem to be divided about whether he’s been good enough. Some obvious mistakes on his part haven’t helped, but, like many players, he does a lot in Scott Turner’s offense that doesn’t seem to get noticed.

Dropping the ball

There seems to be a consensus that Thomas is an adequate TE2, but not so much of a starting caliber NFL tight end. He has had a few high-profile plays in the passing game that have been a mix of good and bad. This week, he had a horrible drop against the Bengals that came on first down on a drive that stalled quickly; the drop was an ugly one that hit him in the hands. It was highlighted by Mark Tyler in his Studs & Duds article as well as in the subsequent Tyler’s Takes.

Here it is again:

Blocking

In Tyler’s Takes, Mark paired this with the Antonio Gibson touchdown run in which Thomas had a key block off of pre-snap motion that helped open the huge running lane for Gibson.

I watched the entire Bengals game, and Thomas had many good blocks, but that was his best block of the day.

In the clip below, Thomas is lined up as an in-line blocker beside Morgan Moses on the left side. This block against 280-pound Armani Bledsoe isn’t pretty; after all, Thomas gets pushed back from the beginning of the play to the end, but Thomas “wins” the down because he keeps the hole open long enough for Antonio Gibson to make a nice gain on this 1st & goal play. Armani, incidentally, is the guy that Thomas hit on the ‘wham’ block in the previous tweet above.

Posted by Bill Horgan on Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The block below on Sam Hubbard is far from a thing of beauty, but it is effective. This time Thomas is lined up outside the right tackle.

Posted by Bill Horgan on Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Here’s a pretty good block on a linebacker to spring J.D. McKissic for a nice gain.

Posted by Bill Horgan on Thursday, November 26, 2020

Finally, here’s another decent effort coming across the formation on a 13-yard Antonio Gibson run:

Posted by Bill Horgan on Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thomas seems to be at his best blocking on the defensive end as he comes across the backside of the formation.

I watched him block a lot in this all-22 review. I saw him in-line next to the tackle where he is a bit inconsistent; at times blocking his man to the ground and at times just “getting in the way”. I saw him blocking downfield a bit (not much) on linebackers or defensive backs. A couple of times his downfield efforts probably helped a ball carrier get an extra couple of yards, but this isn’t his strength or his role in the offense. I saw him, once, throw his body horizontally at the legs of a defensive end. He didn’t really make contact, but his guy didn’t make the play either.

And that’s how I would describe Thomas’ blocking skills overall — adequate. He rarely masters the player he is blocking, but I never saw him whiff, and in 60 minutes against the Bengals, I never saw Thomas miss his block to allow his man to make the tackle. As a former offensive lineman myself, I’d say that Logan Thomas is more effort than skill, but his effort — at least against the Bengals — seemed to be good enough to keep his man out of the play on just about every play.

Fighting for yards

I wanted, too, to highlight a play from Thomas that didn’t get much attention from anyone during or after the game that I’m aware of.

Here it is:

Posted by Bill Horgan on Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Notice that Thomas makes a simple catch, but then fights for 5 or 6 extra yards, turning this short 1-yard pass into a 7-yard gain.

Why is this a play that I think deserves to be noticed?

Well, this was a second-down play. The following play was an incomplete pass, and on 4th down, Dustin Hopkins successfully kicked a 50-yard field goal. Had Logan Thomas not fought his way down the sideline, Hopkins likely would have faced a distance of 55 yards or longer. Given how inaccurate the kicker has been of late, the coaches might’ve sent Tress Way on to punt, or Hopkins might have missed from the longer distance, which would have given the Bengals attractive field position at the 40 yard line, trailing by just 8 points with about 11 minutes left in the game.

Instead, Hopkins made this kick, extending the lead to 11 points — two scores — to give the Football Team some breathing room.

This play by Thomas was one of the “invisible” plays where his extra effort and success helped add points to the board, putting the game a little further out of reach for Cincinnati.

Helping out Alex Smith

Of course, with Alex’s leg, having him drive through a couple of tons of offensive and defensive linemen isn’t the most attractive option for Washington coaches, so they have to think a bit creatively. On Sunday, against Cincinnati, this is the Logan Thomas quarterback sneak off of TE motion on 3rd & 2 that earned the first down, and which came just two plays before his “wham” block helped open that lane for the Gibson TD run.

Posted by Bill Horgan on Wednesday, November 25, 2020

If the offense hadn’t converted this first down, the drive would have stalled and ended with a field goal attempt, so this play by Thomas led to an additional 4 points on the scoreboard. He didn’t do it alone by any means, but he carried the ball, and the play was a significant contribution to the winning effort.

Bottom line

I’ve paid a lot of attention to Logan Thomas this season — partly because I wasn’t a fan of the signing and thought we needed a better tight end on the roster. Personally, I’ve seen more good than bad, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that I think Thomas is a “plus” on offense. He’s an adequate blocker and an average pass catcher (for a tight end) who seems to know the offense and his assignments. He’s an “effort” player who never takes a play off, and he frequently makes it a point to help his teammate up after a tackle (not a big deal, but the kind of thing you notice watching all-22).

Logan Thomas clearly isn’t among the elite tight ends of the NFL, but he fills his role very well. He dropped an easy pass against the Bengals, and it wasn’t the first drop he’s had this season, but he does a lot of good things on the field, and my guess is that he’s a good teammate too.

To my surprise, I like having this guy on the Football Team.