The 5 o’clock club is published several times per week during the season, and aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.
Here are two random stats & thoughts for you:
- Logan Thomas led Washington in Week 1 targets (eight), and his rapport with QB Dwayne Haskins will be key against Arizona in another game that figures to include a lot of passes.
- The Cardinals’ defense has been the most generous when it comes to touchdowns surrendered to tight ends since 2019 (16 allowed, most in NFL).
My first blush reaction is amazement that there’s a defense in the NFL more susceptible to pass-receiving tight ends than Washington!
Reflecting further, I wonder if the 8 targets aimed at Logan Thomas were game specific or if they indicate a trend that is likely to continue. After all, I got the sense from all the training camp reporting that the coaches really liked Logan Thomas, despite whatever reservations some fans might’ve expressed. I’ve mentioned it before, but Logan Thomas was the only tight end (and one of the few players signed this year) who got any significant financial commitment from the team. Of course, Sean Davis can tell you what that’s worth when Ron Rivera is the coach.
Thomas pulled in 4 of his 8 targets for 37 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 — a pretty solid day at the office for most tight ends.
I went back to look at the 4 passes that didn’t connect to see if they told me anything about Thomas.
The first miss was on a 3rd & 2 with 9:34 left in the 2nd half. The TV broadcast actually replayed the route in slow motion — this was the crossing route where Thomas and McLaurin basically barely avoided a collision as the two tried to run through exactly the same spot. The near collision screwed up both their routes and Avonte Maddox nearly picked off the pass. I’m no X’s and O’s guy, but I’m aware that most route concepts don’t run two receivers at the same spot on the field, so somebody made a mistake. I looked like the 3 levels were supposed to be Sims deep, Terry in the middle and Logan short, probably either on the first down marker or just past it. I’m guessing that Thomas made the mental error and ran two yards too deep, but it is only a guess.
The second miss was easier to diagnose. With 5:34 left in the half, Dwayne targeted Thomas deep downfield, with the tight end coming back toward the ball. A good pass would have been a completion, but Haskins skipped the ball on the turf, a yard or two in front of the diving Thomas. This one was on the QB, not the TE.
With 10:01 left in the game, Haskins tried to hit Thomas on a long pass to the end zone. I don’t know if Thomas was out of position, if Haskins threw a bad ball, or if the young quarterback was just living for another play by throwing it away, but the ball sailed 3 yards over the tight end’s head — completely uncatchable by anyone on the field.
The all-22 is normally released on Wednesdays. It was released late this week, so I just got it on Friday. Someone in the comments asked to see this play on All-22. Here it is:
Posted by Bill Horgan on Friday, September 18, 2020
The last incompletion came with 3:33 left in the ball game, just prior to the final field goal of the game. Thomas ran up the field and turned around against man coverage; Haskins fired the ball in, but it was knocked away by the defender. There were three receivers on the route, including Thomas. All three were completely covered. I don’t think Thomas could have done any more on this play — there were three receivers all on the same yard line, with about 15 yards between them and 5 Eagles defensive backs to cover. It was just a dead play.
What I saw from the four missed connections was that Thomas didn’t do anything obviously egregious, like dropping a pass that hit him in the hands or sliding to the ground because of a ‘turf monster’. There was clearly a screw up on the route combination on one play, and Thomas seems a likely culprit for that. Two of the other three plays appear to be attributable to good defense, a bad throw, or both. The pass near the end zone could have been Thomas running the wrong route, but it seems more likely that Dwayne deliberately overthrew him to protect against a turnover or loss of yards.
Based on my mini-film study, I don’t see any obvious reason why the coaching staff or Dwayne Haskins would shy away from continuing to throw to Thomas. He had Washington’s only receiving TD on Sunday, he didn’t drop any passes, Haskins seems to like throwing to him, and he’s a big target.
You can see from the chart below that Thomas was clearly targeted primarily in the middle of the field, with Haskins trying to hit him three times within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage in the middle of the field. The long overthrow near the end zone was the sole target at 20+ yards. His 4 receptions were in 4 different areas, with one behind the LOS, one within 10 yards, and two over ten yards — in the middle and left thirds of the field.
Thomas earned PFF grades of 65.2 for receiving and 70.3 for pass blocking, indicating that he is not a liability. I’ve mentioned several times the sustained block he had on his man during Peyton Barber’s second TD run, which also effectively screened Maddox out of the play, meaning that Thomas accounted for two potential tacklers on that play.
You’ll get 4 looks at the touchdown run in the clip below. Thomas (No. 82) is blocking on the far right side of the play. Watching this clip, I feel like Logan Thomas deserves as much credit as anyone on the offense for the success of this play.
Posted by Bill Horgan on Thursday, September 17, 2020
The Cardinals, based on the statistic posted at the top of the article, have demonstrated a propensity to be beaten in the red zone by tight ends. Thomas has pulled in a 6-yard TD pas already this season; can he do something similar against the Cardinals?
Here’s a comparison of some PFF grades from Week 1.
This is PFF and a small sample size, but this would indicate that Dwayne may be under a bit less pressure this week. With more time to allow patterns to develop, he may throw more deep balls, which could mean more Terry McLaurin. Also, with less pressure, he may not be as drawn to the big target that Logan Thomas presents.
There’s also a good chance that the WFT run game will get more of a workout than Peyton Barber into the middle of the Eagles D a dozen times in an effort to kill the clock.
Of course, real film study may offer alternate explanations
In short, while I feel confident that Logan Thomas will continue to be a valuable part of the offense, I don’t expect him to attract 8 targets again this week
I’m setting the over/under for Logan Thomas targets at 4.5. What are you betting?
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I’m setting the over/under mark for Logan Thomas touchdowns in Week 2 at 0.5. What are you betting?
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Who gets the most receptions this week against the Cardinals?
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