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The 5 O’Clock Club: Let’s watch film - every Logan Thomas target against the Houston Texans in Week 11

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

NFL: Washington Commanders at Houston Texans
Washington Commanders tight end Logan Thomas (82) makes a reception during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The 5 o’clock club is published from time to time 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.

A lot of people spent the early part of the offseason calling for Logan Thomas to be released. In part, this was because of his significant cap hit — he’ll cost the team nearly $8.7m in cap space in 2023, and a further $8.3m in 2024. But I think fans also felt that Logan Thomas simply hadn’t recovered from his 2021 injury, and that he wasn’t really the same player that he’d been in 2020, when he had a career-best 72 catches for 670 yards and 6 TDs.

It’s true that Logan Thomas started out the ‘22 season looking very much like everything wasn’t quite right, and then he missed three games (Weeks 5-7) with another injury. I think that created an impression that Logan Thomas was ‘broken’ and that he would never be the same player who had helped carry the offense in Ron Rivera’s first season.

But, in the latter part of the ‘22 season, Thomas seemed to start to return to form. In Week 11, against the Houston Texans, he had his best game of the season, with 5 catches on 6 targets for 65 yards.

Today, I want to look at those 6 targets because I think they show a player who is all the way back.

Granted, the Texans didn’t have the toughest defense in the NFL last year; however, I’m not focused on just the yardage gained, but Thomas’ ability to control his body, secure the catch, and both take a hit and initiate contact. He looked good in this game.

If you want more evidence that Thomas wasn’t just padding his stats against a weak opponent, look at his production in the final 3 games of 2022, when he faced the 49ers, Browns and Cowboys. Thomas compiled 14 catches on 18 targets for 107 yards in those three games against teams that finished the season with a combined 32-15 record. The Niners and Cowboys, of course, both went to the NFC playoffs. If you use the stats for Logan Thomas in those 3 games to project a 17-game season, it would be 79 receptions for 606 yards, which would mirror his career-best 2020 season.

I initially planned to show Thomas’s targets against San Francisco in this article, but when I looked at them, all I saw in the Niners game was Thomas finding an opening in the zone, catching the ball and then being tackled immediately by a pair of defenders. Thomas did his job, and he finished with 6 catches on 8 targets, but all 6 catches are essentially the same type of play against a very good zone defense. Those 6 catches would have made for a very boring article.

Still, starting around Weeks 10 & 11 last season, Logan Thomas started looking like his old self.

During these final 7 games, he was on pace for 58 catches and 498 yards — a pace that picked up in the final 3 games.

I think the 6 targets in the Houston Texans game (shown in video form below) mark the beginning of Logan Thomas’ return to form — something that should give Commanders fans some confidence as the team heads into the season with a slightly depleted tight end group following the Achilles tendon injury suffered by 2nd-year tight end Armani Rogers.

Week 11 at the Texans - 5 catches, 65 yards

2nd quarter

1st & 10 at HOU 26 yard line

Early in the 2nd quarter, with Washington driving, Heinicke hits Logan Thomas on an out-breaking route on the left side of the field. Thomas does a good job securing the catch with two hands just as he is contacted by the defender, and squeezing the ball as he runs out of bounds for 16-yard gain and a first down.

2nd quarter

2nd & 5 at WAS 44 yard line

The Texans bring a late blitz, and Heinicke hits Logan Thomas in-stride across the middle of the field. Thomas turns it up for a 19-yard gain, and secures the ball with both hands before the tackle.

2nd quarter

3rd & goal at HOU 7 yard line

With a better pass from Heinicke, this would have been a touchdown. Logan Thomas is lined up at the top of the screen, and he simply runs a route to the back corner of the end zone where Taylor Heinicke puts the pass about 18 inches too high and probably without enough air under it. The ball skips off of Thomas’s outstretched fingers.

2nd quarter

2nd & 1 at HOU 45 yard line

This is the play that told me that Logan Thomas was returning to his pre-injury form. On 2nd & 1, Taylor Heinike throws a ball 17 yards down the left side of the field. Thomas has to leave his feet and fully extend his 6’6” frame to snatch the ball out of the air and come down with a rolling catch.

2nd quarter

1st & 10 at HOU 11 yard line

This is pretty classic tight end usage. Thomas is aligned outside the right tackle. At the snap, he drives out on the linebacker and pushes him back a couple of yards, then breaks outside, turns around and catches the pass from Heinicke. Thomas immediately turns towards the goal line and plows over two tacklers for a 5-yard gain.

3rd quarter

1st & 10 at WAS 42 yard line

Logan Thomas is lined up at the top of the screen. The other tight end, John Bates, is lined up at the bottom. At the snap, Bates comes across the back of the formation to block, but the Texans defender runs right through him to pressure Heinicke, who immediately takes the dump off pass to Logan Thomas, who had lightly chipped the same defender before moving out to the right. The defender plays the ball and misses, so Thomas, after catching the pass, turns upfield. At the 48-yard line, he lowers his shoulder to initiate contact and ends up with an 8-yard gain at midfield.

Leading 17-3 at this point (in a game that would end at 23-10) the Commanders turned primarily to the running game to eat up time, and Thomas was not targeted for the remainder of the game.


How confident are you in Logan Thomas as the starting tight end for the Commanders this season?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    5 - Extremely confident
    (25 votes)
  • 35%
    4 - Very confident
    (70 votes)
  • 39%
    3 - I’m okay
    (78 votes)
  • 10%
    2 - I’m a little concerned
    (21 votes)
  • 2%
    1 - I’m not confident at all
    (5 votes)
199 votes total Vote Now