Julius Thomas was the big free agent splash that Jacksonville Jaguars fans had been waiting for for years. He’s the massive tight end to finally replace the lackluster Marcedes Lewis and give the Jaguars a legitimate receiving threat at the position.
Unfortunately, the big-play receiving tight end couldn’t take the field until Week 5 of the 2015 season due to his hand injury suffered in the preseason. When he did return, he was lackluster.
The Jaguars managed to lose to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-38 despite a strong-performing offense. Quarterback Blake Bortles looked particularly impressive. He did so without relying on Julius Thomas, who was expected to be a focal point for the offense.
Bortles targeted second-year receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns a combined 15 times on Sunday, resulting in 188 yards and three touchdowns. Both Robinson and Hurns are turning into impressive receivers and can be relied upon.
Julius Thomas, in contrast, was only targeted twice. He caught both passes for 20 yards.
That’s hardly the impact that the Jacksonville Jaguars thought they would be getting out of a stud tight end. It’s hardly the impact many of us anticipated.
There isn’t anything wrong with catching 100 percent of the passes thrown your way. There also isn’t anything wrong with a quarterback targeting his two most productive play-makers over a tight end who just returned from injury. This isn’t Thomas’s fault or anything.
It just begins to make you wonder. Thomas was certainly the big free agent signing we all wanted, but was he necessarily the big free agent signing that the Jaguars really needed?
As a receiver, Thomas is among the best tight ends in the NFL. As a complete player, including a strong blocker he has room to grow. He’s young and can still improve. If he isn’t going to be as big of a part in the passing game as anticipated, however, will this signing pay off?
Pro Football Focus has Thomas graded as the 22nd ranked tight end for Week 5 with a negative .3 grade. That isn’t terrible, but it isn’t spectacular either. The Jaguars expect Thomas to be among the best each and every week. Grading around 22nd is lackluster.
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