Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell held a press conference at the 2017 NFL Combine on Thursday and it was, well, kind of all over the map. He talked about Doug Marrone’s time in Buffalo, praised Blake Bortles, broke down the linebacker situation...
And reflected on Julius Thomas and his underwhelming time here in Jacksonville.
ESPN’s Mike DiRocco has a good breakdown of the Thomas section of Caldwell’s press conference, so check it out here if you want to read everything. But one point Caldwell continually made grabbed my attention — Thomas’ fit with the Jaguars offense.
"I don't think anything went wrong. I think when he played he performed at a fairly high level," Caldwell said. "I don't think [it] just ever clicked with him and our offense ... We went through, myself and the coaching staff, went through and we pulled out the plays of him in Denver and we looked at our stuff, too, and felt like he did [look the same]. There wasn't much difference of a skill set from when we got him."
It’s interesting that Caldwell goes out of his way to defend the signing — he and the coaches compared his tape in Jacksonville with his tape in Denver — and made sure to note several times that the talent and skill set were there for Thomas when he was healthy.
So what was it?
Well, what else could it be?
Did the previous coaching staff misuse him? Definitely. The fact there were complaints about how he wasn’t very good of a pass blocker says there were unfair responsibilities and expectations put on him.
Did the rest of the offense hamper his development? Probably. His quarterback is one of the worst in the league and the emergence of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns limited his opportunities.
But I think the most obvious reason — and the one Caldwell isn’t going to mention publicly — is the effort. He loafed. He quit on routes. He got lazy and fell out of shape. Were the injuries he suffered last year legitimate? Absolutely. But a lack of effort is going to make injuries all the more likely. The effort is the root cause, the injuries were merely a symptom.
And the mismanagement and disorganization of a coaching staff or teammates improving and getting more opportunities are sometimes the cause of a player’s lack of effort. Wouldn’t you be more likely to just go through the motions if you weren’t being put in a position to succeed and knew your time with a team was running short?
But for now, Thomas is going to the Miami Dolphins, where a change of scenery and reuniting with former offensive coordinator Adam Gase could mean getting back to where he was during his days with the Denver Broncos.