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Denver Broncos: Was Demaryius Thomas a Product of Peyton Manning?

Demaryius Thomas

Demaryius Thomas was thought to be one of the top 5 receivers in the NFL.  His performance last year was not indicative of a top 5 talent.  Was it him or his quarterback(s)?

Demaryius, no doubt, has immense talent at the receiver position, but he may not truly be able to elevate a receiving corps.

Demaryius was drafted with the 22nd overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.  His first two seasons in the league saw more minimal production and appearances, although some of that can be attributed to youth and subpar quarterback play.  Tim freaking Tebow was his quarterback for a season.  Not to be too down on Tebow, he and Demaryius did connect for a memorable TD to beat Pittsburgh in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.

The 2012 season saw a spike in the production of Thomas.  Coincidentally,  this was also the season that Peyton Manning arrived in town.  This led to an intriguing question that was unanswerable at the time, had Thomas finally figured out the league or was he a product of Peyton Manning?  The question would not be answerable until he played without Peyton or at the very least played with a less record breaking version of him.

Both happened in 2015 as Peyton’s age finally caught up with him.  Manning would miss several games and never performed up to his old GOAT self; however, they did win the Super Bowl.

The 2015 season saw Demaryius have the lowest numbers of the Manning era, albeit a post prime Manning who missed several games.  Every major stat for Demaryius decreased from that of his 2014 season with one exception being he had more fumbles.

Demaryius’ numbers dropped even more during the 2016 season, a concerning trend.  Due to his underwhelming season, Demaryius fell from six before the 2016 season to sixteen before this upcoming season in Athlon Sports preseason receiver rankings.  Now, sixteen isn’t bad, but it is not a superstar receiver’s spot.

So, was Demaryius’ success due to Peyton Manning?

Yes, at least somewhat, but it is not that simple.  A wide receiver needs good quarterback play.  I mean someone has to be able to consistently get the ball to him.  In that sense, Demaryius was most definitely a byproduct of one of the best quarterback’s in NFL history.  Heck, Peyton had the greatest statistical season in the history of the NFL with Denver.

Plot twist, Peyton’s success can be attributed to Demaryius.   As much as a receiver relies on good quarterback play, a quarterback needs effective receiver play.  Demaryius’ performance with Peyton was other worldly.

Below I will outline two of Demaryius’ bigger flaws.

Issues:

  1. Fumbles – Demaryius had 1 fumble in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, statistically his best ever — Denver’s offense was astronomically good during those two years.
  2. Drops- Demaryius has essentially always struggled with drops.  It has long been his weakness, but he has always outperformed it.

So, is Demaryius capable of replicating his magical 2012-2014 numbers?  Yes, unquestionably, all he needs is a consistent quarterback.  Anyone calling for Denver to trade or release him has lost their damn mind, sorry.  If you are going to get rid of Thomas, answer this question first: Who are you going to replace him with?  Teams aren’t just letting go of a Julio Jones, OBJ, or Antonio Brown.

After the 2015 season, Demaryius became only the fourth receiver in NFL history with four consecutive seasons of 90+ receptions and 1300+ yards.  Numbers like that are no fluke, this guy is legit.

Denver needs to fix their quarterback position.  The sooner Denver is able to correct that internal combustion, the sooner we will see Demaryius’ numbers reflect that of a top 5-10 receiver in the NFL.