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Woody Paige: Where have you gone, Demaryius Thomas?

Posted at 3:55 PM, Nov 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-03 17:56:03-04

DENVER -- Where have you gone, Demaryius Thomas? Broncos Country turns its lonely eyes to you.

If Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were writing about Demaryius Thomas, he would title the story “The Curious Case of the Missing Wide Receiver.”

D.T. has become a mystery.

The Broncos’ eight-year veteran is not so entitled any more.

The six highest-paid wide receivers in the NFL are Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, A.J. Green, Dez Bryant and D.T.

In 2015, on the same day, Thomas and Bryant signed virtually identically contracts of five years, $70 million and approximately $37 mil guaranteed.

Brown, Hopkins, Green and Jones are having Pro Bowl seasons. The first three rank in the top four in NFL reception yardage, and Jones is 9th overall.

Thomas is 19th.

Bryant is 42nd.

Hopkins has seven touchdown catches, Green and Bryant four, Brown three and Jones one.

Only D.T. has no TDs.

He hasn’t caught a touchdown pass for almost a year (13 straight games), dating to Nov. 13, 2016, in New Orleans. Thomas had only one other touchdown in three of the previous four games.

Brown has been on the receiving end of 57 throws, Hopkins 38, Jones 37 and Thomas 35. Bryant has 32.

D.T.’s career is spiraling south, and Dez doesn’t feel so good himself.

Demaryius certainly is missing passes and Peyton Manning. The Broncos’ retired quarterback made Thomas a Pro Bowler and a $70 millionaire.

Can Thomas revive his career with Brock Osweiler at quarterback again?

Osweiler and Thomas did connect in 2015 over a seven-game span (including a half in each two games) 35 times for five touchdowns. That’s certain a better hookup than Trevor Siemian and Thomas, or even Kyle Orton and Thomas.

In 2010, Thomas’ rookie season, he began with a 97-yard day, but never got over the century mark.

In 2011, when the switch was made to Tim Tebow, and there wasn’t much of a passing attack, Thomas finished with four touchdowns and 551 yards in the regular season.

But his most famous touchdown was the 80-yard catch-and-run from Tebow on the first play of overtime in the Pittsburgh playoff game.

Then, along came Peyton, and Demaryius’ numbers soared. He’s since had five consecutive 1,000-yard-plus seasons in receiving yards. The high-water mark was 2014 with 1,619 yards on 111 receptions.

He scored 11 touchdowns that season after 14 the year before.

Last season the Thomas achievements slipped to 1,083 yards on 90 receptions, with five touchdowns.

And he’s in danger, after seven games, of not reaching any of those numbers in 2018, unless the team, the quarterback, the system and the results change in the final nine games. At the current pace, Thomas would end up with 0 touchdowns, 1,017 yards and 80 catches.

D.T. certainly is not Pro Bowl material, with Hopkins, Green and Brown in the same conference – and several other receivers experiencing notable seasons.

Thomas generally is Missing From Action.

With Emmanuel Sanders just recovering from injury, the Broncos need Thomas to be even more influential. But he’s being double-covered, and he can’t escape.

His one sensational catch was for 80 yards against the Chargers, but the play was called back because Thomas was guilty of offensive pass interference. In another game, he dropped a potential touchdown. In others, he has been limited during games because of minor injuries, and in others he has been held down because Siemian couldn’t get him the ball, or ignored him.

Neither Thomas nor Bryant has been worthy of a $14 million salary this year.

Thomas hasn’t earned the right to be called Captain America or even a captain on his own team. The man who once accumulated 226 yards on receptions in one game and had 10, 100-yard games in one season has produced one 133-yard game and one double-digit catch effort (10), both in the embarrassing loss to the Giants.

With a weak trio of tight ends and backup receivers who are average, the Broncos need Thomas to go big and long if they are to have any chance against the Eagles Sunday, or to manage a winning record in 2017.

So far, though, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, and Vance Joseph and Mike McCoy, can’t figure out the strange disappearance of Demaryius Thomas.