Packers 2016 Recap: LB Joe Thomas
- Played in 16 games (7 starts)
- 70 tackles, 5 pass deflections, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery
- Pro Football Focus: 48.5/100 (68th out of 87 qualified linebackers)
Expectations going into the season: Moderate
Expectations were: Exceeded
Analysis: Thomas holds off rookie Martinez for playing time
In Wisconsin, Joe Thomas is the second-most popular Joe Thomas playing professional football. The Packers inside linebacker is overshadowed by his own fan base thanks to an offensive tackle from the University of Wisconsin in the midst of a Hall of Fame career with the Browns.
Then, Joe Thomas became the second-most popular dime linebacker after Green Bay drafted Stanford’s Blake Martinez in the 4th round of the 2016 draft.
Doesn’t matter. Thomas played the most snaps out of any of the Packers’ three main inside linebackers (Blake Martinez, Jake Ryan and Thomas) with 634 and finished fourth on the team with 70 tackles.
The high point of the season came in mid-October, when Martinez saw his role reduced to just 15 snaps on a Sunday night against the Giants thanks to Thomas.
It’s a pretty stark departure from one year before, when Thomas threw his Packers gear around his apartment after being cut at the end of the Packers’ training camp in 2015. When Sam Barrington was lost to a season-ending injury, Thomas returned and has been a steady contributor ever since.
There’s still room for Thomas to improve next season. He finished with 13 missed tackles – the most on the defense – and struggled in coverage occasionally.
At 6-0 and 230 pounds, he’s undersized and can be roughed up by bigger offensive linemen. If he can escape the linemen, there’s a good bet he’s going to be involved in the tackle.
The knock on the Packers defense the past few seasons has been a lack of speed. Thomas, who runs about a 4.7 in the 40 yard dash, is the slowest of the trio at inside linebacker. Perhaps this offseason will bring speedier linebackers into the fold. Until then, Thomas is a steady, solid linebacker for Green Bay.