ENGLEWOOD—Much as Demaryius Thomas has produced in recent years, expectations have been higher.
It's not easy reaching one's bar of expectations. They're usually set at a player's best year. By definition, career years cannot be topped. To fall short, though, is to get knocked.
“I get knocked in everything I do,'' Thomas said. “I got 1,300 yards one year and they were talking I was a bust.''
The Denver Broncos' top receiver speaks of 2015 when he had 105 receptions for 1,304 yards but his 9 drops tied for fifth-most in the league.
But never mind the Broncos' Super Bowl 50 season. That season is two years and a lifetime away.
The point is even this year, Thomas is statistically right there in several significant categories with Atlanta's Julio Jones, who is generally considered the league's best overall receiver.
According to Statspass, Thomas has 126 targets this season and 7 drops. Jones has 126 targets and 7 drops. There have been 25 “poor” throws to Thomas, according to statisticians, and 21 poor throws to Jones. Thomas has 73 catches; Jones has 76.
So, Thomas is right there with the best.
“That comparison means a lot,'' said Thomas, who turns 30 on Monday, otherwise referred to as Christmas Day. “Of course, they could be better, the drops I've had over the years. But numbers don't lie, like they always say. If I could get one more year of 1,000 yards, and then just keep building.''
Now, for where Jones separates: He is averaging 4.5 yards per catch more than Thomas this season. Jones ranks third in the league with 1,215 yards; Thomas has slipped to 21st with 840.
With two games remaining, D.T. is fighting more than usual to extend his streak his streak of 1,000-yard seasons to six consecutive seasons. (He was in the top 4 in receiving yards each year from 2012-14).
Thomas also has five consecutive seasons of 90 receptions, but keeping that streak going may be unrealistic. Then again, with his partner Emmanuel Sanders not expected to play Sunday at Washington, Thomas could be featured.
Thomas will start his 95th consecutive regular-season game Sunday in Washington. Like many of his past 35 or so, Thomas didn't know who his starting quarterback would be as the week began, although the expectation is Brock Osweiler will get his fourth start of the season.
“The key is to have (a quarterback) you can gel with,'' Thomas said. “Julio has always had Matt Ryan. Antonio (Brown) had Big Ben (Roethlisberger) the whole time.
“I haven't had anyone to gel with the last two, three years. I was still able to get 1,000 yards. The one I have the most respect for, who has gone through a similar situation as me, is DeAndre Hopkins. Because he's had multiple quarterbacks and he's still put up the numbers. The other guys have always had a quarterback to gel with. I had Peyton (Manning) for three, four years there. But in the last two or three years, we've had a lot of quarterbacks. We've had three this year, some of them twice. That makes it tough to gel.''