Joe Thomas highlights most important aspect in zone blocking for OL

The legendary Browns offensive lineman shares the most important thing he learned from Kyle Shanahan. It bodes well for Nick Harris’ ascension to starter:

The zone blocking scheme has been around for a while. Mike Shanahan’s use of the scheme with the Denver Broncos made it famous for many fans. Shanahan’s teams could churn out 1,000-yard rushers from, seemingly, random places.

The Cleveland Browns implemented the system when Kevin Stefanski was hired as the head coach. The team has had a ton of success running the ball in the zone run scheme, helped by the talents of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.

The scheme is becoming more and more prevalent in the NFL today with versions of it run across the league

Previously, Cleveland ran the system when Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator. This weekend, legendary Brown Joe Thomas was tagged in a tweet showing his technique as a zone blocker. Thomas replied by sharing what he learned from the younger Shanahan:

Valuing speed on the offensive line has been evident during Stefanski’s tenure. With Nick Harris set to step in for J.C. Tretter, speed will have to be utilized as Cleveland’s new center is significantly undersized.

Joel Bitonio, Jack Conklin and Wyatt Teller have shown versatility in a variety of schemes while being successful in all of them. Jedrick Wills enters his third season coming off a year where injuries limited him. All of them have the speed Thomas is talking about.

A healthy Wills and using Harris’ strengths will help the Browns once again have one of the best offensive lines in the game.

Joe Thomas: Baker Mayfield overplayed his hand with his letter, trade request

Joe Thomas thinks Mayfield got “sensitive” then overplayed his hand:

The Cleveland Browns are moving forward with Deshaun Watson as their starting quarterback of the future. Jacoby Brissett was officially signed on Friday to provide depth and a potential starter should Watson get suspended.

The word potential is important in the last sentence because, currently, Baker Mayfield is still on the team’s roster. If by some strange occurrence that is still true by Week 1, it could be Mayfield starting during a Watson suspension.

This offseason has been a difficult one for the former top overall pick. Mayfield underwent surgery on the shoulder injury that plagued much of the 2021 season. Cleveland’s front office reiterated hopes that he would bounce back, told his agents they’d only seek a clear upgrade at the position and then found out the team was pursuing Watson.

After Watson reportedly informed the team that they were out of the race for his services, Mayfield requested a trade. Specifically, Mayfield wanted to go to Indianapolis. That is where Browns legend Joe Thomas thinks Mayfield made a mistake:

Thomas’ logic is solid. Cleveland was going to move forward with Mayfield at that time, with Watson seemingly headed to New Orleans and Atlanta. Near the end of his comments, Thomas hit the nail on the head:

“Thinking that he was perceived as a franchise quarterback in the NFL and that he could kind of dictate the terms of where he was gonna be traded.”

Unfortunately for both Mayfield and the Browns, not only does that end up inaccurate but his letter to the fans of Cleveland and his trade request seems to have sunk his overall value as well.

Joe Thomas thinks Mayfield got “sensitive” then overplayed his hand. If the quarterback had stayed quiet and focused on what he could control, perhaps he wouldn’t be facing the NFL’s version of musical chairs right now.

 

Joe Thomas will be a Browns color analyst on preseason games

Legendary left tackle Joe Thomas will pair with Tom McCarthy to call the Browns preseason games

You can take the Browns uniform off legendary left tackle Joe Thomas, but you can’t take away his love for the only NFL team the future Hall of Famer ever played for. Thomas remains close to the organization three years after his injury0induced retirement, and he’s now going to be offering his unique insight during preseason game broadcasts.

Thomas will be an in-game color analyst for the Browns preseason broadcasts, the team announced. He’ll pair with play-by-play man Tom McCarthy in calling the games, with Nathan Zegura returning to his role as a sideline reporter.

“It gives me chills just thinking about being back in Cleveland and being able to call the Browns’ preseason games,” said Thomas via cleveland.com. “This team, this city and these fans have all had a huge impact on my life, and being paired with a veteran broadcaster like Tom McCarthy just adds to the excitement. The Browns accomplished some great things last year, and I’m looking forward to being there as they build on that success for 2021.”

Thomas has experience in the booth with the NFL Network, where he has worked on Thursday Night Football broadcasts as well as studio shows. It will be great to hear No. 73 offering his analysis on the Browns.

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Joe Thomas gets divine praise on the Dan Patrick Show

Thomas was called, “an omnipresent force bringing Browns fans together through a tumultuous decade.”

Joe Thomas has been retired from the Cleveland Browns for three seasons now, but he’s still among the most popular Browns players. Many Browns fans still proudly rock the No. 73 jersey in his honor even with a new wave of exciting young talents now in Cleveland.

Thomas got some deserved respect on a national radio show this week. When the Dan Patrick Show brought up how unusual it is for fans to buy offensive linemen jerseys, a caller named Evan dialed into the show and dropped the following,

“Any fall Sunday in Ohio, no matter where you are — could be a tailgate, could be the grocery store, could be your church service — you’ll find multiple Joe Thomas jerseys. If Baker (Mayfield) is Cleveland’s Jesus, then Joe Thomas is Cleveland’s God. An omnipresent force bringing Browns fans together through a tumultuous decade.”

That found its way to the man himself, and Thomas celebrated the kind words on his Twitter feed.

He might be aging and fattening back up, but Cleveland will always love Joe Thomas. Wear those No. 73 jerseys with pride!

Joe Thomas likes the idea of J.J. Watt in a Browns uniform

Watt and Thomas are both Wisconsin grads

There are a lot of folks who want former Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt in a Cleveland Browns uniform. One of them is the best Browns player of the 21st century and someone who once faced off against Watt in his prime: Joe Thomas.

The legendary Browns left tackle likes the idea of Cleveland signing Watt, who was released on Friday at his request. Both Thomas and Watt are Wisconsin graduates.

A cleverly photoshopped picture of Watt in a Browns uniform grabbed Thomas’ attention. He liked it enough to make it into a statement.

“That’s a good look…just saying,” Thomas tweeted, followed by emojis of fire, trophies and beer.

 

Watt would certainly look good in a Browns uniform.

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Joe Thomas on Jedrick Wills: ‘He looks like a veteran starter out there’

Sunday’s matchup with Chase Young should be a great test

There has been no better left tackle this century than Joe Thomas. The Browns fixture has stayed close to Cleveland after his retirement while still offering insight in his various media roles.

So when Thomas offers praise for Browns rookie left tackle Jedrick Wills, it carries significant weight. And Thomas definitely likes what he’s seen in the first two weeks of the Wills era from the rookie from Alabama.

“For the most part, fans probably are going, ‘Jed who?’ ” Thomas said this week in an interview with the Akron Beacon Journal. “Because he really has done a great job of keeping his name out of everybody’s mouth, right? There’s not really been noticeable mistakes. He’s not getting beat consistently. He’s not having a bunch of penalties.”

Thomas is impressed with how natural Wills makes it look on the left side despite being a right tackle exclusively through high school and college.

“He looks like a veteran starter out there, and that’s a compliment to him, but also a compliment to the coaching staff to be able to bring him along as quickly as he has been. And I think the conversation, the questions and the skepticism about can he change from right tackle to left tackle, especially with a reduced or limited offseason, I think those have all been pretty much put to bed because he looks like a natural out there at left tackle.”

Thomas sees Sunday’s matchup against Washington as a great test for Wills. The Football Team pounded Eagles QB Carson Wentz for eight sacks in Week 1 and generated a lot of pressure on Cardinals QB Kyler Murray in Week 2. Led by No. 2 overall pick Chase Young, the Washington defensive front is loaded with talent.

“This will be a great measuring stick because we know that they’re probably better pass rushers than [the ones the Browns have] seen thus far in this season,” Thomas said. “To kind of measure top rookie pass rusher, top rookie offensive tackle, for an O-line nerd like myself, this is going to be a fun game to watch.”

Wills and the Browns face off against Washington on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at FirstEnergy Stadium

Joe Thomas talks about his unhealthy playing diet, retirement weight loss

Joe Thomas talks about his unhealthy playing diet, retirement weight loss

Seeing Joe Thomas in person isn’t as easy as it used to be. Back when Thomas was a perennial All-Pro left tackle for the Cleveland Browns, he was quite conspicuous at 6-foot-6 and 325 pounds.

Now he’s down into the 250-pound range. Thomas has shaved off well over 60 pounds from his playing weight, as well as his hair. His rapid weight loss following his retirement in 2018 is one of several featured in an enlightening piece on ESPN about offensive linemen who reshape their bodies in retirement.

Thomas divulged his typical daily diet to keep his weight up. Here’s a dinner menu nobody should try at home,

For dinner, Thomas could devour an entire Detroit-style pizza himself, and then follow it with a sleeve of Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies and a bowl of ice cream. And finally, he would slurp down another protein shake before getting into bed.

Thomas noted he dealt with constant heartburn and ingested copious amounts of anti-inflammatory drugs and pain medications to deal with the stress on his body frame.

The entire piece from Emily Kaplan at ESPN is a worthwhile read on the unhealthy measures Thomas and many other linemen have taken to artificially add weight to their frames. It’s a very enlightening look at an underreported phenomenon in football.

Joe Thomas named PFF’s top tackle of the decade

Joe Thomas named PFF’s top tackle of the decade and was the top-rated Browns player from the 2010s

Pro Football Focus released its top 101 players from the last ten years, the PFF All-Decade team. And as he should be, former Browns left tackle Joe Thomas figures prominently in the rankings.

Thomas was the top-rated offensive tackle of the last 10 seasons. His overall ranking was 11th, just outside the top 10. That’s a little disappointing, though to be fair Thomas didn’t play in the final two full seasons and half of another.

His greatness extended back to his rookie season of 2007, though Thomas’ early years don’t count here. He made the 7.5 seasons in the 2010s stand up, however,

Joe Thomas is unquestionably one of the best players in NFL history; he was the gold standard for pass protection from the moment he entered the NFL. For the decade, only Andrew Whitworth surrendered pressure at a lower rate than Thomas (3.9%), and Whitworth was often far more protected within his offense in Cincinnati than Thomas was in Cleveland, where he blocked for a succession of quarterbacks who made his life tougher by holding onto the ball longer than they should. Thomas had three straight seasons in the decade with a PFF grade above 90.0 and will be Canton-bound before long.

That is lofty praise for Thomas, one of four players who spent time in Cleveland to make the list. Former Browns center Alex Mack was No. 44, current wide receiver Odell Beckham checked in at No. 91 and former right tackle Mitchell Schwartz was No. 100.

Joe Thomas loves the Jedrick Wills pick by the Browns

Joe Thomas loves the Jedrick Wills pick by the Browns

Even before the 2020 NFL Draft, Joe Thomas had cast his favor upon Jedrick Wills as the best option to fill the hole at left tackle in Cleveland. The Browns legend loved the choice at No. 10 overall to make Wills his newest successor.

In a meaty appearance on the Cleveland Browns radio network, Thomas raved about Wills. The future Hall-of-Famer gushed about how much he enjoyed watching Wills’ game film at Alabama and how well his skills translate to Thomas’ old left tackle spot in Cleveland.

“There is nothing that when you watch him on tape makes you go, ‘Well, I don’t know. He’s going to have to get better at this,'” Thomas said. “Does this man move like an All-Pro in the NFL? Will the footwork skills, technique, quickness, balance, change of direction and recovery skills that he possesses in his body be able to hold up to the Von Millers and JJ Watts?

I went back, and there was only one guy that stood out. He just popped off your screen. The technique he was using. The dominance. The finish. The change in direction. The explosion that he had. The way he could bend his ankles, knees and hips and create force and power. When guys tried to bull rush him, he was firm and stout.

There was only one guy that looked like that, and that was Jedrick Wills.”

Thomas also volunteered that he is more than willing to help Wills make the transition from right tackle to left. He loves the immediate impact potential.

Concluded Thomas, “This man will come in — and I don’t want to make any guarantees — but he is ready to go to the Pro Bowl this year.”

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Joe Thomas breaks down the offensive tackle options for the Browns

Thomas ranked the OT options and broke down what he saw on film

Joe Thomas is the best left tackle in Cleveland Browns history. Who better to break down the candidates to (hopefully) be his long-term successor at the critical position in Cleveland than the man himself, No. 73?

Thomas posted a lengthy stream of analysis on each of the top four tackle prospects on Twitter. Here is the condensed version of his thoughts on Mekhi Becton, Andrew Thomas, Jedrick Wills and Tristan Wirfs. But first, Thomas’ ranking for the Browns:

Becton

Thomas cited his size, run blocking wide in the zone scheme and his suddenness as positives. As negatives, Thomas noted a lack of pass blocking snaps and poor technique. He concluded,

“I don’t see anything that a great OL coach can’t correct.”

Thomas

Calling the Georgia left tackle tough and physical, Thomas really likes his athletic ability on the outside. Interestingly, Joe Thomas takes issue with Andrew Thomas’ (no relation) ability to generate power on the edge and handle bull rushers. Considering Thomas is about the same size as Wills and Wirfs, it’s a notable critique.

Wills

Citing him as “the most sure-fire offensive lineman in this draft”, Thomas is clearly a big fan of Wills. He notes the Alabama product’s ability to change directions and how well he creates power from his technique. The biggest negative? Getting “lulled to sleep” while playing against lesser opponents, as well as penalties.

Wirfs

The litany of positive qualities Thomas lists for Wirfs makes it hard to fathom he’s fourth on the list. Strength, smarts, technique are all praised.

Thomas’ concerns with Wirfs are about his tendency to try and maul foes and a reliance on his lower-body strength. Or in his words,

“a great player who likely will be a tackle long term, but might be best suited to start at guard because of less than perfect mobility and suddenness. A mauler (good) but those types sometimes struggle to keep up with the athletes you see on the edge.”

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