At some point, players just get tired of hearing it. The constant berating, the continuous outcries about how terrible you are, the comments about how it's a miracle your quarterback isn't dead yet because of how badly you suck. This offseason, Dallas Thomas has gone above and beyond to make sure that never happens again.
The biggest reason that fans didn't want quarterback Ryan Tannehill to play in the game against the Falcons was that both Branden Albert and Jason Fox - the team's two main left tackles at this point - were down with injuries. That left Thomas as the next man up, and needless to say, the idea of Dallas Thomas at the most important spot on the line was a scary one.
But Thomas was determined to silence his critics, and against the Falcons, he put on an admirable performance and was able to prove that he is not the same man who could get beat by any lineman that wanted him out of his way, even while protecting Tannehill's blindside.
“I feel good about myself,” Thomas said after the game Saturday. “I’ve always believed in myself. I knew I could get the job done. It just takes time. Nobody’s perfect coming in to this. I know how some people feel. You know. But it’s a process. You can’t always rush it. Sometimes you’ve got to go through the process to get yourself right.”
He certainly looked right for the most part, but that doesn't mean he was perfect. There were a couple of plays where Thomas slipped back into old habits, and head coach Joe Philbin - while still apparently pleased with Thomas' overall play - acknowledged that Thomas still has work to do.
“I thought it was okay. I don’t think it was great." Philbin said of Thomas' performance. "I thought he [Thomas] did some really nice things. Obviously I think everybody in the stadium saw the block that he made on the screen where you saw his athleticism. In fairness to Dallas, he’s been playing…90 percent his reps have been at left guard. I thought he did okay.”
If you ask me, Thomas did better than okay. With the exception of a couple of mistakes here and there, which is actually much better than even I - one who has recently taken to defending Thomas - was expecting, the third-year offensive lineman held his own and once again showed that his improvement is not a fluke, and he clearly had fun doing it.
“Last game was the real fun,” he said. “I don’t think you guys all watched the film. I was throwing people around in that game.”
The excitement is understandable. After spending so many years being pushed around by other players, it's now Thomas' turn to do the pushing, and he was visibly pleased with himself after the performance he put forth Saturday.
“I’m mad I didn’t knock him down but he felt something,” Thomas said. “Everyone came to me like ‘Damn, good block, when you hit him you spinned around and he didn’t know where he was at!’ And then I came back and hit him again. It felt good.”
Obviously, the move to left tackle was more out of necessity than anything else, and the plan is still to have him be the starter at left guard when the regular season starts. Thomas has come out and said he hasn't enjoyed the constant moving around he's done, but if nothing else, he's happy that he got the chance to go out there and have yet another opportunity to change his reputation in the eyes of all his critics. An opportunity he clearly capitalized on.
“You can’t look at it as being frustrated,” Thomas said. “You’ve got to look at it as an opportunity to show your value, what you’re worth. I felt like I went out there and showed what I was worth.”
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
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