I was able to have nice chat with Michael Thomas about his stellar rookie season and where he sees himself going forward. Thomas is currently a finalist for the Vizio Top Value Performer award. Jay Ajayi, Spencer Ware, Tyrell Williams and Latavius Murray are the other four finalists this season. The award is determined by van voting, and I’ll provide a link for you to go vote at the end of the interview.
Also, at the bottom of this article you can find the recorded version of this interview. Feel free to download and listen at your convenience.
Rev: "Hi Mike, how you doing today?”
Thomas: ”Good how about yourself?”
Rev: “Pretty well. Thanks for taking the time to have this chat, I know your time is precious. Been really excited to follow your rookie season. Actually just saw that you liked my film study I did recapping your season and liked it on Twitter so thanks for that as well.”
Thomas: *chuckle* “Yea!”
Rev:”You've been racking up a lot of award nominations, including this one I'm calling you about, the Vizio Top Value Performer award. Can you tell me a little about it?”
Thomas: “I'm just honored to be in the position. Anytime you're being recognized for your play on the field by other people, especially by a successful company like Vizio, (It's an honor). So basically me, along with a couple of other NFL players, we played at a high level this year and we're up for this award. We're going to try and see who wins.”
Rev:"Last year's winner was Allen Robinson, but obviously us in Who Dat Nation are going to be pulling for you to take it. Speaking of breaking records and collecting rewards, something your fans wanted to know is did you get your jersey back from Julio?”
Thomas: *laugh* “Yea, I'm in the process of getting my jersey back.”
If you missed it, Thomas after the loss against Atlanta swapped jerseys with star wide-out Julio Jones. After doing so, and thinking back to the record breaking season he had as a rookie, he’s going to get it back and give it to his father.
Michael Thomas swapped jerseys with Julio Jones, but said he needs to get it back after setting records. Wants to give it to his father.— Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) January 2, 2017
Rev:"Coming into the NFL, a lot of people were sleeping on you. There was only one big name guy that I can think of that had you as his top receiver and that would be Mike Miller out of B/R. What has motivated you to challenge that initial scouting profile? You didn't just become the best receiver in the rookie class, you blew the other guys away. No offense to them of course, but there was just a very wide margin in terms of what you were able to produce in your 15 games in comparison to what the rest of the class was able to do.”
Thomas: "You know, just keeping that same chip on my shoulder that I had coming out and basically controlling what I can control. No matter what happened, if and when I got my opportunity (I was going) to take advantage of it and be prepared for the moment when it presented itself.
That's how I approached the game when I first got drafted by the Saints and how I've approached it ever since. It's just trying to see how far I could take it, challenging myself. A lot of people are always going to bank on your potential, but it's always a what if, or if he reaches that. So I'm just trying to see how far I can take it every game. My last game of the season I felt I played my best game of the season, or one of my better games.”
Rev:"Coming to New Orleans, Sean Payton is an offensive mastermind. What about his offense impresses you the most? Everyone talks about his offenses' diversity and the packages and sub-packages that he uses, so for you as a rookie coming in was it hard for you to adjust? What was the most impressive about his playcalling for you?”
Thomas: “Coming in I told myself "whatever it took, I was gonna do". I wasn't going to create any excuses for myself whether it looked hard or it actually was hard. I was gonna do my best to figure out. You know Sean Payton, he is Sean Payton. He is who he is. He's great at what he does and he knows his offense stuff.
When you have a guy like that that really cares and a QB like Drew and other guys supporting around you like Willie Snead who had a great year last year and followed it up with a great season this year, and Brandin Cooks who had a great season this year you just kind of want to challenge each other and see where you can take it and to be the best. That's the approach we had every day, week in and week out. A lot of credit goes to my position coach (John Morton) and our offensive coordinator (Pete Carmichael). It's a great support staff.”
Rev:"All of us have been pretty high on Sean and Pete in the offense. It's been pretty impressive what they've been able to do with the offense year in and year out. I got to ask you this: I know you're a humble guy, but no one really talked about it all year long. The Saints have the best trio of wide receivers in the NFL don't we?”
Thomas: (Confidently) “Yes sir.”
Rev: *laugh*"Just had to make sure you were shooting straight with me. We talked about you adjusting to Sean Payton's offense and the NFL, but is there anything your uncle (Keyshawn Johnson) taught you coming into this year that really helped you go against those more physical defensive backs that scouts said you could have problems with in the NFL?”
Thomas:"As far as what he told me, or what he coaches me on, it's really just the basics. We don't try to create this fairy tale or just try to sugar coat anything. We're real honest. That's the great thing about the people around me, they're real honest, and we just try to keep it as simple as possible and do what's right and what's wrong. We just compete and challenge ourselves.”
Rev:"Going into next season, for you as a player, what part of your game do you think that you need to work on or improve? For me, finishing up your film recap for this year, I’d love to see you more inside along the seams. Now that you’ve reached so many goals here in your rookie season, what’s something that you want to achieve next year?”
Thomas: “As far as where I line up, I'm sure the coaches will figure that out. That’s what they get paid for. For me, myself, not really any part of my game I want to work on. I just want to enhance everything and get better at the end of the day, because I feel that's where you really find out who you are and how good you can actually be.”
Rev:"With all this drama and talk during the off-season, why should Who Dat Nation be encouraged (and not discouraged), going into next year? From your standpoint as a player, what do you see in this team?”
Thomas:"There's a ton I see on this team. I'm not really the guy to talk and try to persuade you. I like the locker-room we have and all the tools we have in that locker-room. I'm just going to put the work in and get things trending in the right direction. I can't really explain or try to correct how you guys feel there, you'll just have to wait and see. Just know we're going to finish our games next year. That's the only thing that really separated us from being in the playoffs and not being in the playoffs this year.”
It was a real treat getting to talk to Thomas. While you certainly can’t learn everything there is to know about someone from a ten minute conversation, I did leave this interview with a much higher opinion of Thomas than coming in. I already felt he was a great piece for the Saints present and future, and this conversation solidified this feeling and built upon it. His work ethic, drive and desire to be great is clearly evident in not only his responses, but in how confident he was in delivering them.
If you would like to support Thomas in the running for the Vizio TVP award, make sure you go see him and the other competitors at the TVP website and vote! You can vote as many times as you would like, so let’s make sure Thomas takes this one home. God bless, and Who Dat, Saints fans.