NFL Buckeyes (2017, Week 3)

Week three of the 2017 NFL season kicked off Thursday night with an intense thrilling NFC West matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams.

The star of the night for the Niners was running back Carlos Hyde. Hyde came into the night as the NFL leader in yards per carry after having an explosive game last Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks’ vaunted defense. The self-proclaimed “El Guapo” scored two rushing touchdowns to go along with 84 rushing yards on 25 carries, and 3 catches for 10 yards. But it wasn’t enough as the Rams held on late to win 41-39.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Buckeye Duo of Ryan Shazier and Cam Heyward played in the craziest game of the day in the “Windy City” against the Chicago Bears. Shazier led all players with 11 solo tackles, 2 forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Heyward added 3 solo tackles. Pittsburgh suffered its first loss of the season in overtime 23-17.

Three Buckeyes led the way for the New Orleans Saints in their 34-13 win over NFC South division rival Carolina Panthers. 2nd-year wideout Mike Thomas caught 7 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown, Ted Ginn Junior caught 2 passes for 44 yards and a touchdown to go along with one carry for 15 yards, while defensive back Vonn Bell had 4 tackles (2 solo) to help the Saints get their first win of the 2017 season. Rookie Marshon Lattimore missed the game with a concussion. 8th year safety Kurt Coleman made 9 tackles (6 solo) and rookie Curtis Samuel had 2 catches for 5 yards and one carry for 31 rushing yards in the loss for the Panthers.

Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins had 7 tackles (5 solo) in the Eagles 27-24 win over Eli Apple and the New York Giants. Apple made 5 tackles (3 solo) and linebacker Curtis Grant made one tackle in defeat. The Giants are now 0-3, while Philadelphia moved to 2-1.

Malik “ball-hawk” Hooker grabbed his 2nd career interception for the Indianapolis Colts against the Cleveland Browns. His first came last week against the Arizona Cardinals. Hooker also made 3 tackles (2 solo). John Simon had 6 tackles (4 solo) and a sack as Indy got their first win of the season 31-28.

Denver Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby collected 4 tackles (3 solo) and broke up one pass in their 26-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Tight end Jeff Heuerman missed the game with a shoulder injury. On Buffalo’s side, defensive tackle Adolphus Washington made 2 solo tackles in the win.

Braxton Miller caught one pass for 15 yards for the Houston Texans in their 36-33 loss to the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. Patriots special teams star Nate Ebner made 2 tackles for the winners.

Darron Lee made 2 solo tackles for the New York Jets in their 20-6 win over the Miami Dolphins. Joey Bosa made 6 tackles (3 solo) and a half sack for the Los Angeles Chargers in their 24-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs

On Sunday Night Football, two former Buckeyes lined up against each other. Washington wide receiver Terrelle Pryor Senior against the team that drafted him to play quarterback, the Oakland Raiders and rookie cornerback Gareon Conley. Pryor caught two passes for 19 yards to help Washington move to 2-1 with a 27-10 victory over Oakland. Conley had 4 tackles (3 solo) in defeat.

Ezekiel Elliott had a bounce back game for the Dallas Cowboys against the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football to close out week three. Elliott, who rushed for only 8 yards on 9 carries last week against the Denver Broncos, had 80 rushing yards on 22 carries and scored a touchdown. He also made 3 catches for 14 yards to help the Cowboys win 28-17. Rookie Noah Brown caught his first NFL pass for 13 yards for Dallas. Rod Smith made one tackle on special teams for the Cowboys. Offensive tackle Alex Boone made his 2017 debut with the Arizona Cardinals. He started the season in training camp with the Minnesota Vikings.

Advertisements

No Surprises in UNLV Victory 

Dixon was one of seven different WRs to catch a TD pass vs. UNLV. Photo Courtesy: Ohiostatebuckeyes.com

54-21. That’s the team Buckeye Nation has been expecting to see since they began the 2017 season as the number two-ranked team.  44 points, 361 total net yards and 6 touchdowns came in the first half alone.  They finished the game with 664 total yards, 474 in the air on 10.8 yards per pass play. Very impressive for a unit that has struggled mightily in that department through the first three games of the season.

UNLV, like Army last week, are the type of teams the Buckeyes would normally play to open the season to tune up for a top five team or B1G opener. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that Ohio State did what it did to the Rebels.  OSU has more depth, talent and speed than UNLV, who’s at the bottom of a mid-major conference (Mountain West). The Bucks third-team would be starters at UNLV.

The flaws that were exposed in the defensive secondary by Indiana game one, and on the offensive line in game two by Oklahoma, would’ve have been cleaned up against Army and UNLV had the last two games been flipped with the first two. Who knows how different the vibe would be around “The ‘Shoe” right now if they were able to correct them against inferior opposition before being exposed in the national spotlight.

There’s nothing really to analyze from this game. So I’ll take a different approach to this matchup.

However there are other things worth mentioning…

J.T. Barrett is a very, very, good COLLEGE quarterback. J.T. completed twelve of his seventeen pass attempts for 209 yards passing, moving him to 2nd All-time in career passing yards in Ohio State history, before he exited late in the first half. He completed a pass to eight different receivers. All five of his touchdown passes were caught by different receivers.

The first-team defense held the Rebels scoreless in the first thirty minutes, while also registering a safety and two interceptions that led to touchdowns. Coming into the season all the experts said the Silver Bullets were the strength of this team and they did not disappoint. UNLV was only able to muster 264 total yards, while giving up four sacks.

The only thing we really learned on Saturday is that Dwayne Haskins can be as good as we all think he can be. But he’s not ready. To me he looks like a more athletic Cardale Jones, no disrespect to Jones who is athletic in his own right. But, Haskins has the speed to run the read option like J.T. and sling it with power like Cardale. He did throw an easy pick six and had several missed throws playing in garbage time versus inferior opposition. So for all the fans that want him to replace Barrett now, simmer down and allow him to wait his time. We still don’t know if he can beat out Joe Burrow.

All in all, a great win, but pretty much what was expected. It could’ve been worse had Parris Campbell and Rashod Berry had not fumbled inside the five-yard line while going in to score touchdowns. But it’s on to B1G play and Rutgers under the lights.

NFL Buckeyes (2017, Week 2)

Week two in the National Football League several Ohio State Alumni didn’t fare as well as their alma mater did on Saturday evening.

Houston Texans 2nd-year WR Braxton Miller made his first trip back to the Buckeye state as a pro player Thursday night against the Cincinnati Bengals. He had 2 catches for 10 yards in Houston’s 13-9 victory, and also made a key block to spring quarterback Deshaun Watson for the only touchdown scored of the game.

Sunday a couple fellow Buckeyes faced off in the trenches in Western Pennsylvania. Pat Elflein of the Minnesota Vikings against Cam Heyward, Ryan Shazier and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Shazier had 8 tackles (5 solo) and 1 pass breakup, while Heyward had 6 tackles (4 solo), 1.5 tackles for loss and 2 hits on the QB in Pittsburgh’s 26-9 victory.

Indianapolis Colts Rookie Malik Hooker got his first career start and recorded his first interception and returned it 32 yards in the Colts 16-13 overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals. He also made 2 tackles and broke up another pass. Linebacker John Simon had 5 tackles (4 solo), 1 sack and 3 hits on the Quarterback. Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins had 2 tackles (1 solo).

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott had a game he’d like to quickly forget against Bradley Roby, Jeff Heuerman and the Denver Broncos. Elliott rushed for 8 yards on 9 carries, the worse performance of his young career. He also added 4 catches for 14 yards in the ‘Boys 42-17 loss. With 80+ yards rushing, Zeke would’ve broken Hall of Famer Marcus Allen’s 31-year old record for most consecutive games with 80 or more rushing yards. The record is 14. Meanwhile, Roby had 2 tackles and broke up a pass, and Heuerman made 1 catch for 15 yards in the victory.

San Francisco 49ers’ running back Carlos Hyde rushed for 124 yards on 15 carries against the Seattle Seahawks. 102 of those came in the first half alone. He also finished the game with 3 catches for 19 yards in the 12-9 defeat.

Mike Thomas, Ted Ginn Junior, Marshon Lattimore and Vonn Bell of the New Orleans Saints faced the defending Super Bowl Champion New England in the “Big Easy.” Thomas made 5 catches for 89 yards, Ginn had 3 catches for 24 yards, while on defense Lattimore had 7 tackles (6 solo) and 2 pass breakups, while his secondary mate Bell had 5 tackles (3 solo) in the 36-20 loss.

Closing out the weekend, Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles had 5 solo tackles in their 27-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Kurt Coleman of the Carolina Panthers made 3 tackles (1 solo) in their 9-3 victory of the Buffalo Bills. San Diego Chargers reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Joey Bosa had 5 solo tackles in his team’s 19-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

Detroit Lions starting offensive tackle Taylor Decker missed Monday Night Football against Eli Apple and the New York Giants with a shoulder injury. He was mistakenly acknowledged by ESPN Play-by-play announcer Sean McDonough as an alumnus of “That Team Up North”, which probably added more insult to injury.  

Apple, however, moved into the top cornerback spot with Janoris Jenkins out with an injury. The 2nd-year defensive back got beat on a 27-yard TD by Marvin Jones. He also had 5 solo tackles in the 24-10 loss.

J.K., This is Your Team Now

J.K. runs 52-yards for his second touchdown against Army. Photo Credit: Ohiostatebuckeyes.com

Fifth-year Senior J.T. is NOT the focal point of the Buckeye offense. 

The Freshman J.K. is. He proved that in the Buckeyes 38-7 bounce back victory over Army.

Buckeye Nation learned how special Dobbins was in the season opener against Indiana when he rushed for a freshman debut record 181 yards, breaking a record set by Maurice Clarett in 2002. Dobbins was just as impressive against Army, going for 172 yards on 13 carries while getting into the end zone twice, one a 52-yarder.

Young J.K. is special like Ezekiel Elliott, the previously mentioned Clarett, Eddie George and dare I say Archie Griffin. Redshirt-Sophomore Mike Weber Junior has officially been Wally Pipped. Sorry, I’m not sorry.

The freshman is different. This is a man-child. He’s one of those rare backs that could’ve played in the NFL right out of high school, like Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson, Adrian Peterson, Leonard Fournette and Derrick Henry. At 5’10” 208 pounds, he’s got the power to run over defensive lineman, the wiggle and the break away speed to beat out defensive backs. 

Ohio State’s offense looks and runs better, pun intended, when they play through the freshman. The passing game opened up in the second half versus Army after Dobbins successfully ran over and around every Black Knight defender. J.T. Barrett rebounded from last week’s poor performance against the Oklahoma Sooners with a stat line of 25 of 33 passing for 270 yards and 2 touchdowns. Those Scarlet and Gray receivers were a lot more open when there were more defenders in the box and less in the secondary in coverage. 

Barrett may have 24 Ohio State passing records, and the B1G record for most touchdowns (107) responsible for in a career, but running the offense through Dobbins is the only way the Buckeyes will be able to run the table, win the conference and get back into the National Championship picture. Think of it like 2014 when Urban Meyer and then Offensive Coordinator Tom Herman ran through Zeke. 

There are several similarities to the 2014 story for this 2017 squad. An embarrassing home loss in a highly anticipated night match-up (Virginia Tech 21-35), followed by a blowout win. That season they also beat a Service Academy (Navy 34-17). Hopefully the coaching staff will follow the same formula by focusing the “O” on their supremely talented running back.

Thankfully for Ohio State fans, they’ll have three more seasons of Dobbins to be the lead dog. OSU is Running Back University once again.

NFL Buckeyes (2017, Week 1)

Rookies Marshon Lattimore and Pat Elflein share a moment after playing their first game as NFL players. Photo Courtesy: NFL snapchat

While Buckeye Nation attempts to process what happened Saturday night in the 31-16 loss to Oklahoma, several former Buckeyes made their 2017 debuts in the League.

Seven Buckeyes were selected at April’s draft, three in the first round. In all, 42 Ohio State Alumni opened the season on NFL rosters.

The Indianapolis Colts have five former Buckeyes on their team. The New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys are tied for second with four each.

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is the most notable of the former Buckeyes. Elliott’s team faced off against his former 2014 National championship teammate cornerback Eli Apple and the New York Giants. Elliott rushed for 104 yards on 24 carries and caught 5 passes for 36 yards in “America’s Team’s” 19-3 victory. Apple made 7 tackles (5 solo) in defeat for the “G-Men.”

New York Jets 2nd-year linebacker Darron Lee collected 10 tackles (7 solo) and a sack in his team’s 21-12 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Pittsburgh Steelers Ryan Shazier and Cam Heyward made their return to the Buckeye State in their season opener against the Cleveland Browns. Shazier had 7 tackles (4 solo), while Heyward had a sack, a tackle for loss and 3 tackles (1 solo) in the Steelers 21-18 win over the Browns.

The Carolina Panthers and their three Buckeyes of Kurt Coleman, rookie Curtis Samuel and offensive lineman Andrew Norwell lined up against running back Carlos Hyde and the San Francisco 49ers. Coleman made 6 solo tackles in Carolina’s 23-3 win. Samuel was limited with an ankle injury. Hyde rushed for 45 yards on 9 carries and had 6 catches for 32 yards in the loss.

Terrelle Pryor Senior caught 6 passes for 66 yards in his debut with Washington against NFC East rival the Philadelphia Eagles. 9-year vet, Safety Malcolm Jenkins had 4 tackles for the Eagles in their 30-17 win in the Nation’s capital.

The Indianapolis Colts quintuplets of Bucks had a difficult opening day against the Los Angeles Rams. LA won by a score of 46-9. Jonathan Hankins had 2 solo tackles, John Simon collected 6 tackles (5 solo) and rookie safety Malik Hooker had 4 tackles (3 solo) in defeat. Tyvis Powell and Jake Mewhort didn’t register any statistics.

Several Bucks had to wait until Monday night to start their 2017 season. Ted Ginn Junior, Mike Thomas, Vonn Bell and Marshon Lattimore of the New Orleans Saints took on center Pat Elflein the Minnesota Vikings. Thomas caught 5 passes for 45 yards, while Ginn Junior made 4 catches for 53 yards and had one rush for 5 yards in the Saints 29-19 loss. Defensively Lattimore made 4 solo tackles in his NFL debut. Elflein the 70th overall pick (3rd round) in the 2017 draft made the first start of his career.

Joey Bosa and the Los Angeles Chargers went to Denver to face Bradley Roby, Jeff Heurerman and the Broncos in the second of the Monday Night Football double header. Roby had 5 tackles (3 solo), 2 passes defensed and a key interception in the Broncos 24-21 win. Tight end Jeff Heuerman had one catch for twenty yards to help progress a scoring drive. Bosa made 6 tackles (3 solo), and 1.5 sacks in defeat.

Enough With the J.T. Bashing 

I’m not proud to be a Buckeye today. It’s not because they lost 31-16 to the Oklahoma Sooners in “The Shoe.” It’s not because of the blatant disrespect by the very sensitive Baker Mayfield when he planted the OU flag into the middle of the field after their victory.

It’s because of how Buckeye fans have reacted in the wake of the loss. Especially towards quarterback J.T. Barrett. Or as I like to call him, Just Touchdowns Barrett.

Barrett struggled mightily versus the Sooners. That was obvious. He did so in his last three game, against the Indiana Hoosiers for a half last week, and the entire night against the eventual National Champion Clemson Tigers. I can’t ignore that.

But what I can say is it’s not entirely on him. Most fans don’t watch all twenty-two players on the field. Most don’t know how to read what’s happening and why. So all they pay attention to is the guy with the ball. And who has it the most? The QB. That’s why they unfairly get all the blame, and undeservedly get all the credit.

So let me tell you what I see. I’ve seen an offensive line that hasn’t given Barrett enough time to throw. Especially the right side of the line. I see wide receivers with elite speed, but poor route running not get separation from defensive backs, while also dropping touchdown passes on the few occasions they got behind coverage and J.T. had enough time to sling it down field. I also saw receivers not come back to the ball when it was thrown to them. There’s also been some lack luster play calling, no matter who the offensive coordinator is. Why hasn’t Urban Meyer been called into question for not making proper adjustments, a la Nick Saban.

 

Nobody’s talking those issues. But hey, I’m here to get folks to stop bashing J.T. so I’ll practice what I’m preaching by not bashing anyone else. So back to J.T.

What he is, is a great example of what us Ohio State Alumni want in a student-athlete. Let me repeat that last part. STUDENT-ATHLETE. He’s already earned his bachelors degree, while being the first three-time captain in Buckeye history.

On the field he’s been responsible for more touchdowns than any player in school history (104 as of 9/10) and most passing touchdowns (72 as of 9/10). He’s passed for over 6,800 yards, which is second in the OSU record books, and by the end of this season, if he stays healthy, will pass Art Schlichter (7,547) for first all-time. Most importantly, he’s led the Scarlet and Gray to 27 victories (27-5 record). He also holds 22 Buckeye records and two Big Ten regular season records.

Will he win a Heisman like Troy Smith? Probably not.

Will he play in the NFL like Art Schlichter, Bobby Hoying and Joe Germaine? Highly doubtful.

Will he lead a team to a National Title like Craig Krenzel or Cardale Jones? There’s still a VERY good chance.

Will he beat “That Team Up North” for a fourth consecutive season? I’m pretty confident he will.

Will he finish his career as the most accomplished QB in Buckeye history? Absolutely.

Stop talking about what he isn’t and celebrate what he is. They say you never know what you have until it’s gone. Next season when a new QB debuts for the Buckeyes, I can guarantee you at some point the same Buckeye fans will wish they had another J.T. Just wait.

  

Is Penny Hardaway a Hall of Famer?

Penny Hardaway is one of the most iconic NBA players on and off the court in the last 20 years, and should be in the Hall of Fame.

This weekend eleven basketball legends will be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. Iconic names like Tracy McGrady, Rebecca Lobo and George McGinnis to name a few, will take their rightful place in the hallow halls of Basketball Heaven. One name that isn’t in those halls, that should be, is Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway.

Hardaway was a unique talent. While he played fourteen seasons in the NBA, he’s most known for the six years he spent in central Florida. From 1994-2000, the 6 foot 7 inch point guard for the Orlando Magic displayed an ability to score in an explosive manner like Mike, while also being able to set up his teammates like Magic. His was a rare talent that could do it all, years before the LeBron James’, Kevin Durant’s, Giannis Antetokumpo’s of today.

He reached icon status off the court as well with his alter ego Lil’ Penny and his Air Penny signature shoe line with Nike.

But, injuries robbed him of his prime and longevity at being an all-time great. But make no mistake, there was greatness.

Let’s look at the resume: Four-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA, and 1993-1994 All-Rookie Team selection. 1996 Gold medalist. And when Shaq left the “City Beautiful” for the “City of Angels”, Penny kept carrying the Magic to the playoffs when everyone else thought they would fold.

In his six seasons with the Magic, he averaged 19 points, 6.3 assist, 4.7 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game. When he retired he was third on the Magic career list in assists (2,343)—now fourth, third in steals (718), and fourth in points (7,018)—now seventh.

For those of you who closely look at the advanced numbers, with Orlando, Penny had a PER of 20.2, a true shooting percentage of 56%, grabbed 7.3 rebounds on a 23.9% usage rate.

He also delivered when it counted most, in the playoffs.

In eight playoffs trips with Orlando, Phoenix and the New York Knicks, Hardaway averaged 20.4 points per game, 6.2 assists, 4.7 rebounds, 1.9 steals in sixty-four games.

But don’t discount the college career, because that’s also valued when a player is considered for the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. So many forget that it’s not just a professional basketball Hall of Fame.

Hardaway was a consensus All-American in 1993, twice awarded the Great Midwest Conference Player of the year (Conference USA) and has his number 25 jersey retired by the University of Memphis State. He did that before they became a national power and dropped the “State” from their name.

Penny’s impact on the Magic’s history is very similar to his former running mate Shaq. Together they led the Magic to their first ever playoff appearance (1994) and NBA Finals (1995). He also drew his share of the national spotlight with his Nike commercials starring Chris Rock as “Lil’ Penny”, Hardaway’s alter ego to promote his signature shoes which are still widely popular and sought after decades after their initial retail release.

If Penny were to get inducted, he would be the first Magic player to go in solely on their exploits in the black and royal blue pinstriped jersey.

Shaq is there for his contributions as a Los Angeles Laker. 2017 inductee Tracy McGrady will be going in mostly for his time as a Houston Rocket. And, if Grant Hill gets in—which he deserves to be—it will be for a combination of his collegiate career at Duke and the six years with the Detroit Pistons where he was LeBron before LeBron.

Longevity during your peak shouldn’t be the end all be all when determining if a player is HOF worthy. Penny’s time with the Magic alone should be enough to get him a coveted orange blazer. Not to be rude, but if Yao Ming can get inducted, you’re going to tell me PH1 isn’t a Hall of Famer? I’m not buying it.