We are now in the final quarter of the 2018 NFL season, and while some former Ohio State players are finishing the year on IR, there a lot more competing for a spot in the playoffs. This week’s slate of games featured some of the best Buckeye talent going head-to-head (Michael Thomas vs. Ezekiel Elliott) and one alumni expressed discontent with his new role.
Here’s how Buckeyes in the NFL fared in Week 13:
‘Thursday Night Football’ = Battle of the Best Buckeyes
The players from the historical and incredibly memorable NFL Draft class out of Ohio State in 2015 have gone on to be some of the most productive players at the next level.
Many of those top draft picks faced off on Thursday in Week 13 when the Dallas Cowboys (Ezekiel Elliott, Noah Brown, Rod Smith) played host to the New Orleans Saints (Eli Apple, Vonn Bell, Kurt Coleman, Marshon Lattimore, Michael Thomas) in a surprising 13-10 win for the home team.
Literally every play of this game is just former Ohio State players making plays— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) November 30, 2018
Unsurprisingly, running back Ezekiel Elliott led the offensive production from Buckeyes on Thursday, claiming 23 carries for 76 yards plus six receptions for 60 additional yards and a touchdown.
It wasn’t just Elliott getting touches for the Cowboys, with Buckeye receiver Noah Brown making one catch for nine yards, in addition to making a special teams tackles, and rusher Rod Smith had three carries for two yards.
For New Orleans, the Saints offense struggled more than they have for the majority of the season, and Michael Thomas was held to just 5-of-8 targets for 40 yards. Thomas did draw pass interference penalties on two of his three missed targets, but that’s not exactly the best way to move the ball (CC: Michigan circa 2018).
The Saints defense also struggled to contain Zeke, but leading the effort was Marshon Lattimore with 10 total tackles and a fumble recovery. Eli Apple’s weaknesses were on display throughout the game, but the Buckeye still managed six total tackles, along with Vonn Bell who had six tackles with 1.5 for loss. Bringing up the rear on the stat sheet was Kurt Coleman with four total tackles, including 0.5 for loss.
All-in-all though, eight Buckeyes saw snaps during the Thursday Night Football event, and it’s starting to look like most of them will be making a long push into the playoffs.
Another year of Buckeyes on IR
As the season gets into the latter half, more players are suffering injuries that will keep them sidelined long enough for team’s to be quick to offer up that Injured Reserve designation. In year’s past, the number of Buckeyes on those lists come season’s end has been considerable, and that trend continues in 2018.
Last week, the Bengals were forced to put Adolphus Washington on IR with a knee injury he suffered in Week 9, and this week we found out that two more Ohio State alumni are out for the year: tight end Jeff Heuerman (Broncos) and guard Andrew Norwell (Jaguars).
Both Heuerman and Norwell left their respective Week 12 matchups with injuries, the tight end suffering from several broken ribs and bruised lung, and Norwell being carted off with an ankle injury.
I wrote about it a little last week, but the news is far worse for Heuerman than Norwell. The tight end was playing on the final year of his rookie deal with Denver, and after missing his entire rookie season due to injury, and being sidelined sporadically throughout the next three years with fairly limited production, he’s facing a rough free agency in the spring.
Norwell, on the other hand, became one of the highest paid linemen in the NFL when he signed a 5-year, $66.5 million deal with Jacksonville earlier in 2018.
The full list of Buckeyes on IR in Week 13: Ted Ginn Jr. (Saints), Jeff Heuerman (Broncos), Jamarco Jones (Seahawks), Tyquan Lewis (Colts), Mike Nugent (Raiders), Andrew Norwell (Jaguars), Adolphus Washington (Bengals).
Hyde not happy in Jacksonville
Things were just getting good for Carlos Hyde in San Francisco when he ended up a free agent and was looking for a new team in 2018. Having gone through three different head coaches in just the first four years of his NFL career, the lack of consistency only hurt the running back’s development.
Despite this, in both 2016 and 2017, Hyde had over 1,000 yards of total offense, and was the 49ers featured back. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough for the latest San Fran head coach, Kyle Shanahan, to work out a new deal for the Buckeye, leaving him to eventually sign with the Cleveland Browns.
Through six games back in the Buckeye state, Hyde had 114 carries for 382 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Unfortunately for the running back, the Browns drafted some good rookie rushers, and there were reports that Cleveland’s GM wanted to force Hue Jackson into using their younger players more often.
In order to do this, the team traded away Carlos Hyde to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a fifth round draft pick — and here’s where our story starts.
“I went from starter to not getting the ball at all, down to third string,” Hyde told John Reid of the Florida Times-Union. “Yes, it’s frustrating but I have to be patient for my time to come back around. When it comes, I’ll be ready. The only reason I got more was because Leonard went out. I just want to play more and be more involved.”
— Alfie Crow, Big Cat Country
Through four games with the Jaguars, Hyde had only 27 carries — the main source of his frustrations. He’s claimed 93 yards in that time, including four first downs, but has yet to score for his new team.
Hyde was initially brought in to pick up the slack left by rusher Leonard Fournette who spent the better part of the season dealing with injuries. Since his return, however, Hyde’s work load has decreased, with hopes of splitting reps with the starter dwindling.
The running back did have an increased workload this week against the Colts, with Fournette serving a suspension for getting into a fight last week, and had 13 carries for 36 yards, but did lose a fumble on an one-yard short pass.
Taylor Decker (!) scores TD
It’s not often that offensive lineman get a chance to take the ball into the end zone for a score, but that’s exactly what happened on Sunday for Taylor Decker. Late in the third quarter, QB Matthew Stafford threw a short pass to Decker who ran it into the endzone — and his teammates (other big men) were very excited.
- This week’s Monday Night Football matchup features two teams still in the hunt for the NFC East, with the Philadelphia Eagles (Malcolm Jenkins, Cameron Johnston) facing Washington on the road.
- The Bengals had a rough day against the Broncos, but Sam Hubbard had two total tackles, including one for loss, and a sack on the day. Bradley Roby had three tackles for Denver in their 24-10 victory over Cincinnati.
- It took some time, but linebacker Raekwon McMillan is finally balling out for the Dolphins. In Miami’s Week 13 win over the Bills, McMillan claimed eight total tackles, six solo, compared to fellow Buckeye Jerome Baker. The rookie started the season strong, but has seen a bit of a dip in production, and only came up with one tackle on Sunday.
- The Raiders weirdly almost pulled out a win over the Kansas City Chiefs, and Buckeye Gareon Conley had four tackles and pass breakup in the contest, and Johnathan Hankins put up two tackles for Oakland.
- Pittsburgh had a stunning collapse against the Chargers on Sunday Night Football. For the Steelers, former Buckeye Cameron Heyward had four tackles, including one stuff, and a defended pass in the contest, while Joey Bosa nabbed six total tackles and a sack for the Chargers. Bosa has only been back three games, but he’s right back to where he left off in 2017.
- Elsewhere, Darren Lee tallied eight total tackles and two stuffs for the Jets, and Buckeye safety Malik Hooker had four tackles of his own for the Colts on Sunday.
2019 Pro Bowl Voting continues
Don’t forget to vote for your favorite Buckeye to the 2019 Pro Bowl, now through Thursday, December 13. Fans can vote online at NFL.com/ProBowlVote and on Twitter:
To cast such a vote, fans should tweet the first and last name of the player, the player’s official Twitter handle, or a hashtag including the player’s first and last name. All three of these methods must include the hashtag: #ProBowlVote.
Full list of Buckeyes on the 2019 Pro Bowl ballot
|RB||Ezekiel Elliott||Dallas Cowboys|
|WR||Michael Thomas||New Orleans Saints|
|TE||Jeff Heuerman||Denver Broncos|
|TE||Nick Vannett||Seattle Seahawks|
|OG||Taylor Decker||Detroit Lions|
|OG||Andrew Norwell||Jacksonville Jaguars|
|C||Pat Elflein||Minnesota Vikings|
|C||Corey Linsley||Green Bay Packers|
|C||Billy Price (Rookie)||Cincinnati Bengals|
|DE||Joey Bosa||Los Angeles Chargers|
|DT||Cameron Heyward||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|DT||Johnathan Hankins||Oakland Raiders|
|ILB||Darren Lee||New York Jets|
|OLB||Jerome Baker (Rookie)||Miami Dolphins|
|CB||Eli Apple||New Orleans Saints|
|CB||Gareon Conley||Oakland Raiders|
|CB||Marshon Lattimore||New Orleans Saints|
|CB||Bradley Roby||Denver Broncos|
|CB||Denzel Ward (Rookie)||Cleveland Browns|
|SAF||Kurt Coleman||New Orleans Saints|
|SAF||Malcolm Jenkins||Philadelphia Eagles|
|Punter||Cameron Johnston||Philadelphia Eagles|
Injuries and Inactives
It was an ugly outing for the Browns on Sunday, whose offense was no match for the veteran Houston defense, and it didn’t help that rookie Denzel Ward was sidelined before halftime. The Cleveland cornerback didn’t return, and was officially out with a concussion.
“After a hard hit on Texans running back Lamar Miller, Ward immediately went to the team’s sideline medical tent for about five minutes before being sent to the locker room for further evaluation.”
—Michael Hoag, Dawgs by Nature
It wasn’t due to injury, but Buckeye Jalyn Holmes was yet again a healthy scratch for the Minnesota Vikings.