Braxton Miller injury and its effects

Last Monday in the second last week of training camp before the season kicks off against Navy the unthinkable happened, Braxton Miller got injured. Miller reinjured his throwing shoulder after initially injuring it against Clemson in the Orange Bowl in last year’s los the former 5-star recruit is out for the season but has committed to return in 2015. With Miller gone for the year the question everyone in Columbus wants to know is where do we go from here?

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Braxton Miller being helped off the pitch in the Orange Bowl

Well the first thing to do was to find Miller’s replacement, JT Barrett. You’d be forgiven for not knowing who Barrett was as even Urban Meyer didn’t know his name calling him Barrnett instead of Barrett in a press conference recently. As a result of his ACL tear, Barrett hasn’t played in a game since 2012 but did get plenty of 1st team reps as Miller eased his way back into training before reinjuring his shoulder. A mobile QB though not in the game changer Miller is, Barrett should fit well in the Buckeyes scheme but it’s difficult to tell. With Barrett’s lack of experience the play making load will fall on the shoulders of sophomores Dontre Wilson and Ezekiel Elliot and the experienced defence will be relied on heavily. It’s a good job that a tough team weren’t scheduled as the first non-conference game as Barrett has played since October 2012 when he was still in high school and sat out all of last year to rehab a torn ACL.

The second thing that has people in Columbus in a panic is the playoff hopes. With Miller gone for the year there is plenty who want to write off the Buckeyes year but there is no need to be so rash. The strength of scheduling which was once Ohio State’s Achilles heel has now become its saving grace. With Virginia Tech being the only real bogey team before the Buckeyes begin conference play at Maryland, there is no reason to believe that JT Barrett and the offense won’t have clicked by then. Even if the Buckeyes do manage 8-0 it all really comes down to how the game away to Michigan St goes. Realistically the Buckeye’s chance to go undefeated are probably gone with Michigan St, Penn St and the team up north all believing they can beat use this year without Braxton Miller but as Joel Klatt said “the last two years, we’ve had a redshirt Freshman win the Heisman trophy… they are still certainly a playoff contender”

To conclude, the playoffs just became a lot more difficult to reach for the Buckeyes and the B1G Ten’s best player won’t play this year. All hope is not lost though if JT Barrett can pull something out of the bag but it means any playoff spot go through East Lansing.1

Browns cut 14 players

Anthony Armstrong

Anthony Armstrong who was cut by the Browns despite lack of depth at WR

Today the Browns 14 players in the preliminary set of roster cuts as the roster go from 90 down to 75 before another set of cuts to bring it down to 53. The biggest surprises from the roster cuts were WR Anthony Armstrong and RB Edwin Baker. Armstrong had seen plenty of playing time in OTAs but since then his time has been gradually decreasing as he had only 3 catch for 17 yards in preseason but it is still surprising given how thin the Browns are at Wide Receiver but can only be seen as a positive for Travis Benjamin and Charles Johnson who are both recovering from ACL injuries. Armstrong also had experience playing in Kyle Shanahan’s offense after a couple of season in Washington together. WRs Willie Snead and Taylor Gabriel also managed to avoid the roster cuts which mean that the management are going to take their chance and roll with youth and hope they reach their potential.

Edwin Baker

Edwin Baker was a surprise cut for the Browns after being effective last year

Baker being cut is less of a surprise given that there is a bit of a logjam at RB at the moment with 5 RBs fighting for 3/4 roster spots. Although one was always going to lose out I thought it would be Isiah Crowell going to the practise squad. Baker came in from San Diego’s practise squad last year and was effective for the Browns gaining 171 yards in three games but last season preseason star Dion Lewis and UDFA Isiah Crowell were preferred to Baker despite Baker being the only one to see significant game time in the regular season. This could have been quite easily predicted from the preseason games as Baker only got 3 carries.

CB Royce Adams is the only other person of note who was cut with the other 11 being:

OL Randall Harris

OL Keavon Milton

OL Jermiah Warren

CB T.J. Heath

WR Jonathan Krause

WR Tim Smith

TE Martell Webb

DL Cam Henderson

ILB Caleb McSurdy

OLB Keith Pough

The Browns need to cut one more player before they play their final preseason game against Chicago before cutting down the roster to 53 players with a practise squad of up to 10 which is up from 8 last year.

 

Brandon Weeden and the value of Preseason games

Last year, Brandon Weeden was given the starting job coming the last season after a very mediocre rookie season where he threw 14 TDs to 17 INTs while showing a strong arm but bad decision making. Being the Rob Chudzinski regimes “guy” he was given the start in preseason and boy, did he look good. Through his first two games in preseason he recorded stats of 18 of 25, 229 yds, 3TDs, 0 INTs on 6 series in two games. You had media proclaiming him to be “dominant” and the coaches were so high on him that he was rested for the final preseason game for fear of injury.

Brandon Weeden

Brandon Weeden against the Lions last year in preseason

Then the season started and just like that Brandon Weeden regressed back to his rookie self, the gun slinging, INT machine who took forever to make a decision in the pocket. While really the Browns should never have selected Weeden for a variety of reason (Age, system and lack of experience), he was a classic example of how misleading preseason can be.

On Saturday, after months of speculations since the Browns drafted him with the 22nd pick in this year’s draft Johnny Manziel finally made his preseason debut. He completed 7 of 11 passes for 63 yards in the battle of the Barge against Detroit and looked good when he kept the ball as well with 27 rushing yards. Meanwhile when the incumbent Hoyer was on the pitch he completed 6/14 passes for 92 yds. Despite both stat lines and performances being completely average media outlets were proclaiming Manziel had in an almost “Tebow”- like fashion that Manziel had “closed the gap” or even “overtaken” Hoyer despite the fact that neither really shone both QBs suffered from dropped passes and both didn’t up any sacks while looking effective. Brian Hoyer suffered from Jordan Cameron’s injury as when healthy there is great chemistry between the two.

Johnny Manziel Preseason

Johnny Manziel in his first appearance in Browns jersey

When the game started there was the usual atmosphere at a preseason game, quite, reserved, waiting for a big play, which is until Manziel stepped on the pitch and a cacophony of noise erupted with a mix of cheers and boos which isn’t too surprising because they were on the road. The game also drew NFL Network’s highest ever preseason game ratings but all this begs the question with all this hype, what happens when Manziel most likely doesn’t win the job? Are we going to see a split fan base and locker room similar to when Tim Tebow was in New York? Donte Whitner has already come out and said that the locker room is split 50-50 on who should be starter. The local Browns fan base and media wouldn’t really be divided on Manziel as Hoyer is Clevelander and is very popular in the city itself but rather the national media who keep stirring the pot. And before anyone reads anything into Manziel performance remember he was playing against one of the worst secondaries in the league backups. The important thing to remember is that it is just preseason and to take everything with a pinch of salt and to not read into too much. Also NEVER trust Brandon Weeden. EVER.