I’ve been hearing it ever since the Super Bowl was over….from all of the naysayers – and believe you me, there are plenty of them! All I’ve heard was that the Ravens did not want Bryant McKinnie back, and not only that, they didn’t want him back at any price. It’s amazing how quickly people developed amnesia about this football player and his performance, not only the one in the playoffs, but also in the prior year.
The man is a wall! We’ve seen what he’s done to the likes of Von Miller and Dwight Freeney. We need to protect Joe Flacco’s blind side! This was such a great signing by Ozzie! He solidified the offensive line, and shored up the second most important position on the field – left tackle!
This signing was really great on a number of levels. It allows the Super Bowl winning line to return in tact, with the exception at center. That’s not a concern, because Gino Gradkowski handled himself well in limited action last year, particularly in Cincinnati, where the Ravens played a meaningless game – to them. It is noteworthy that the Bengals played their starting defense the entire game, and Gradkowski held his own against the All-Pro Geno Adkins.
Had the Ravens not come to terms with McKinnie, they would have been doing the Curley shuffle, versus the Super Bowl shuffle! Imagine them breaking in a brand new center, a new left guard, and a new left tackle. To me it was unthinkable, that the team would tinker with the entire left side of the line, when it just invested $120 million dollars in its franchise quarterback. In order for the Ravens to have a chance to get into the playoffs and do some damage, Joe Flacco’s jersey must be kept clean! That’s the number one job an offensive lineman has, particularly the one protecting his blind side.
What was also lost in the off-season conversations, was that Kelechi Osemele had developed a very strong bond with McKinnie. He communicated well with him, and he has great respect for him. The fact that the line itself was able to jell – after so many changes – so late in the season last year, was nothing less than a miracle!
McKinnie is also well liked in the locker room, which is something else a lot of people didn’t know. Just because he’s had off field problems, doesn’t mean that he wasn’t liked and respected in the locker room; by all accounts – he is!
He also patched up his relationship with coach Harbaugh late in the season, and the fact that he is coming back to the team is a sure signal that he and Harbs are on good terms. I am sure that they have an understanding now.
Bryant McKinnie was born to play left tackle. It’s as simple as that. He has the frame, the feet, and the disposition to play the position, and play it well. While some off field things that he has done are questionable, there can be no question in regards to his body of work as a Raven. He stonewalled some of the best pass rushers in the game, and I am delighted that he is back with the team!