In the first three games of the NFL regular season, Baltimore Ravens left tackle Bryant McKinnie hasn’t played at the same caliber he did during the 2012 Super Bowl XLVII run. I’m not even going to address the party bus issue any more than I did in this article, but his on-field performances are what I’m more concerned about.
The 34-year-old hasn’t really ever been a guy who has excelled at run blocking, and it has shown in his first three games at left tackle. Not only has a Ravens running back failed to crack the 100-yard plateau individually, the team in general hasn’t cracked the 100-yard mark in a single game — 99 yards was the highest total for their Week 2 victory over the Cleveland Browns.
Baltimore travels to Orchard Park, New York this weekend to take on the 1-2 Buffalo Bills, who happen to be 30th in the league against the run (155 yards-per-game). With running back Ray Rice looking to play this week after suffering a strained left hip flexor in the fourth quarter of their Week 2 contest against Cleveland, it appears the Ravens will have their No. 1 running back re-inserted into the lineup. If this isn’t the game to break open things for the offensive line and for McKinnie, what is?
The Miami Dolphins are on the horizon in Week 5, and their front seven is much better than the Bills’. Defensive end Mario Williams is a nice piece, but he is probably going to be giving Michael Oher fits on the other side of the line, while McKinnie could face a combination of Corbin Bryant or Jerry Hughes.
Those names aren’t exactly household and tossed around as quality defensive lineman, so it appears that McKinnie is favored, unless Williams plays on his side.
McKinnie needs to not only improve his run-blocking ability, but his pass protection as well. The Ravens have yet to really come together as an offense, and that can be due to the lack of separation in routes by the receivers, but is more based on the fact that quarterback Joe Flacco is being harassed with regularity. McKinnie is responsible for the blind side of the line, and it is vital that he maintain good balance and keep defenders at bay.
Buffalo is allowing 262.3 yards-per-game through the air, good for 19th in the NFL. This defense isn’t exactly top-notch and has given up at least 23 points in each of their first three games.
I’m not writing off McKinnie’s chances of rebounding and reminding everyone why he is the starting left tackle of this football team. What I am saying is that this is the game to show why he was re-signed in the offseason and why he still has value on this Ravens team.