The Baltimore Ravens are 2-2 going into the 5th week of the NFL season and are looking for a turning point in their poor offensive line performance going into Sunday’ game against the Miami Dolphins. Joe Flacco’s blindside was not covered to stop his career-high 5 interceptions from last Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills.
GM Ozzie Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh displayed serious discontent with the offensive line and are taking no prisoners on their mission to regain their competitive position to be 2014 Superbowl contenders and LT Bryant McKinnie and RT Michael Oher should pay attention.
The Ravens released veteran tight-end Billy Bajema to free up space for the acquisition of left-tackle Eugene Monroe from the Jacksonville Jaguars in return for fourth and fifth round 2014 draft picks and paying $547,000 of the remaining $2.91 million left this season on his $3.8 million base salary.
Monroe is a strong pass blocker and can give both McKinnie and Oher a run for their starting position and Oher’s free agency worth to the team at the end of the season.
Although McKinnie was resigned by the Ravens before pre-season to a two-year $6.3 million contract after flirting with other teams including the Dolphins, his performance on the field during this season has not been as stellar as one would hope given his better than normal training camp showing. McKinnie has struggled as a run blocker thus far and has not protected Flacco, allowing two quarterback hits, ten quarterback hurries, and one sack.
McKinnie’s performance may have nothing to do with his age or his weight struggles because his conditioning, as recognized by Harbaugh, was impressively better going into this season. Perhaps McKinnie’s struggles are his extracurricular activities that promote him in the nightlife, which caused a TMZ fury on the night of birthday celebration when Sweet Pea allegedly was on the party bus and hit Jacoby Jones over the head. It could also be the hands-on approach to his music industry business venture.
Oher played with Monroe in the Army Bowl in the high school days and both were highly rated in the 2009 draft. However, Oher is a below-average left tackle and has not done a great job in solidifying his important role on the offensive line as the starting right tackle. This is proven by his contribution to Flacco’s 12 sacks and Baltimore’s poor 2.6 average rushing yards per carry this season.
Whatever the distraction, McKinnie needs to focus on his main attraction – the lucrative opportunity provided for him with this Ravens team that believed enough in him to bring him back and are only asking that he do his job. Oher needs to pay attention to what might be his calling to the bench, release, or off-season trade.
While neither McKinnie or Oher will be as effective as the Hall of Famer left tackle Jonathan Ogden was in the first 12 years of Ravens history, they need to remain focused before Harbaugh chooses a younger more reliable tackle in Monroe to make the run to be repeat Super Bowl contenders.