Bryant McKinnie, the 6'8", 343 lb. monster left tackle for the Vikings, seemed to disappoint in 2006. He really came on strong at the end of 2005, and in early 2006 he signed a gigantic contract extension with the Vikings. But he didn't seem to show the dominance to justify such a contract.
Of course, HE WAS PLAYING WITH A BROKEN HAND!
McKinnie is huge, talented, and durable. He's not somebody Viking fans should be turning against; he's one of the reasons Viking fans should be excited for 2007. Next season, Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor are going to run behind the icebergs that are Bryant McKinnie, Steve Hutchinson, and Matt Birk. The Vikings are going to have one of the most dominant running games in the league with that lineup. There's nobody the Vikings won't be able to run against next season; hell, given that Peterson is a rookie and McKinnie and Hutchinson are signed to long contracts, there's nobody the Vikes won't be able to run against for the next five years.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was fun watching Randall Cunningham and Jeff George and Daunte Culpepper throw flying meteors out to Randy Moss and Cris Carter. It would have been a lot more fun, I think, to see the Vikes win a damn championship.
So you're not excited about Tarvaris Jackson and a bunch of mediocre receivers in 2007? Big freaking deal. The Vikes have a dominant force of a defense led by Antoine Winfield, Pat Williams, Kevin Williams, Darren Sharper, and E. J. Henderson, and they've got a soul crushing power running game featuring Adrian Peterson, Chester Taylor, Bryant McKinnie, Steve Hutchinson, and Matt Birk. They're now a powerful, grinding, tough team, not a flashy team with a wilting defense. There's a real good nucleus to build around: a nucleus of great defenders and a steamrolling running game, not a nucleus of crazy talented passers and receivers and little else.
We should be excited for 2007. We should be ecstatic for the future. You can build around young big guys like Bryant McKinnie and Kevin Williams. You can win football games playing crushing defense with a good running game. This Viking team is capable of winning the division this season.
And Bryant McKinnie is a big reason why.