The second week of our roundtable AFC East discussion wraps up on GGN with a question to Pats Pulpit about a forgotten man in New England.
Laurence Maroney entered the league with a lot of acclaim as a first round pick back in 2006. After a solid rookie season, he has been something of a disappointment for the Patriots, largely disappearing due to injury and an increased focus on the passing game. What do you see Maroney's role this season in light of the signing of Fred Taylor? Do you think he can ever make good on the promise that made him a first round pick? (From John B)
Maroney has struggled with injury and confidence problems throughout his career. He sometimes lacks the decisiveness to "slice" through the holes and ends up bouncing off of the linemen, searching for an opening. He has displayed flashes of first round worth. As you've mentioned, 2006 was a solid year for him. More recently, when the 2007 aerial assault began to waiver towards the end of the season, Maroney was ready and waiting. In fact, four of his last six games in 2007 were 100 yarders - not too shabby.
Given the revelation that he was playing with a broken bone in his shoulder, I think he got a lousy shake last year and was unfairly labeled as fragile. I'm somewhat ashamed to say I was among those involved in the chastising, but it wasn't entirely without merit given the lack of information (Maroney was told to keep quiet about his injury). Word is he's fully healed and ready to roll. I hope so, because I'm dying to see a running game to balance out the passing attack. It's a great way to keep a defense on their toes.
Fred Taylor is the wildcard in all of this. He's got far more downhill/breakaway speed than the rest of the guys, but it remains to be seen if he still has gas left in the tank. But Fred's greatest value is twofold: a) mentor to Maroney ("Fragile Freddy" went through some of the same issues early in his career, too) and b) as some competition to light a fire under Maroney.
I am with Dave. Maroney has gotten a bad shake by those who have doubted him. The team stopped giving him the ball for most of 2007 because its air attack was so good, setting a league record for points, that the Pats did not need a running game for most of the year. Last year Maroney was hurt. That was not his fault. He still can become a quality player. Head over the Pats Pulpit for more AFC East discussion.