I admit I have not always been a huge fan of Laurence Maroney, but lately he has caught my eye. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, on the other hand, is a player I've always thought highly of. Maroney has been running with passion and purpose recently and it brings up two questions.
Is Maroney going to stay consistent the rest of the season?
I honestly don't know. I have my doubts, but lately they've been squashed when I watch him run on game day. Revisit the Titans game—Maroney had 16 attempts for 123 yards. Good right? Maybe not. Now, I thought this was a great performance on Maroney's behalf. He wasn't dancing behind the line being as indecisive as he had in previous games and he was following his blocks—all things I thought to be very good improvements.
Then, analysts began to give their views on his performance. They were saying Maroney's footing was better because of the snow and condition of the field. I couldn't believe it. He ran hard and even broke one for 45 yards. I was not going to let them take that performance away from him. However, it did make sense. Was his performance better because the Titans did not seem to get off the bus that day? I had to wait until the next weeks game.
On to London went the Patriots to face the win-less Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The weather was pretty nice and reporters were saying the turf was in good shape. Okay, THIS game will answer if Maroney is really improving. Maroney's stats against Tampa: 13 attempts for 43 yards. They were mediocre, but I did not give up hope.
After the bye week the Patriots hosted the Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. Maroney was fresh and it would be another nice test. While watching the game I noticed a few things. Maroney was running hard, and by that I mean he was not giving up until he was down. He may not have been gaining tremendous amounts of yards but he was pushing for a few extra 1 or 2. I also noticed Maroney on the sideline dancing—his passion was apparent and he was having fun.
Those three things (His passion, the hard running, and that he was having fun) give me hope that Maroney will continue to be consistent throughout the season. I am not saying he can be the Patriots every down back, but with consistency a tandem can b developed
Can Maroney and Green-Ellis be the one-two backs for New England in years to come?
I think it is a possibility. I have been a fan of Green-Ellis since first seeing him run at home against the Broncos in 2008. He finished with 13 attempts for 65 yards. Pretty good, I think, for his first NFL game. Two more games stuck out to me. One against Indy (15 Att for 57 yards) and against Buffalo (26 attempts for 105 yards).
Then he falls off, but it is not his fault. After the game against Buffalo he played in three more games that season only getting the ball twice in two games and seven times in the other. Belichick just stopped playing Green-Ellis and I am not sure why. But, I knew this wasn't the last I would see of him.
During the off-season there was questions as to if Belichick would keep five backs on the roster (Faulk, Maroney, Morris, Green-Ellis, and the newly acquired Fred Taylor). I was sure Faulk, Maroney, Morris, and Taylor would all make the roster and hoped Green-Ellis would also. At the time I wanted Green-Ellis to beat out Maroney on the depth chart. When cuts were made all five backs made the 53 man roster.
The season began and Maroney and Taylor got most of the work load with Faulk being the third-down back much as he has been in previous years. Taylor was having a great year while Maroney was not doing much to impress anyone. Taylor was injured in Week Four against the Ravens, and though Morris was next in line to get ball he was injured in Week Five against the Broncos. That left Maroney, Green-Ellis, and Faulk as the three running backs.
Faulk is more of a go to back on third down than he is at playing two to three downs at a time. I'm not saying he can't do it, but Belichick uses Faulk more as a situational player. That meant that Maroney and Green-Ellis would have to step up. As I mentioned, Maroney is not doing too badly since having to step up. Green-Ellis on the other hand has not had much of a chance yet.
In Week Six he was handed the ball seven times for 67 yards. Week Eight—seven attempts for six yards and in week nine he only had one attempt for seven yards. I hope that in Week 10 the carries will be more evenly distributed between Maroney and Green-Ellis. However, if Maroney seems to be doing very well I don't want the carries to be split. In my opinion, I believe Maroney is the one who needs the experience. I have seen what Green-Ellis can do with the ball, but Maroney has not shown that he can gain yards every time he gets it.
I hope Belichick will try and become more balanced as the season unfolds. Brady does not need to carry the whole team if they can run the ball well. I see the Patriots becoming more balanced as the season progresses and I also see Maroney and Green-Ellis getting better by season end. I can honestly say that I would not be disappointed to see Maroney and Green-Ellis as New England's future running back tandem.